Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cats inspire "Ginger Cats" recipe

I can’t imagine cooking without my cats in the kitchen. All I have to do is clang a few pans around in the kitchen, and my feline crew reports for duty. They include Oreo, an 11-year-old female, and Pumpkin, a one-year-old male. The kitchen seems like an appropriate place for two cats with food names. Sometimes, they invite their dog pal, Kona, an eight-year-old female Golden Retriever.

The trio entertains me with their antics while I cook. There’s something reassuring about having them with me while I undertake the challenges of learning how to cook appetizing menus on a rotation diet due to multiple food allergies.

I was diagnosed with multiple food allergies about a year ago after suffering with environmental allergies/asthma all my life. Hypothyroidism and a rare stomach disorder, called gastroparesis, are other cooking challenges. I've tried eliminating offending foods, only to develop new allergies. Just about every food, if I eat it too often, becomes an enemy. Now I undertake the challenge of following a rotation diet, where I rotate all foods and eat them only once every four days. By following such a plan, my body doesn't get enough of particular foods to label them as enemies. I’m sure there are many of you, like me, who can benefit from having a place to gather and share ideas about rotation diets and food allergies/intolerances.

My cats and dog have warmed my heart and cheered me up on many a day when I haven’t felt up to par. It seemed fitting to name this site and my first posted recipe after them. I was thinking of gingerbread cookies but thought, what about “ginger cat” cookies. I altered a Finnish gingerbread men recipe to be free of many allergens. After rolling out the dough, I used hand-drawn, paper cat patterns to cut out big cats and little cats. As you can see from the picture, Oreo was pleased with the results.

Recipe for Spicy Ginger Cats

(Words of wisdom from Oreo: “Cats get better with age.” The same is true of the Ginger Cats. Wait a day to eat them, and the spicy flavor will be more intense.)

2/3 cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening
½ cup maple syrup (add up to ¾ cup if you like them sweeter)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼- ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional, if you want the cookies beyond just spicy)
1/8 teaspoon each ground cardamom, ground coriander and ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons gluten-free baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup garbanzo bean flour
1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
¼-1/3 cup water
For decorating: melt 77 % cacao dark chocolate or Sunspire vegan carob chips

Cream shortening and maple syrup together in a medium bowl. Add spices and beat well.
Add baking soda, salt, flours, xanthum gum, cider vinegar and enough water to make a smooth, easy-to-handle dough. Roll into a ball. Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Press ball into a disk and roll out on a lightly floured board to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into cat or other shapes. Use purchased cookie cutters. I didn’t have any cat cookie cutters. I drew cats on paper, cut out the patterns, laid them on the dough and cut around them with a knife. Place the cookies about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Chill the dough in between batches.
Bake 7-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Stay nearby and keep an eye on the cookies to make sure they don’t get overdone. Cool the cookies on the pan for 2-3 minutes. Then remove to completely cool on wire racks. Decorate. Melt chocolate or carob chips and use a clean small paintbrush to add features. I improvised and use Q-tips since I didn’t have a paintbrush.
Makes about 1-3 dozen cookies, depending on size. I was able to make eight big cats and 4 small.


Lea Ray said...

A kitchen just isn't a kitchen without cats in it. I can't do anything in my kitchen without my 3 cats (and now my one dog). The cookies are so cute.

Sheree Welshimer said...

Thank you and I totally agree about having cats and their friends in the kitchen. I liked your picture with your furry friend.