Thursday, October 28, 2010
Frustrated Honesty
I think the weather has totally messed with my mood the past two days. Do you ever have those days where everything gets on your nerves? Well yesterday was one of those days for me. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

Dinner was a good portion of the problem too. We actually went to the store to get the two things we needed to make fried rice and guess what? We needed 3 things! So, we went a different route which left me with another odd meal. That makes two nights in a row that I have eaten strange, but tasty meals. The night before last was sweet potato fries, hummus and a wedge of iceberg lettuce. Last night was an egg white omelet with spinach, gravy and homemade gluten free bread. In case you are wondering, gravy does go on eggs well...who knew?

Ugh and the lighting was horrible! It was dark at 5pm due to horrible thunder storms. That made it more frustrating. 

My way of de-stressing is to turn to baking. Which, if you bake, you know this could have gone so badly and turned my bad mood into a worse mood!

This loaf is why I love to bake. Against all the odds (gluten free baking), this turned out to be the best gluten free bread we have ever had. The outside was crusty while the inside is chewy! All of you gluten free people out was chewy!

I developed this recipe using a very basic recipe my grandmother gave me that she got from her mother. It was actually a flatbread recipe. I played with some techniques that I have learned through school and practice. I made a nice round loaf of bread with it.

It even reheated so well that the illustrator told me that he thought it tasted just like it did last night fresh from the oven. You have no idea how that makes my day. I felt bad because I couldn't stop eating it. While this recipe is perfect and I won't be changing it, I will be making different versions.  I think apple walnut would be so good and I am definitely making a loaf soon with rosemary and sea salt.

This brings me to a point I think is important. I am a very happy blogger and I LOVE sharing my cooking/baking experiences. In fact, if you ask me for something, I will always give it to you or help you find it. Food, especially healthy wholesome food, makes me happy. I get so much joy in creating things in the kitchen, some my own and some ideas I get from others. If you notice from yesterday, I posted a recipe with credit to the source I got it from. I posted my quantities and technique because I changed those due to the products I had on hand. Again, with full credit to the source. I think it is important to state that if you have to ask (in your head or out loud) at what point a recipe is your own, then it probably is not. Let's be honest, everything has already been done, recipes evolve with generations and product availability. I guess my point is, we all blog for a reason. I would eventually like to have a career developing recipes and working with people that have food restrictions. I want people to trust what I am doing. So, without sounding rude or mean (which I have feared I would if I said anything before), please give credit to those you get "ideas" from. Changing two ingredients in a recipe (like coconut flour for rice flour and one spice for another) does not make it yours.

I am sorry if this came across as rude, I just needed to say it. Thank you for reading today and everyday. I appreciate all of you and value your friendships.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 5:27 PM   28 comments
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Polenta Pumpkin Cakes
I swear this is not going to become the all pumpkin blog, but I warned you all before...I love pumpkin and since I have quite the addiction, I go a little crazy this time of year. I will cool it the rest of the year, maybe. I just finished my pumpkin oats this morning too, so in the next couple of weeks, I should have a nice orange glow. Who needs fake tans when you have pumpkin?

Yesterday went by so fast and I don't really know what was accomplished. I hate days like that. I will tell you that I apparently accomplished working out my quadriceps. I am telling you, if you like to do muscle toning workouts at home and don't like a lot of weights, I highly recommend Core Exhale Fusion. I like weights, but I like working out in different ways and this seriously works you out! Yikes!

Now for food...HEAB made what she called corbocha cakes the other day. These were little cornmeal cakes made with roasted kabocha squash. I had just roasted up a pumpkin from our carving extravaganza, so I thought I would give it a try. I like incorporating veggies in our starches since the boys are more likely to eat it and these were fun to eat!

I made my polenta with 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Polenta, 3 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt.  I let it cook for about 5 minutes, until everything came together.

Then I added 1 cup roasted pureed pumpkin.

Next I added 10 drops vanilla stevia (I wanted them to be a touch on the sweet side). I then placed it in the fridge to hang out for an 1 1/2 hours.

After the mixture set up, I scooped it out and baked it on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I served them up with sauteed cinnamon apples and a drizzle of orange honey creme (I had an egg white omelet on the side too). These were so good. Be sure to check out Heather's too, she made them extra special!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:40 AM   22 comments
Monday, October 25, 2010
Pumpkin Rice Pudding
It is Monday and after all the activity from the past week and the weekend, we are all starting here a little on the tired side. We were supposed to go to a pumpkin carving/birthday party yesterday, but our friend that was throwing the party ended up calling a canceling due to her not feeling well. Poor thing is having problems with her digestive tract and I can completely relate to how debilitating that is. We were bringing a dessert to the festivities and since it was already in the oven when she called, we took one for the team and went ahead and ate it.

The process started with the roasting of the cinderella pumpkin we got from the pumpkin patch last weekend. From the information I have read, this is an heirloom pumpkin that is perfect for pies. I also read that we have genetically changed the look of pumpkins over the years to make them prettier.  I thought this was pretty funny since I think the heirloom fruits and veggies are really so much prettier with all the different colors and shapes. I am bummed I only bought one, but I definitely saved the seeds to grow my own next year.

