Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Gluten-free update

I had a request to post my recipe for gluten-free bagels. I haven't made them in a while, so last night I whipped up a batch for practice. The variety I made last night was cinnamon-raisin.

Laura's Gluten Free Bagels

1 1/2 cps very warm water
1 Tbsp quick rise yeast(slighty rounded)
1/3 cp sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cp oil
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
3-4 cps gluten free flours
1 1/2 tsp salt

Using a heavy duty mixer(like kitchen aid) with the regular beater attachment, mix warm water, sugar, yeast, eggs and oil. Mix a little and let sit to allow yeast to soften. Meanwhile, measure into another bowl three cups of flour(I like the combo of brown rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch,(mainly), with a few tbsp of sorghum flour, and oat flour thrown in. Just use a mix of gritty and starchy flours), the salt, and xanthan gum. Measure aside enough plain flour to add to achieve the right consistency. Scoop the flour mix into the liquids, mixing on low speed. It will get very thick and clumpy. After you add all the flour mix, check for proper consistency. Dough will be sticky, but if you take a clean spoon and touch it to a clump of dough, it should only leave a skimming on the back of the spoon when you pull the spoon away. It should not pull a long string of dough away. If it does, add flour 1/4 cp at a time, and mix well, till you achieve the correct consistency. On a floured surface (I like brown rice and tapiocal starch), and using a large spoon, scoop out eight or ten large clumps of dough, each one about the size of a racquet ball (bigger than a golf ball), or more smaller ones, if you like the petite sized bagels. Dust them with flour, and using your hands, push a finger into the center and form the hole, turning it flat on the surface, lightly pinch and turn, expanding the hole to about an inch. Do your best to keep the dough wad in tact,(no cracks or crevices) as it doesn't stick to itself once it has been floured, and will pull apart during the rising process. After you form all the shapes, brush with a mix of oil and water, to keep them from drying out. On a board, or pan lined with wax paper, place in oven that heat has been turned off(I also dump a half cup of water in the bottom of my oven to provide additional steam and moisture--you could also pour boiling water in a pan underneath).
Let rise till puffed (about 40 min). Preheat oven to 400* Boil large pot of water with a couple tbsp of sugar added. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, carefully insert each bagel into the boiling water for about 15 sec on a side. Scoop out, blot bottom of spoon on towel, and place onto greased (well) cookie/baking sheet(I use airbake). Brush with beaten egg. After pan is filled, bake at 400* for about 20 minutes (less if small ones), til very brown, and shiny. Remove onto wire racks and cool completely before cutting(better if you wait till the next day or several hours later--they firm up a bit).
TIPS--try adding 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cp raisins or dry blueberries, change your flours and fill one cup with amaranth, flax meal, and other meals or grains for a multigrain option. Add several Tbsp of dried onion flakes to batter for onion flavored.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Haiti Has Disturbed Me

I have to say, this earthquake in Haiti and the resulting devistation has disturbed me. The plight of the orphans has especially bothered me. I am usually a hard-hearted type who can watch sponsor-type commercials without any reaction, but I viewed a clip from Doug Phillip's blog(of of the children at one orphanage of which 58 are still alive, many of which only looked about 1 to 3 years of age. All were crying, and from what I have heard, there is no food, no clean water, and they are so scared they cling to anyone who will let them.
All I could think of was my own baby. Keith is 19 months old. What would I do if it was Keith who was one of those babies?? If he (or my other children), had no food, no water, and no one to care for them?? The terror they would feel would rip me up. If I was a mother in that position, and had to watch my children starve, or get sick, I would be panicky.
I tell you, every time I have watched that report, I can't keep the tears from flowing. Hubby and I have talked it over and decided that we are going to be keeping tabs on the coverage and if there is some way of sheltering (be it temporary or permanent) one or more of these many orphans, we are willing to do it. I don't know what will be involved, or how quickly rescue workers will enable these children to come, but we are willing!
Many may say,"But you are pregnant, how will you manage all that??" or "you don't have room in your little tiny house", or "are you sure this is God's will and not just your own imagination?"
All I can say is that I wondered when Nathan was a baby, how I could manage with more than one, and I have three now. Our house maybe small, but it is probably a mansion to any of these children, and as far as God's will goes, His Word tells us that true religion is to look after the orphans and the widows, if we obey His Word, how much more of His will do we need?? Christ wants us to view loving, caring for, feeding, clothing one of these orphans as if we were loving, and caring for Christ himself--for they truly are the least of these--not wanted by anyone really--many left to starve in fear, and isolation.
Anyway, if you want to help, go to and look under Doug Phillips' blog. He is currently on his way to Haiti to do what he can for these orphans, and is in need of funding. They are taking a medical staff, other workers and a film crew to try and get the story out as accurately as possible. This is one ministry that I guarantee will do all they can with money's given, and I am sure Doug Phillips himself (and his wife and eight children) would not hesitate to take a whole bushel of these children into their own home if need be. There is no false holiness there--they are all about following God in obedience no matter where it leads, or how hard or inconvenient it may be. Please join with us!!

