19 January 2012

My gluten free all purpose mix & some yum yum yummy cheddar dill biscuits

So I've been asked by more than one person on more than one occasion what "all purpose" gluten free flour I am using these days.  Since embarking on this "gluten-free journey" I'll call it, I've learned SO much about what's out there and available, what's not out there (yet), and how we can adapt our "normal" life to be more gluten free friendly, if you will.  

When I first started gluten free baking, I posted about an all purpose flour mix that I found the recipe for at glutenfreegobsmacked, and celiac.com.  Then, as my reading and researching continued, I learned more about flours, and how to use them to recreate our normal recipes, as close as I could, but using the gluten free substitutes.  The most notable source of my knowledge about how flour works in a recipe would probably have to be the posts that I've read that are part of Shauna's (from a gluten free girl) brain child, the Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  

***The Ratio Rally is a group of gluten free bloggers who have been experimenting with replacing wheat flour with gluten free flours, based on WEIGHT, not volume measures, under the premise that every good recipe is based on a solid ratio that will create a good product, no matter whether you are using wheat flour or not.  Follow the ratio, and your results are almost guaranteed.***

As said by Tara over at "a baking life:"
"Baking by ratio is not an entirely new concept, but it's been spotlighted lately by Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio. It's an enormously helpful way of understanding traditional cooking and baking, but I've noticed some hesitation about applying it to gluten-free baking. Would it even work with all our crazy flours? Would a good gluten-free ratio be adaptable to a variety of flours? Would it make gluten-free baking even more daunting to the uninitiated? 
Yes, yes, and thankfully, no. It really works. And it's easier than you think."

That said, I have yet to try out any of the GFRR recipes.  :O  I know.  Here I am saying how great it is, and I haven't tried the fruits of their labours.  Okay, so I haven't tried the recipes, but the whole WEIGHT thing is a nugget that is stuck in my head - and that is a good thing.  Kate (at gf gobsmacked) also mentioned weighing flours vs. measuring them, in fact, most gf bakers recommend it.  

This is due to the different density in the different grains.  Corn has a different density to millet, to chana, to rice, to the starches.... you get my point.  But when we're baking gluten free, we have to mix these flours, and try to get a flour that will mimic wheat as best we can.

Another thing I've learned, that while brown rice flour is the closest match to wheat in taste (yet still SO far), there are so many other flours that give amazing texture, flavour and NUTRITION to your baked goods.  So combining these flours to create a whole- and multi-grain flour gives great texture and flavour, and beats wheat flour hands down in the nutrition aspect.  (Just don't eat the batters or doughs raw... ummm, grossness.)

I don't use that multi blend mix anymore.  Ha ha.  It's funny but it's not.  This is a learning experience for me, as it is for ANY person taking on the task of learning to bake (and cook) gluten free.  I only used the multi blend mix for a couple of months... before the reading and research convinced me that I should be putting more whole grains in.  For the first couple of times that I made my own mix, it was just a hodgepodge of flours, to make up the 70% flour and 30% starch by weight.  I made it in 1 kg batches, and was using it in place of the multi blend mix. But, because as I said above, more than one person on more than one occasion has asked me for the mix I'm using now, I ACTUALLY wrote it down when I made it last weekend.  :)  Stoked.

Dinnae's all purpose multi-grain flour mix

350g brown rice flour
150g corn flour (NOT corn meal or corn starch)
100g millet flour
100g chana flour
100g tapioca starch
100g cornstarch
100g sweet rice flour
2 TB guar gum

Mix together with a whisk or seive, store in an airtight container.  Use in place of wheat flour in your recipes.

Use as is for cookies, waffles, pancakes, etc.  If making cakes, sweet breads, muffins or cupcakes, add 1/4 tsp of guar gum per cup measure of flour in the recipe.  (This addition of guar is based on the addition of guar to the Multi-blend mix - I'm just continuing that.)  I wouldn't recommend this mix for baking bread, as your ratio of flours to starches is one that needs to be more specific.

