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Behind the Scenes: Inside Living Without’s Test Kitchen

A nice part of my job is working with Madalene Rhyand, the director of our test kitchen. Madalene, who lives in Florida, is dairy intolerant and her husband is egg free. She’s not a professional chef, just a talented woman who loves to cook. And I mean loves. She is also a baking self-soother, one of those people who bakes to relieve stress. I can’t imagine it, but I’m sure glad that testing our recipes is her idea of relaxation.

Madalene regularly e-mails me to report her progress in the kitchen. Here’s an example of her notes as she tested two recipes featured in the February/March issue.

The ladyfingers didn’t rise much. They’re light and delicate and have a very good flavor. A texture a little like French Madeleines . . . . The banana ginger muffins came out really great. They taste delicious with a bread-like texture. . . .

With Christmas just days away, one of Madalene’s latest notes contained an urgent aside: My tree isn’t up yet! And then she shared the story behind testing our egg-less Egg Nog, the recipe featured in last week’s e-recipe:

What a discovery! The eggless, dairy-free, gluten-free nog tastes just like I remember egg nog tastes. The recipe is so simple that I could have whipped it up in just a few minutes–only I couldn’t find a young coconut. No coconuts were available at the local health food store or at the nearby upscale supermarket. My last stop was the Asian store, where I finally found frozen young coconut after many very interesting attempts at cross-lingual conversation with the owner. (I’m glad somebody can tell a coconut’s age!)

Straining the egg nog was tiresome, so I only strained half. I tested the unstrained portion on a neighbor who declared it to be “wonderful.” This is a very healthy alternative to conventional egg nog. I love the spicy, sweet “reminds me of Christmas” taste.

If you missed our allergy-friendly egg-less egg nog recipe, no worries. We posted it on Gluten Free & More, so you can make it too!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas with lots of healthy, allergy-friendly holiday cheer!