I did it!

I have been itching to get at my sewing machine for awhile. I go through spurts where I sew a lot and other times when even buttons don't make it back on the shirts...
But I have had a few projects gnawing on me that I'd like to get done. One being to sew a bedskirt for my bed. We have hiked our bed up so we could use the space for storage. The risers worked great, but it's so high you can see everything underneath. So I thought if I stitched up a bedskirt to hide everything, that would make our bedroom look a little more presentable.
The other thing I have been wanting to try is to make myself some maternity clothes. When I unpacked them, I realized that I had very few winter maternity clothes. The friend who gave them to me was pregnant in Missouri in the summer, so there was little need for warm clothes for her. However, three out of four of mine have been through the winter, and I can't figure out how I managed with so few tops. I found like two pairs of pants and four shirts or so.
Anyway, with my frugal mind, I have been snagging cheap, pretty print/solid sheets at our local thrift store. So far I have a medium blue, light blue, pale yellow, tiny floral print, burgandy, and a pretty tan/brown print. Each sheet is enough to make a coupla shirts or maybe one longish dress. So the other day I measured myself carefully, added on an inch for seam allowance, and last night I drew out the pieces on the first piece of fabric(floral print), and cut them out and started sewing! I finished it tonight, and minus a snag or two, that I was able to iron out(sew many puns!!), it came out perfect and exactly what I was hoping to make. I have never tried making something for myself without a pattern before. I have sewed lotsa dresses and other things for myself, but never without a pattern. What a high!!
The fact that it fit comfortably and adequately shocked me...usually when I go off on my own I don't measure big enough, and it's small (even for non-clothing items). But it worked. It's just a high-waisted, 3/4 sleeved pull over with a scoop neck. I can't show you any pictures cause I'll have to wait until hubby can snap one for me(I can't take my own--nothing to put the camera on, and I can't hold it far enough away).
I still have lots of this print left, and am trying to decide which one to use next. The neat thing is that I could adapts this to a dress, a short-sleeved shirt or dress, a sleeveless shirt or dress etc. Yayyyyy!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I think I have given up

