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Gluten-free holiday tips and tricks

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 10:00am

For those who are sensitive to gluten, have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten to help weight loss, holiday dinners might seem like a minefield to avoid.

But they don’t have to be.

Most holiday dinner mainstays can be made gluten-free with a just a few tweaks.

One thing to keep in mind- marinades, seasonings, broth and gravy can all contain gluten. Deceptive, right? Check the ingredients list on seasonings, and make sure to purchase an unseasoned, fresh turkey.

To thicken gravy and keep it gluten-free, stir a few tablespoons of rice flour in with the natural juices from the bird as it cooks.

For stuffing, follow the standby family recipe and substitute gluten-free cornbread or gluten-free bread cubes for regular bread.

For pie crust, try gluten-free hard cookies, such as gingersnaps. Process them into crumbs using a food processor, and combine with butter to make a classic crumb crust. Want to make it vegan, too? Substitute organic coconut oil for the butter.

There is no gluten in potatoes, so mashed potatoes are game on-- as long as they are prepared from scratch. Peel potatoes, boil until soft and mash with butter and a little bit of whole milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: Most dairy products don’t contain gluten, but some with added flavoring do, so it’s important to check the ingredient list.

Whether you’re feeding a group or cooking for one, here are some gluten-free recipes to add to the mix:

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 14-16 ounce bag of Brussels Sprouts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Chop sprouts into quarters.
  2. Place in a saucepan on medium heat and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Cook sprouts for 20-25 minutes, allowing the outer leaves to caramelize and turn brown in places. Toss occasionally.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve.

 

Maple-Glazed Carrots

Ingredients

  • 12 large carrots, peeled
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

 

Directions

  1. Cut carrots into 2" lengths, then halve or quarter the pieces lengthwise so that all the carrots are in equal-size strips.
  2. Melt butter in a large heavy sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add carrots, cover, and braise, stirring occasionally, until carrots are fork-tender, 20–30 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium, and stir in syrup and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for 2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add thyme and mix well.

Serves 8. Recipe courtesy Saveur.com.

Green Bean Casserole with Red Curry and Peanuts

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds haricots verts or thin green beans
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the coconut milk, red curry paste and the cornstarch mixture until smooth. Add the sauce to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the mushrooms. Add the sauce and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer the beans to a shallow 3-quart ceramic baking dish and sprinkle the peanuts over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until heated through and the peanuts are lightly golden.

Recipe courtesy Food & Wine.

‘Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life,’ by Hermione Lee

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 9:59am
Hermione Lee’s latest biography is of the English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald, a late bloomer who published her first book at 58 and became famous at 80.

Only light rain recorded Thursday night

Ventura County Star - Local News - November 21, 2014 - 9:38am

Only light rainfall was recorded Thursday night and early Friday in Ventura County, but more rain and cool temperatures are forecast for late next week.

According to the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, rainfall totals were 0.03 inch in Oxnard and Port Hueneme and 0.01 inch in Camarillo, Simi Valley and Ojai.

An air mass and strong winds were expected to clear out the clouds, according to the National Weather Service. A warming and drying trend, along with Santa Ana winds, are forecast for early next week.

Wind advisories might be issued Monday and Tuesday. The winds could subside Thursday as another storm system approaches the area.

Only light rain recorded Thursday night

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 9:38am

Only light rainfall was recorded Thursday night and early Friday in Ventura County, but more rain and cool temperatures are forecast for late next week.

According to the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, rainfall totals were 0.03 inch in Oxnard and Port Hueneme and 0.01 inch in Camarillo, Simi Valley and Ojai.

An air mass and strong winds were expected to clear out the clouds, according to the National Weather Service. A warming and drying trend, along with Santa Ana winds, are forecast for early next week.

Wind advisories might be issued Monday and Tuesday. The winds could subside Thursday as another storm system approaches the area.

Ventura County jobless rate dips to 6.3%

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 9:32am

Ventura County’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent last month from 6.4 percent in September, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.

California’s was unchanged at 7.3 percent. Nonfarm payroll jobs increased statewide by 41,500 in October, for a total gain of 1.4 million jobs since the recovery began in February 2010.

The U.S. unemployment rate decreased in October to 5.8 percent.

This story will be udpated.

The Shortlist: Val Wang's 'Beijing Bastard,' and More

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 9:20am
New books by Val Wang, Xiaolu Guo, Tim Clissold and Liu Zhenyun.

Board discusses policy on troubled students

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 9:19am

The Pleasant Valley School District has made strides in helping at-risk kids but still could do more, a board member said at Thursday night's meeting.

"We still have kids who fall through the cracks, and it is heartbreaking," Debra Kuske told her fellow board members as they reviewed the district's policy for students who are homeless, using drugs or having serious behavior or academic problems.

The board discussed deleting the district's at-risk students policy because it has been folded into two other official documents: the district's dropout prevention policy and its Local Control Accountability Plan, which helps set spending priorities. The board, however, took no action on the matter Thursday.

Kuske said she's concerned that deleting the at-risk students policy might send a message that the district isn't committed to those kids, even if it is duplicated in other documents.

"These are the kids who often don't have parents who advocate for them," she said. "Everybody's busy, there's very little money in our budgets, and these are the kids who could get looked past as we're trying to allocate here or there."

District staff members suggested the board delete the policy at the recommendation of the California School Boards Association, which helps boards keep policies current and compliant with state law.

Kuske said she hopes the district will "make a stronger statement about at-risk students" to send a message to the community and encourage future boards to support programs for those kids.

Other board members didn't specifically weigh in on Kuske's proposal, but some said they thought the district was doing a number of positive things for troubled youths already.

