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Category Archives: Product Review

Cup for Cup Review – Round 4

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Given my previous posts, you may be surprised that I am still testing this out.  In frustration at the gooey texture of the flour, I actually dumped in a load of my usual flour, mixing it at about a one to one ratio.  Husband was watching this, curious as to why I would risk perfectly acceptable flour by mixing it in with the Cup for Cup mix, but he still doesn’t quite understand the depth of my frugality = ).

I thought that mixing the Cup for Cup mix with some other GF flour would cut doing on the gooey factor, and it did, but not enough to make things appetizing.  I made a fruit cake with the mixed mix, and it still came out weird.  I then seriously considered my options, and I realized that I needed to bake things that didn’t involve a lot of liquid.  I moved on to cheese scones, and those came out nicely.  I think cookies would work well too.

So basically, if you mix Cup for Cup with another GF flour mix and use it to bake things that are only just moistened, you get a fairly decent baked good.  That is all a bit to finicky for me, so I think I will be leaving the Cup for Cup mix on the shelf…

Cup for Cup Review – Round 3

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For my third test of Cup for Cup flour, I decided to make sticky gingerbread, with lots of treacle.  I had high hopes, because I love this gingerbread recipe and there isn’t much that can stand between me and this cake.  Luckily, Husband was also in the kitchen, watching me bake, and confirmed most of my impressions of this flour.

The batter came out quite unappetizingly gooey again, and the resulting cake was very spongy.  The taste wasn’t affected, but the texture was a bit off-putting, particularly because the cake tended to stick together once it was cut.  It also came out a bit damp again, with a vague texture of being undercooked, but the cake was done (if that makes any sense).

In other words, I have not been too impressed, and I would not buy this flour mix if it were up to me.  I understand that the GF mixes available in Europe tend to be a higher quality than what is available in the States, so maybe the Cup for Cup flour is the best available in the States.  However, based on what is available in Europe, I think the mix is lacking.

Cup for Cup test – Brownies

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For round two with the Cup for Cup flour, I decided to try brownies.  Actually, I didn’t have enough butter to make a cake, so I had to go with brownies.  I made them as I usually do, using the recipe here, and again the batter came out very pudding-like.  I was a bit worried when I put the batter into the baking dish, because it looked like it would make quite thin, hard brownies, but the batter ended up rising some.  The brownies were still somewhat thinner than normal, but the taste was fine.

However, these also came out spongy and vaguely damp.  No one complained, really, but when you’re serving brownies to a bunch of Czech and Slovak people, you aren’t really going up against a strong opinion of how a brownie should be.  Husband did flash me a “not quite right” look, but ate them anyway.  I think the sponginess comes from the amount of xantham gum in the mix, but I can’t be exactly sure.

So, compared to what I normally bake with, and price aside, I am not too impressed so far.

Cup for Cup review – Pancakes

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My father sent me a bag of Cup for Cup gluten free flour, with the request that I try it out to see how it works.  I gamely agreed to it, and I thought it would make a nice number of posts, since I rarely discuss what kind of GF flour blend I use most.

To be fair, I was a little put off by the price – $20 for 3 lbs, or thereabouts – especially since the ingredients are nothing special and are, in fact, quite similar to the GF flours you get through Schar and Dove Farms.  The Cup for Cup flour blend has milk powder in it, so it is not casein-free, but it does not contain soy flour (I don’t like GF mixes with soy flour in them).  My other caveat is that I am used to the GF blends we get in Europe, which are far superior to what you can get in the States (don’t ask me why, but it is true).

First off, I made whole grain pancakes.  I used a 50/50 ratio of my Schar whole grain GF mix and the Cup for Cup mix.  The mix came out gooey, much more so than normal.  It had the consistency of pudding, but I was afraid to thin it anymore.  Since it was so pudding like, the pancakes were thicker than normal, and not quite dry in the middle.  The taste was fine, but the consistency was a bit off.  We ate them, but I wasn’t too happy about how they came out.

GF sandwiches, in a store?

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No really, it’s true.  I saw it with my own eyes.  I even ate one.  Marks and Spencer is selling two types of GF sandwiches in its sandwich aisle.  I had the egg and tomato one, and I think the other was some cheese and ham combination.  The wrapping said that the GF sandwiches are in response to customer demand, which I can imagine.  It is really hard to eat GF when you’re running about in the city or on a train, and it’s nice to think that they would listen to all the GF people out there screaming for ready to eat food.

But…… But really, four pounds for a sandwich that had two cherry tomatoes and half a boiled egg in it?  Yes, four quid, which is something like seven US dollars, and more expensive than M&S’s high end sandwiches.  If you want a drink and some crisps/chips, that’s extra.  So boo on that count.  You might be thinking though, if you’re starving, you’d be willing to fork it out.  I agree, but the sandwich wasn’t that good either.  The filling was good, but the GF bread was kind of airy and really fell apart, more so than normal, which isn’t so pretty when you’re sitting on a train with a bunch of strangers, trying desperately not to look like you’ve never eaten in public before.  Plus, there was a kind of slimy bread coating on the bits that were touching the wrapper.  Apparently, regular bread absorbs the condensation in sandwich packaging, whereas GF bread just kind of bonds to it and becomes slick.