I realize that I only just started a couple of days ago, but my urge to experiment with the gluten free thing is already fizzling.
The sourdough starter I created seemed great--bubbly, slightly sour/yeasty smelling, about right, and not gross or anything. But I can't seem to figure out what to aim for. Am I looking for a batter bread recipe?? Where you don't really rise it, but just mix and bake?? (the presence of baking powder inclines me to think so) Or am I looking to mix a stiffer dough-type mixture that has to rise before baking...And the absence of xanthan gum baffles me. For all of you who may not know what I am talking about, xanthan gum replaces gluten in gf baking. In regular baking, the gluten is the binding agent that holds the starch and bran particles suspended in the dough, so the flour doesn't just fall to the bottom with a layer of water on the top. Well, in gf baking, the flours settle on the bottom and the liquid collects on the top, if your mixture is more of a batter. The invention of xanthan gum works as a defloculant (sp?), and provides enough tooth to the liquid to keep the particles afloat through the baking process. This is why you may see it in salad dressings, chocolate milk(to keep the chocolate from settling at the bottom) and other things that need this sort of thickener. According to the ingredient list, there is none in the gluten free bread from this bakery...All the ones I have tried to make not using it are heavy, dense, and/or gummy. The bakery bread is light, springy and has a good firm, whole grain bread texture.
Anyway, I have tried three different recipes and they all have flopped miserably...I just threw them away. They smelled overly sour, didn't rise well, and had a brittle, crumbly texture.
So for now, I think I shall leave gf bread baking up to the experts, and content myself with simply eating the fruits of their labor...
If I change my mind and try again, I'll let you all know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Have Been Experimenting

Any of you who know me know that I was diagnosed with an intolerance to wheat and gluten some time ago. I have been eating a gluten free diet for I think two years now, (with the occasional--very occasional cheating).
Well anyway, I have been making my own gluten free bread because the gf bread you can buy, for the most part, tastes like cardboard, and has nothing nourishing to offer. The best bread I was able to create after much recipe use and going off on my own tasted pretty good for about two days, then it would start to dry out, and by the end of a week was so dry it would often have cracks acrossed it, and would crumble apart.
However, I found a bakery that sells wheat free bread that is delicious. The list of ingredients sounds so simple and calls for none of the ingredients that make good gluten free bread so expensive(ie several eggs, cream cheese, or xanthan gum, not to mention all the flour that is so pricy).
So I got online and started researching one night and decided I am going on a hunt. I cannot find any recipes that are similar to the list of ingredients on the bag of this wonderful bread. So, I am striking out on my own, and doing some experimenting to see if I can find a way to make a similar bread with similar ingredients to the bakery bread. I was used to making my own wheat bread, but would make it four loaves at a time, whereas I can only make maybe two if I stretch it (of gf bread), and half the time, the gf bread would fall, get gummy, or other similar problem, so I would go to all the work and still have to make crumbs out of it.
I am trying a sourdough method, which I had done with wheat and know the process pretty thoroughly, so we'll see how it comes out. If I have any success, I will be sure to let you know!! If I can pin it down to a science, maybe ya'll will see my name on a cookbook at Barnes and Nobles next year! So far this process seems like there might be merit in it, it just takes about three days to complete, which most people don't have time for(including myself), but if it creates good edible bread that I can make myself, and perhaps in larger quantities, three days is no big deal.
Hey Jen--out there in Cali, have you seen much of this kind of product??