And now, my latest gluten free adaptation was a recipe that I got from the lady who actually trained me to cook for treeplanters, Kara.  Her mum was (is?) a camp cook for a summer camp, and I do believe that this recipe for Cheddar Dill Bread was originally hers.  Using the gluten free flour makes this bread very scone-y, so I'm calling them scones.  I made them in muffin-top pans, so they even look kinda like scones too.

Sorry, HORRIBLE photo, but it was taken at night.  And they're still yum!
 Cheddar Cheese Dill Scones

4 c all pupose gluten free flour blend
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 c sugar
4 tsp onion or garlic salt
1 tb dill
1 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 c grated cheddar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/4 c milk
2 tb veggie or canola oil

1/4 c water IF NEEDED

Oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, including cheese.  Mix well.  Add remaining ingredients, stir until just moist.  Batter/dough will be tough, but if needed, add another 1/4 c of water or milk and mix in thoroughly.  Using an ice cream scoop, scoop into greased muffin top pans.  

With wet fingers, "smoosh" down the scoop of batter/dough so that it is fairly flat in the pan, wetting fingers anew before each smoosh. (I keep a small bowl of water next to where I'm working so I don't have to keep the water running, or keep walking over to the sink.)

Bake for 12 - 14 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Best when eaten fresh.  ;)

Makes 40 muffin top scones.  YUM.

*** Notes: this recipe halves really well, and makes the PERFECT size batch to accompany dinner. ***

Now, I know I am going to get this question, because *I* would ask if I were you!  What kind of ice cream scoop do I use?  It is a COMMERCIAL one that I got when my mum owned a cafĂ©.  You should be able to find this same kind, in varying sizes, in any commercial kitchen supply store.  They are INDISPENSABLE for muffins, cookies, etc, keeping your baked goods equal in measure, and uniform in shape too (ie with no bake/boiled cookies).  If memory serves, it was about $10 (give or take) about 15 years ago.  If you find a place to buy one, especially online, let me know!  I'd love to be able to pass the info on.  ;)

The ice cream scoop I use for scooping muffin batter and cookie dough.
I believe it is a 1 oz size.

16 January 2012

Blog Dare Post - Convincing children....

So @TheBlogDare followed me on twitter the other day.  It's a group/initiative put on by @BloggyMoms, and it's a "dare" to do a POST A DAY for the entire year.  Oi.  I struggle to get a post a month in!  LOL.  Don't know that I'll be able to manage EVERY DAY, but I guess I can just participate as the prompts stir a post in me.

Today's prompt was: "I convinced my children to..."

hee hee.  Convincing children?  Herding cats?  Correlation?  YES.  Absolutely. :D

But... funnily enough, this IS something that happened recently.

T and I are both "attachment-minded," natural-ish parents.  That doesn't mean that we are full on, 100% crunchy hippies, but we try to be as engaged as we can as parents, and are trying to change the parenting cycle from how our parents were.  We practice co-sleeping (until they want their own space, which for our kids was fairly early), baby-wearing, breastfeeding, all 3 of our boys are intact, 2 of our 3 kids have had no vaccines (and they're the healthiest out of the 3 too!), 2 of our 3 births were 100% natural (and one at home unassisted!), and we are doing our best to change what was modeled for us both, and spend more time with our kids in a way that is going to foster their development.

I want to interject here and say that most parents in the 70s and 80s, and even 90s did what they knew, and what they were modeled or taught, so not to say that my parents were bad, it's just that they didn't know the amount of info that parents today have at their disposal... can we say "internet?"  Our generation of parents is, in a general way, far more educated about the more effective ways to parent, and raise secure, confident children.  But that doesn't mean we don't love our parents anyway.  ;)