"Just because we're deleting this policy does not mean we're not taking care of those students," board clerk Kelly Long said.

Superintendent RaeAnn Michael said the district has made big improvements in programs for at-risk students, and she offered to have staff members compile a list.

"Many of us are spending 80 percent of our time on at-risk kids — they're not falling through the cracks," she said.

In other matters Thursday, the board heard a report on the district's child-care program, which has grown to 490 students, up from 195 four years ago. Some child-care sites, such as those at La Mariposa and Tierra Linda schools, are bursting at the seams, said Kelli Sparks, the district's child-care coordinator.

Places in holiday films you may actually visit

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 9:00am

When you order pizza, do you tell the driver to “keep the change, ya filthy animal?"

Do you still dream of your "When Harry Met Sally" New Year’s kiss?

If so, you’ll love this map of Holiday movie filming locations. Be sure to zoom in or open the full sized map as several are in NYC, Chicago, and LA.

Ultimate Holiday Movie Locations | My Collection itinerary on Roadtrippers.com!
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Here are a few of the massive list’s highlights:

A Christmas Story
The Christmas dinner scene at Bo’ Ling Chop Suey Palace is one of the most memorable of the movie, and you can still eat there. You just will be getting French food instead of Chinese.

When Harry Met Sally
Most of the scenes are shot at favorite NYC spots… The MetCentral Park, etc., but we know you only want to know where Meg Ryan had her, uh, excellent sandwich. Well, it’s Katz’s Deli.

Home Alone
The house, of course, is the focus of the movie, but you can actually visit the store where Kevin ran away with his toothbrush. Now it’s a Panera.

Home Alone 2
The Waldorf and Central Park are the obvious spots Kevin spends time in, but do you remember the now-defunct little diner from the movie? Or how about the Chicago interior that served as Duncan’s Toy Chest?

See these and other holiday film locations in this article from Roadtrippers.com, including the movies "Die Hard," "Jingle All the Way," "Elf" and more.

Open Book: A ‘No Wing’ Author

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 8:08am
Carolyn Chute is as unclassifiable and unruly in her books as she is in person.

Carolyn Chute’s ‘Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves’

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 8:06am
Some residents of Egypt, Maine, fear a communal settlement and its enigmatic leader; others are irresistibly attracted.

Paperback Row

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 8:02am
Paperback books of particular interest.

Editors’ Choice

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 7:57am
Recently reviewed books of particular interest.

Inside the List

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 7:52am
Richard Ford, whose latest Frank Bascombe book is on the extended hardcover fiction list, had originally named his character Frank Slocum.

ArtsBeat: The New Republic’s Party Includes Bill Clinton, Toasts and Whispers of Unease

NY Times Books - November 21, 2014 - 7:50am
Chris Hughes, the owner, gives a speech about looking toward the future and embracing experimentation. The editors talk about protecting the past.






Ahead of Ferguson Decision, Attorney General Urges Calm, Restraint

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 21, 2014 - 6:56am
Attorney General Eric Holder is urging police to minimize confrontation and protesters to be peaceful ahead of a grand jury decision on whether to indict the police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

Website streams thousands of private webcam feed

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 6:27am

British authorities are warning the public about a Russian website that streams thousands of live webcams around the world. 

The site includes webcam feeds of a variety of public places, such as businesses, but many show private residences. Several of the hacked cameras appear to be acting as baby monitors and show children sleeping in cribs. (Video via CNN)

Most of the cams are older models being used for security or to check on homes while the owner is away. The site also gives the location of each specific feed, and although they are coming in from all over the world — more than 4,000 feeds are from the U.S. (Video via Foscam)

It's possible to access to the feeds because their owners haven't changed the default username and password that came with the device, and in some cases, they don't even have a password set up at all. So some argue you can't technically call this a "hack" considering all the data needed to gain access to the cams is readily available on the Internet. 

Sky News spoke with the site's alleged administrator, who said the purpose of the site is to show people how easy it is gain access to the cameras. He also said the site would be taken down "only when all cameras will be password protected."

U.K. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told the BBC his department is working with Russian authorities to shut down the site, but people should not just sit and wait for the government to handle the situation. 

"It is spooky. But after all, it is the responsibility of the parents to set a proper password if you want remote access," Graham said. 

To get their webcam feeds removed from the site, all users have to do is reset their passwords.

This video contains an image from John Brian Silverio / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

New York Beats Los Angeles for Funerals

New York Times - California News - November 21, 2014 - 5:30am
Metropolitan Diary: A Los Angeles resident found it odd that his city is cheaper to live in but more costly to die in than New York.

LA-area storm triggers foothill mudslides

Ventura County Star Top Stories - November 21, 2014 - 5:24am
GLENDORA, Calif. (AP) — Rare Southern California rains triggered mudslides in an area of the Los Angeles-area foothills scorched bare by a wildfire earlier this year.   Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervisor Kyle Sandford says a 4-foot-high flow of debris went through a home in the suburb of Glendora before dawn Friday.   Sandford tells City News Service an earlier debris flow covered a vehicle in the driveway of the residence.   The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning after a storm dumped hail and heavy rain across the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains from Pasadena to as far east as Claremont.   The Colby Fire burned nearly 2,000 acres of brush in the hills above Glendora earlier this year.

Fed Launches Bank-Supervision Review

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 21, 2014 - 3:43am
The Federal Reserve launched a sweeping review of how it supervises big banks amid growing criticism that its process for policing Wall Street isn’t effective and stifles internal dissent.

Iran, West Race to Forge Nuclear Deal

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - November 21, 2014 - 1:15am
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Vienna, seeking to advance nuclear talks with Iran amid growing signs a deal could prove elusive before the Nov. 24 deadline.
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