Friday, January 15, 2010

Allow Me A Little Rant

My hubby and I have been keeping our eyes and ears open for housing that could be available for purchase, that would be in our price range(which isn't a whole lot). From time to time we hear of something and check it out only to find it usually in need of a lot of work.
So this morning we went to look at a house just a few miles down the road, to see if it had any possibilities. It might. Let's just say it was very rough, needed lotsa TLC, but it wasn't impossible.
The rant that I want to share has to do with a mindset that we come in contact with periodically that drives me crazy. It's this mindset of people whining about their finances, and not having sufficient income, and yet if you get a chance to see how they have spent the money they have, you kinda wonder about their priorities.
I am NOT downtalking people who are poor. Many people could look at us and call us poor. We live within our means, but as respectfully, and as civilized as possible.
I mean the people who don't repair their homes, claiming insufficient income. People who close their eyes to the mess and chaos around them, whine about their circumstances, but own big screen tvs, and multiple dogs, or other large animals that need a lot of care and expense, and are unwilling to change things and make the hard decisions.
I have often said I would love to be a budget coach, to help people get out of debt, as the journey has been so satisfying to us. There are other times when I am not so sure I would make a good budget coach, because I would be telling people point blank that certain things about their life style would have to change...Sell the tvs, the horses, pay your utility bills. Get rid of all but one dog. Make do with fewer cars. Cancel the tv and internet service(gasp!). Too many people want to spend their money on what they want, and not on what they should. Unfortunately, it seems like people who don't work for their money(disability/welfare) tend to have this mindset more than anyone--which is a shame, because dependence on the government is what the government wants, so they are playing into the government's hands. Not everyone, mind you, but many many do. (My husband and I have met many people in our service as youth/senior pastors that we have helped with groceries and utilities etc. as ministry of our churches. I am not blowing hot air.)
I am sorry if this sounds harsh or even judgemental, but it is the truth as I have observed it over and over. Even the Scriptures don't condone laziness--just read Proverbs. All through the Bible, those that try to take advantage of others, those who want someone else to pay their way, or who aren't willing to do the work at hand are pretty much told that they can expect lotsa problems, little wealth, and in the New Testament, won't eat.
I am not trying to make light of anyone's difficult financial situation, or pass judgement on them, but I am saying that I wish people would be more willing to ask themselves the hard questions about their money, and willing to do the hard answers. We have done it, and we have seen it work. The road to follow Christ IS the narrow road. It is also bumpy, uphill work at times. Spend less time wringing your hands in "prayer" and more time slashing your lifestyle, so you can meet your bills, have money to give generously, and not give Christ a bad name because of bad reputations in finances!RRRRRRR!!!!!!!!
I feel better, now...

Monday, January 11, 2010

What We Have Done

The rearranging continues. I think the fever has hit both hubby and myself. This morning we woke up itching to clean, straighten, and organize our house.
So far, I have organized our bathroom closet, and weeded out too many bath towels. We had 17 bath towels on those shelves. All of them were bridal shower gifts. I don't want to gross anyone out, but my children get one bath a week (in the winter), and hubby and myself get about two a week. There is no reason on earth to have that many towels in our closet. So I weeded out several whitish ones and put them aside for my brother and his wife. I gave a few to my mom and dad. I still have probably six that I could relocate elsewhere. That helped.
I have also decided to use the dining room closet for toys. I was struggling with what to do with our toys, so I decided I would reorganize that closet, and use it for toy storage. That way, I can shut the door, if it gets bad, and it keeps it out from underfoot.
We have another closet that I tackled half of tonight. It was full of games that we don't really play, but don't want to chuck, because eventually our children will grow into them. But they take up most of one narrow but deep closet off the kitchen. So I suggested to Chara that we get totes and pack them in the attic, leaving out a select few for now. He suggested that I get the bed props when I go out tomorrow to do errands, and shopping, and we could pack them and store them under our bed, after it's been propped a bit higher. So I unloaded all the games, minus a few, and repacked that closet with sleeping bags, blankets, empty canning jars, and some homeschool stuff.
Tomorrow when I am out, I will be picking up props for our bed, and at least two totes, if not three or four.
I still have to figure out where to put the baby's bassinet, as we are still using the crib, and will be for awhile. I have a piano I need to find a home for. And a mother-load of fabric to do something with--along with other sewing notions. The fabric I don't want to pack away too far, because should I need it to make a quilt or something, I don't want to have to go digging in the attic for a jean patch. A small used dresser came to my mind, but that is adding another piece of furniture, not removing it...hmmmm...
Overall I do think the house has felt somewhat tidier for all our effort. The laundry room even got a going over today!! Hooray!
We sorted all of our garden carrots and potatoes, and pulled out the smushy or rotten ones. We finally used (pretty much) our garden carrots. I haven't bought carrots since October. I probably will tomorrow--ugh--I am such a tightwad...We still have about a month's worth of potatoes left. I couldn't figure it out--none were sprouting and only six or eight were bad. YESSSSS!!
Back to the grind. Gotta load of dishes calling my name...

Friday, January 8, 2010

I hab a cold...

I know I haven't posted lately, and tonight, I might have, but alas!! I have a head cold...can't breathe...can't even stay awake...zzzzzzzz.....oh! sorry...
Ya'll hafta wait til I get better before anymore dazzles appear here...
take care!!