So, will I be buying another one any time soon?  Probably not, though the thrill of being able to buy a sandwich, just once, and eat it on the run was worth the four pounds.  Do I recommend these sandwiches?  Well, again, four pounds for the thrill of being able to grab a sandwich like everyone else is pretty compelling, just once, so by all means, indulge.

As an aside, the M&S GF baps are outstanding, not too crumbly, and not too expensive.  At just over two pounds for four, perhaps M&S could start making sandwiches out of those and selling them?  I would pay four pounds for that.  (anyone listening out there?)

GF playdough

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We’ve had a string of houseguests recently, so I haven’t been doing much cooking and don’t have much to blog about.  On the other hand, we have been getting a few gifts here and there, and Daugther got one that I feel like I should share.

I’ve never allowed regular playdough in the house because it is a gluten-carrying mess.  It ends up under fingernails, on the floor, in the nooks and crannies of tables, on cookie cutters, everywhere.  Obviously, I’ve encouraged Daugther to play with it to her heart’s content in other place, like nursery and preschool, since it’s great for creativity and fine motor development.  I’ve looked and looked for GF stuff, but have only been able to find it in classroom-sized 5 lb blocks, which is a bit much for us, really.

Imagine our delight and surprise then when a recent guest showed up with Mama-Ks Play Clay.  It’s GF, beautifully coloured, and smells lovely.  The colors aren’t as bright as in playdough, since she only uses natural dyes, but that hasn’t been an issue at all.  How this stuff sticks together is beyond me, but it does, and it feels a bit like homemade playdough, but grainier.  It works like a charm and doesn’t flake too much either.

So Daughter and I have been making dough creatures and faces all weekend, making up for lost GF playdough time.  It’s been a great relief to finally find GF playdough, as I was always feeling a bit as if I were denying Daughter one of the pleasures of childhood.  This has been a great gift, and when it runs out, I will definitely be ordering more.

A weekly veggie box

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I am typing this as I am waiting for the veggie box man to make his weekly delivery.  Honestly, I flip back and forth on the weekly vegetable box, delivered straight to your door.  When I read stories about the whole Victoria Plum business going on, where major grocery stores won’t sell British plums because they can make 5p more a kilo selling the ones from Chile, or something along those lines, I am happy I get the veggie box.  Then I have to pay for it, and sometimes I wind up with a lot more kale than we’ll ever eat, and I wonder if it is worth it.

The pros of the veggie box are that it is delivered straight to your door, without you even having to think about it.  That means you don’t spend as much time meandering around the store, thinking up things to buy. It also always contains some new veg to try, which has led us to the realization that we like broad beans and other things I would otherwise never look for in the store.  In addition, everything is always fresh and organic, so it last longer in the fridge (we’re starting week 3 on one bunch of kale).  Finally, the company we uses sources everything locally first, and then goes slowly out in small zones, without ever air-freighting.  It is also very nice that it is delivered to your door, so you just open your door, say “thank you”, and get your vegetables for the week.

The honest cons are that sometimes you get a mix that isn’t very inspirational for you.  Last week we got eggplant/aubergine, celery, and what I think might be button squash.  They are nice, though we’re still debating what to do with the squash (it would help if I knew what it was called), but it doesn’t lead either Sister-in-law or myself to any inspiring dinner plans.  Then you don’t know what to cook, and you can’t plan, and you end up not using what you  have and buying what you want in the store.

Another thing is the price, I won’t kid, but if you try out a few plans, then you can find what seems to work out best.  We only started on the weekly box again because they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, but I’ll probably stop it again after the offer ends.  I suppose, if you factor in all the non-essential buying you do when you’re in the store, then the box probably saves some money.  As it is, since we order staples once a month and have veggies delivered weekly, I only go in to the store to buy eggs and fruit every two or three weeks.

So, I waffle back and forth, is the veggie box a good idea or not?  I like having the in-season, local produce, which does wonders for your body rhythm, but I don’t like being stuck trying to figure out what to do with a kilo of kale.  I could put kale on the do not deliver list, but it isn’t that we don’t like to eat it.  It’s more that we don’t like to eat it for five days in a row.  I could go down to the market for my in-season, local produce, but that is a schlep, and the big chains don’t always sell it.  So for now, we have it, although I am sure I’ll change my mind again soon.

P.S. I just took delivery on our box, and this week is chock full of things we’ll eat without blinking.  I am already planning dinners and drooling over the freshness of it all.  That is how it goes with the weekly veggie box, honestly.