Monday 17 August 2015

Post-Event Post!

The Raleigh GFAF Event was this past weekend. This was my first time being a part of the Blogger Team - but I can definitely say it won't be my last! It's all been so much fun.

As promised, I will be posting my presentation from the event very soon, along with additional links, information, and other resources. But first I want to focus on some things from the rest of the event:

Almost ready to start!
First off, yes, there was a lot of good food involved! But it wasn't just about the food - I also got to meet and talk with a lot of people, and heard some interesting presentations from other speakers. Overall, the whole thing has left me really inspired & energized! 

As for the food: First was the blogger dinner at Primal, a completely GF restaurant here in Durham. Everything I've had there has been delicious, including this dinner, and I think all of us were stuffed by the end of the night.

Of course, the next morning at the event meant even more things to eat! Because I bake from scratch so much, I very rarely buy pre-made baked things or baking mixes. This means I kind of forget just how much is out there - particularly the local (NC-based) companies that weren't really on my radar until now. I don't generally eat a lot of packaged food, but even I have to admit that after nearly 8 years gluten-free, there's something pretty exciting about entering a huge room full of tables with all sorts of food and realizing I can eat anything in here

Going around the room feels like trick-or-treating for grown-ups. Seriously. To add to the excitement, there was a blogger gift bag of items from some of the vendors & sponsors: 
I wonder what's inside??
Stuffed as I was from munching on samples all day, after the event was all over I still felt really excited to go home and find out what was in the bag and sort through all the little samples I'd grabbed. (See? Just like trick-or-treating.)

Some of the samples from the tables.
In the blogger bag - Thank you to all the vendors & sponsors!

Some highlights from the bag:
Cookie mix from Ardenne Farm, one of the local companies. They had several different samples out at the event too...including some very good blueberry muffins and cinnamon crumb muffins. I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the muffins! I guess it's because I was too busy eating the samples...seriously, they were really tasty.

A very nice gift box from Caly's Kitchen, another NC bakery, containing banana bread mix, granola, and assorted cookies. 

A (delicious!!) cheesecake brownie from JP's Pastry in Raleigh.

(I might also mention more things in future posts, as I get a chance to try more of the mixes, samples, etc.)

Some other tasty things I found at the event:

Lemon bars and brownies made by Moonflour Bakery

More from JP's Pastry
Baking mixes from Our House
Also forgot to take a picture of the pizza from zpizza - again, got too distracted by eating it. I still wanted to mention it because theirs is one of my favorite restaurant pizza crusts - the crust is crisp and chewy, not at all cakey or eggy the way some commercial GF crusts are.

These were just a few of the things to see, do, and taste! There are still a few more events and expos coming up this year, so if you didn't make it to this one, see if there might be one near you - it's a lot of fun! 

Coming up on the blog: Traditional techniques for baking with GF flours, new recipes, & more - stay tuned!

As always, all these opinions and statements are completely my own; as an event blogger I received the bag of items provided by vendors and sponsors, but I was not otherwise compensated and I was not obligated to write about or feature any specific product(s) or vendor(s). 

Monday 3 August 2015

Announcements & a Giveaway!

I have some exciting announcements about the upcoming GFAF Event on August 15th in Raleigh, NC! First of all, I have 4 tickets to give away - so if you're in the area and would like a ticket, leave a comment! (Or, if you pre-register for the event online, you will get a free subscription to Delight Gluten-Free magazine for a year.)
Traditional American yeasted rice bread - wonderfully
chewy crust, and the inside is soft and moist.

Also, I will be speaking at the event!! The title of my topic is "No Gums Required!: Heirloom recipes, regional specialties, & forgotten techniques for baking with GF whole-food ingredients." I will be covering some of the special techniques involved in making traditionally-GF recipes work, and explaining how to apply selected techniques to other recipes. 

Some background: As you may know, one of my main areas of research is the chemistry of GF flours. Common minimally-processed binders such as flax, chia, and even psyllium have long been used as food in various ways, but as far as I know, using them specifically to give structure to bread is actually a pretty recent development. This means the enormous variety of traditionally-gluten-free baking - and it really is an enormous variety! - relies on different methods for structure. A number of these techniques and traditions involve eggs, but there are also plenty that don't, with all the structure coming from the flour(s). 
Fluffy, puffy rice-flour bun, hot from the oven.

Some of these traditional recipes have gotten some attention in the GF community and/or the food community in general - just a few well-known examples include pão de queijo, socca/farinata, and of course the ever-popular macaron (of which there are actually many, many varieties and similar treats - some of which bear little resemblance to the trendy colorful sandwich cookies). Others are less known in the US but are popular in other parts of the world, particularly throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East - these include a large number of flatbreads, steamed breads, cakes, and pastries made from pretty much every GF grain, bean, starch, and/or nut you can think of. 

Oat bran bread - very springy and soft,
with lots of flavor.
Even less known are the many styles of breads and cakes from American and European history. These breads gradually disappeared as wheat flour became cheaper and more widely available than other flours. (There were, of course, loads of other factors involved - but the changes in the food system were certainly major contributors.) Most frequently, these use rice, corn, buckwheat, pea, sweet potato, white potato, oat, chestnut, and (in the case of cakes/cookies) various other nuts, depending on the region. These pictures are just a few examples! I will be posting more pictures, along with some of these traditional recipes, soon!

Again, the event will be on August 15th from 10 am - 4 pm. Directions are on the event websiteI am super excited, and I hope to see some of you there!!