Scientia potentia est (Knowledge is power).
- Thomas Hobbes

In my attempt to intercept some of the confusion/curiosity that may arise while visiting The Canary Files, here are the answers to some questions that I'm asked on a regular basis.  As questions continue to need answers, this section will continue to grow, so feel free to keep 'em coming.  

Remember - there's no such thing as a stupid question. 

Q: Do you ever "cheat" and have gluten or dairy on occasion?

A:  No.  I've found that my body and my mind feel best with zero gluten and dairy.  I moderate my intake of several other things, such as grains, soy, and refined sugar, but those two are non-negotiable for me.

Q: Are you vegan?

A:  Update: As of mid-October of this year, I am.  Although I used to eat eggs and meat from time to time, as my body continues to change and evolve, I will do my best to respond to what it needs to live optimally.  And as of right now, it feels best for me to be vegan.  In fact, I'm feeling better than ever.

Q: Are you gluten-free by choice?

A: Well, it's my belief that everything we do is a choice.  But if your question concerns the consequences of deviating from my diet, it's definitely not pretty and it's quite painful.  I was never formally diagnosed as having Celiac disease, but through an elimination diet and periodic challenges, I've learned that the symptoms I experienced and that were relieved with the elimination of gluten mirror many of those used to diagnose Celiac disease.  So it's a choice that I take very seriously.

Q:  Do you own a restaurant called "The Canary Kitchen" in Austin?

A:  Short answer - not yet.   But rest assured, it's a goal that's constantly on my mind.  The "Kitchen" I'm referring to in posting photos on Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook is my actual kitchen at home. 

Q: What kind of pans do you use to bake cookies/biscuits?

A:  Unless otherwise specified, I use insulated, non-stick cookie sheet pans.  And in terms of lining, I alternate between parchment paper and silpats.  If one is preferable for a particular application, I will specify.

Q:  Is there a brand of gluten-free all-purpose flour that you prefer?

A:  I like the results of using Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour.  It contains garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour.

Q: In your recipes, a common ingredient is "ground nuts," but not "meal/flour."  What is the exact consistency you're referring to?

A:  I prefer to grind my own nuts.  First, I lightly toast them in the oven and after allowing them to cool and removing the skin (if necessary), I grind them in a food processor.  Letting the processor run for a few seconds and then pulsing it 2-3 times is all that's usually necessary for most nuts.  The consistency/texture I look for is predominantly similar to that of grits (70%), with some larger pieces (20%) as well as the "meal/flour" sand-like consistency (10%).
Q:  Do you bake according to volume or weight?

A:  Thanks to the Gluten Free Ratio Rally and the work of Michael Ruhlman, I now prefer to bake by weight (e.g., grams, ounces, milliliters).  It's a more reliable way to communicate recipes and the best way to ensure consistent results, especially with gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan baking.

Q:  Are you available for hire as a personal chef and/or caterer?
A:  "Yes" to personal chef.  "Perhaps" for catering.  I don't have the space for large scale productions, but if it's a smaller group, then for sure.  Email me at thecanaryfiles@gmail.com for more details.

Q:  Do you have formal training as a chef?
A: No.  With the exception of working as a sous chef from 2000-2001 at an Asian bakery in Michigan, everything I do is self-taught or passed on from my grandmother, sister, or mother.

Q:  What camera do you use for your photographs?

A:  With the exception of my very first posts, all photos were taken with my iPhone4 using the standard camera app that comes with the phone.  I do post-editing with Photogene2 and sometimes will use that app's camera function for it's stabilizer, since my hands have a tendency to not be so stable.

Q:  Will I link to your blog, follow you on various social networks, or review books/apps/restaurants?

A:  I'm a big fan of networking, but honestly it depends.  It never hurts to ask, though. :)


[to be continued...]


  1. Hiya, Jonathan! Quick question about your iPhone4 photography: do you use the standard photo app that comes with it or is it another app?

    Thank you!
    xox, Morri

  2. That's a great question, Morri. I do use the standard app, and from time to time I use the camera function on my editing app, Photogene2. btw- Sorry it took so long to reply. :)


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