 When we cut this open, it had a sweet smell to it more like a melon and as it was roasting you could smell a hint of honey.

I roasted the pumpkin at 375 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. It was pretty large, so it took a little time, but it was totally worth it. The puree was velvety, smooth and a lot juicier than other pumpkins I have roasted. It made 13 cups all for $4. I would say that is a deal! I froze 9 cups out of this for pies in a few weeks...I can't wait!

Now to the extra good stuff!  We decided to make pumpkin rice pudding to take to the get together.

We were going to brulee it when we got there, so we had a mix of brown sugar and regular sugar mixed together. When I do this next time though, I will do turbinado or raw sugar. I just think it will work better and not get too brown. The dark brown sugar started to burn at little. Not the bad kind of burn though, the good burn...if that makes sense. I just want it to be prettier when it burns.

This smelled so good and is all the flavors I love in fall!

 Pumpkin Rice Pudding

6 cups cooked rice
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups dairy free milk (I used Almond Milk)
3 eggs beaten or 13/4 cup egg substitute (or egg whites)
1/2 cup granulated sugar or pure cane sugar
3/4 cup raisins (ground in the food processor to form a paste)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar

Combine all ingredients through the nutmeg in a large casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. When done sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and either torch or place in the broiler to brown.

***I would add 1/4 cup almond milk if using canned pumpkin***

The burned sugar on top got all melty in the pudding and gosh, this made my day!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 4:52 PM   30 comments
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Enjoying more of fall...
Yesterday was a pretty crazy day filled with family and friends. My parents met up with us first thing in the morning along with my grandmother to get fresh doughnuts (not for me or the illustrator) and coffee (definitely for me and the illustrator). We left from there to go to our friend Matt and Nayoung's to continue enjoying the fall season. They got an outdoor fire pit last year that they never used and well, it was time to put it to some use!

My mother-in-law gave us marshmallows the size of my fist a couple of weeks ago...


There is nothing better than sitting around a nice warm fire in the early fall roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories to your kids when there is a full moon out!

This was actually my evening snack to balance out the sugar high we were on!  Nayoung made a taco feast and we pulled out the leftovers from earlier when we came back in.  The meal was a hit with all of us.  I love make your own taco feasts!

We were supposed to go to a friend's house to carve more pumpkins today, but she is sick so I will share more from last week!

Family photo (the photos were a mess to load, so sorry if they are weird)...

Max's pumpkin...

Nayoung's pumpkin...

Matt and Tony's freaky monster carving...

Jay's pumpkin...

Matt's pumpkin...

Tony's pumpkin man...

Jay and I at the patch...

Me baking the butternut squash spice muffins...

I just baked a treat that I was going to take to our gathering tonight...I can't wait to share it tomorrow! There was a torch involved!

Anybody do anything fun to enjoy the fall weather this weekend?

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 4:42 PM   22 comments
Friday, October 22, 2010
Bruleed Rice Pudding!
Thank you for all of the great complements on the office! The funny part about all the stuff that is in here, is that we did not purchase any of it with the change over. We had most of it crammed into an extremely small room.  Now we are enjoying a little space...together!

Now, let's talk about food! Fall is officially here and we are loving it. One of our favorite treats during the colder months (not that it is cold, but we are hoping for a little cooler soon) is rice pudding. It is a great way to use up left over rice (along with fried rice)!

This time though, we decided to turn the ordinary...

Into extraordinary!

Make rice pudding (leave out 1/4 cup of sugar). When it is done, sprinkle the top with the 1/4 cup sugar...

light your torch...

this is one of the illustrator's favorite things to do in the kitchen so I let him have this one...

now start to burn the sugar on top... 

keep moving the torch around in small sections until...

everything is golden brown on top...

this forms the most beautiful crust on top...

the burned sugar is unbelievable on top of this creamy center. 

Have you ever taken one of your old family favorites and made it "fancier"? I don't think the boys will let us go back to the old way now.

***You could probably brown the sugar in the broiler too, but make sure you watch it!***

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:44 PM   10 comments
Studio/Office Tour!
I am totally stealing from the illustrator today. He wrote a post on our finished studio. So, in the illustrator's words...

A couple weeks ago I did a major remodeling to our home studio. It was in desperate need of one. Since my wife and I both work from home, and I spend a good 12 + hours a day in here, it needed to be someplace that we both wanted to be in. I'd call my design aesthetic "1950's government office meets 12 year old boy's bedroom". On to the tour!

This is the view as you walk in, well my side anyway. Just to the left of the picture is the supply closet. My wife's side is over to the right. We'll get to that shortly. As you can see, I have a love of industrial metal furniture. I've collected it for years. Some bought, some found, some new, some old. We have matching Steelcase desks. I've hauled these desks around for years... and they aren't light.