Anyway, right now, we're reading a parenting book called "Positive Discipline for Preschoolers" by Jane Nelson, Cheryl Erwin and Roslyn Ann Duffy.  There is an entire series of books in the Positive Discipline series, and in a nutshell, it's about raising children who are "responsible, respectful and resourceful."  Oh my dog.  What an amazing book.  And what a PARADIGM SHIFT for both of us.  My mum often says to me that she BEGAN to change the cycle of parenting with me and my bro, and it's my job to finish that change.  (She is SO supportive that way!)  One of my biggest battles is how much I yell.  I'm a yeller.  My mum was a yeller.  My grama was a yeller.  And I don't for a second doubt that before she had herself committed, that my great-grandma was a yeller too.  (Yes, that is part of my family history... but that's for another day.)  Frustration is a daily feeling for me.  But I'm working on it, and getting MUUUUUUCH better.  I'm not so much a yeller when dealing with the baby I'll add... somehow it's "easier" to attachment parent a baby than it is a difficult toddler, preschooler, or kindergartener. :P  

But ANYWAY.  Something in the book talked about how, even with babies, if you ask them to help you do something you are empowering them, and they will understand that, and will be more than likely to accommodate you.

Riley is teething right now.  First year molars.  YUCK.  Monday he had a low-grade fever, not enough for drugs, just warm.  By evening though, he was shaking from the fever, had puked up his dinner, and was burning up.  :/  (It was still a low fever though, not hospital-worth.)  I checked to see if it was a tooth, and nothing, so I just assumed tummy bug.  Out came the gravol and ibuprofen so that maybe he could be in less discomfort, poor bubba.  We had a rough night, up every 1.5-2 hours, and the next day, he had these two HUGE bumps on his bottom gums.  AWESOME.  (But at least it wasn't gastro!)

Anyway, when you have a grumpy, sick child, the LAST thing they want is medicine.  The first two days were fighting and messiness and stickiness and YUCK trying to get the medicine into him.  Then on Wednesday, I read the part in the book about asking even babies to "help" and empowering them.  So.... I thought, why not, let's give it a try.

"Riley, honey, can you please help mummy and take your medicine?  Mummy needs your help baby.  Will you help mummy?"

Well, string me up and call me Sally, holy crap it WORKED.  Not kidding.  He's 14 months old.  And he took his ibuprofen NO PROBLEM.

He hasn't had a lot of medicine since then, as I try not to give it to him too often, just when he's seeming really grumpy/in pain, but every time I have, since then, I've asked him to help me, and EVERY time, he has taken it with no fight.

Oh, bless you Jane Nelson et al.  BLESS YOU.

How have you managed to convince your children to do something lately?

02 January 2012

Back at it!

Healthy living-wise, December was a rough month.
The first week was good, but then, Monday of week 2, my "aunt flo" returned after 22 months of absence. (okay, so that stretch ROCKS, but her return was still not welcome.)  First cycle after 22 months of none was HEINOUS.  I felt like I was going to die.  LOL  NOOOOO exercise that week, and holy Moses, I usually NEVER crave chocolate at my time of the month, but this go round?  WOW, NEVER have I eaten that much chocolate in a week. :/
Then, the craziness of the last week of school, and all the stuff going on, the shopping, the INSANITY... The sniffles (everyone had colds again)...
Then the week before Christmas - holy crackers - 3 littlies at home full time again.  WOW.  It'll be awhile before I actually homeschool if I ever do (that was a desire of mine, but out of necessity - my sanity - I don't yet).
Then the week between Christmas and New Year's - I got an infected lip.  Not just a little bump and sore, but I'm talking my upper lip swelled to THREE TIMES it's normal size.  (Happened as a result of some tickling/roughhousing with my boys.)  Went to the walk-in and got 'roids and abx, and finally, as of yesterday, I look normal again.  It's still a bit infected, but I still have 1 more day of 'roids and 6 days of abx, so I should be all clear.
Monday is here, and now YAY! I just did my first workout in weeks.  That felt freeeeeaaaakin' awesome!  And today my healthy eating was good (so far).  I'm excited to see what 2012 has in store for my body and my health! :)
Happy 2012 to all!
。☆ 。☆。☆。
   Happy 2012
。☆ 。☆。☆。