Here's my wife's side of the studio. Slightly smaller, but we'll share the drafting table on my side. The shelf holds some visual entertainment for me as well. There's a small tv that we use occasionally, but mostly for music these days. We use the computers for movies since I have no patience for commercials these days. Above the tv is a couple pieces of original artwork. The sitting area is on the right, and the small deck is behind the door straight ahead.

Brian Stelfreeze gave me this piece that he did of one of our sons. I love it, and it's positioned directly in front of me on Sarena's shelf where I can see it all day. It's either an inspiration or a driving force to give up... the jury is still out on that one.

Speaking of giving up... beside Brian's piece is my little Mignola skull and bones original. I pinned it in a shadowbox so you can still see the production notes.

Luke, one of our other studio-mates usually takes over Sarena's chair. Leia must be hiding.

Next to her shelf is a vintage Shaw Walker file cabinet. I eyed this one for years at Victory Vintage in Decatur, GA. It was never for sale, but I was able to finagle it when they closed down.

This is Sarena's side again. There are a couple printers and a few index card files we use for general storage. She has a framed promotional calender press sheet on top of the filing cabinet. This is the only piece of my work in the studio. I tend to loathe my work shortly after it's completed, so having too much of my own work framed would be trouble.

Sarena's desk. As you can tell, we have a fondness for vintage office supplies.

Sarena's stapler. Don't steal it or she's likely to burn your office down.

Back to my side. The kids have claimed these chairs. They usually come in and hang out here after they get home from school. One of the perks of working from home. Between the chairs is a rolling filing cabinet. I'd like to turn it into a little bar Madmen style.

Just past the sitting area is the restroom, and above the chairs are vintage coffee ads. We collect those as well.

On top of the rolling file cabinet is the money plant. It has a freakish ability to know our financial situation before we do. It's the bane of our existence, but don't tell it I said so or a leaf will drop off.

Here's my shelf. It's filled with a pretty odd assortment of items. To name just a few, there are harpoons, a pinned bug collection, a cat skull that needs mounting, military headware, a Russian Ushanka, a dummy bomb ridden by Hellboy, graphic novels, art books, R2-D2, and enough index card files to drive my wife nuts. She thinks I have an issue with "cubbies".

More miscellaneous items layered onto the shelves. There's a derringer in that Boba Fett mug. Where else would it go? Hello? The boxes are filled with trinkets that go back to my childhood.

Here's a little bit of a tank helmet liner and a vietnam era (I think) infantry helmet. I have a lot more of this type thing, but it's stored away.

Hellboy on the bomb, and the sign from my Graphic Design/Illustration firm.

This is a view of the shelves from the drafting table. More Hellboy magnets up top. I obviously love Mignola's work.

And here's the drafting table. This used to belong to Brian Stelfreeze, then Karl Story, and now me. It has seen a lot of use. Behind the drafting table is a large cork board that I use for a rotating collection of inspiration, pieces that need framing, and project notes.

Here are a couple portraits of me drawn by my kids. I think they have me down.

I found this old container of lead in one of the desks when I moved it. It's a piece of wood with little grooves cut into it to hold the lead. How cool is that!

Someone made these badges for us based on my design back when we did the Occult Crimes Taskforce. It actually rotates.

Another prized possession waiting on a frame. Thanks to my friend and agent Paolo Belfiore, the Reverend Dave Johnson drew me as an evil photoshopping racist! That'll teach me to photoshop him into awkward situations.

A monkey mask I picked up while traveling about.

The oily waste can. Feel safe when you're throwing away oily rags here. Just make sure to empty it every night.

Above the sitting area are a few of our vintage coffee ads. Have you read old coffee ads? They're full of lies! LIES!

The second office. You get the point.

A little James Jean postcard above ye old throne.

More vintage items. I love this phisohex soap dispenser from Winthrop Laboratories. Still works great!

Here's my desk. I have the Cintiq on an arm so I can lower it below usual desk height, and I can move it out of the way if necessary.

On the other side of the desk is the laptop that drives the Cintiq. It's a portable setup, but it rarely moves these days. I used to haul it back and forth when I worked from Gaijin Studios.

The arm with Sarena's laptop in the background.

There's a little deck off the studio. I'm still looking for a nice vintage glider rocker so I can do layouts and sketch here. It would work well for the occasional morning cup of coffee or evening drink as well!

Leaving the office, the supply closet is to the right. It's a mess. Trust me, you don't want to see it yet. Out in the hall are a few vintage J.C. Leyendecker coffee ads from the 1940's.

Vintage Stock Room sign above the supply closet.

If there's anything I love more than coffee, it's Leyendecker. You put the two together and it's like chocolate and peanut butter!

Here's the set of three coffee ads. Two more are waiting to be framed.

Alright, that's about it. Hope you enjoyed a little peek at where I spend the bulk of my days. Back to work!

I will be back later with food! Just thought I would show you all where I have been lately.


posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 7:33 AM   16 comments

Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
About Me: Lactose Challenged
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