Friday, October 27, 2006

Bread Vairations

I have been playing with my bread machine recipe a bit. It turns out that any deviation I can think of ruins the loaf. Somehow, 2c Jowar to 1.5 c Brown rice flour is the magic ratio.

I have tried some white rice instead of brown, some potato starch, more Jowar with less brown rice, and molasses instead of sugar. Nothing I have tried has led to a loaf even close to the original recipe. Magic, I tell you.

I've been working on job applications a lot the past couple of weeks. When my bread doesn't rise, I have to slice it really thin, and eat it anyway if I want any bread because I've had no time to make things over. I feel bad about not getting Muffins made for Hildegard more often, but not much I can to about that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cresting over my shoulder

My office hour is about to start.  We'll see if anyone comes today, or if I get this post finished today.


We've had a good summer and fall, puke-wise.  The Maestro traditionally goes on a food-strike whenever he gets a cold, because the mucus ends up in his stomach, and anything else that goes in makes him throw up.  I blame Riley's genes for this.  I think that not eating wheat has helped him.  He's only had one cold since the spring, that I remember, and he didn't throw up with it.


Hildr has a cold right now.  Tuesday night, she wouldn't eat any dinner, and just wanted to lay with her head on my shoulder.   About 1:30 in the morning, I was laying in bed, listening to her softly gagging in the other room.  I wasn't worried, because she has always insisted on sleeping on her stomach, much to the horror of pediatricians everywhere.   (Riley is now upset that I have shared this with the world.)  Soon, however, she fully woke up and started to cry.   I didn't think that she would go back to sleep without some soymilk, because she didn't eat any dinner; and low-blood sugar does that to my kids.  Riley blames my genes for this.   So I got up, helped her drain a sippy-cup, and she fell asleep in my arms.


As I was slowly lowering her back into her crib, it happened.  Hack!  Puking down into her bed understandably woke her up, and she was upset.  It was dark, so I didn't know how much had come up, and how much was on her, or anything.   I started down the hall to the bathroom, but only made it into the hallway before round two started.  I stepped back into her bedroom, on the spot just between the hallway carpet and the area rug.   Once I was over linoleum, I just stood there as the waves of sticky soymilk vomit crested over my right shoulder and cascaded down my back and onto the floor.   Once, twice, three times a lady.


It turned out that Hildr was relatively clean, and Riley took her to bed while I cleaned everything up.  This is not among my favorite reasons to need a shower at 1:30 in the morning.


I made it back to bed to find that Hildr had developed Twitchy-leg syndrome, and wouldn't stop kicking me.  This will not do.  I started to take her back to her bed and made it almost to the door when I discovered that her stomach wasn't empty yet.  Oops.   Luckily, the dirty laundry basket was handy and she was pointed mostly away from me. 


I decided that I could sleep better on the couch.
I also haven't been able to do much baking this week.  Good news that my first job application will hopefully go out tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stevia Muffins 2.0

An interesting this happened the other day. I am still working on sugar-free muffins for Hildegard, and ended up with banana bread instead. I’m calling it banana bread, but that suggests a loaf with a texture similar to muffins, with spices, and perhaps walnuts. That is not what I made. What I made was more like bread “rolls” that rose, and split on the top. They had a crust, and a soft inside. They just tasted like banana, with a slight licorice aftertaste.

My initial attempt at sugar free muffins had a texture more like Swiss cheese. I thought that this might be improved with the change to Tapioca starch instead of potato starch and Jowar flour. I was out of soy milk and used the last trace of soy powder early in the recipe, so I added ¼ cup sweet rice flour in an attempt to simulate rice milk. I was also out of vanilla

1 ½ c 2:1 Sorghum flour/Tapioca Starch
¼ c Soy flour
3 tsp Stevia powder
¼ c Tapioca Starch
¼ c Sweet Rice Flour
2 ½ tsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp Xanthan gum
2 eggs
1 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 mashed banana

The interesting thing about this weird banana “bread” is that it has the same texture as wheat bread, and is made yeast free. Can I duplicate the texture without the banana? A Jowar based, yeast-free, bread recipe would be very attractive to some people. I have a few things to work out first. How did the banana affect it? Can I get it into a loaf? A bread machine?

Hildegard didn’t tell me how great the muffins were, though.

Cereal Bars

I found a good review of gluten free cereal bars, courtesy of the celiac chicks. If you are interested in prepackaged snacky goodness, I recommend you check it out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Muffin Mess

I have come to a sad realization about my muffins. They don’t freeze well. Using potato starch means that I need to use less Xanthan gum, otherwise they retain too much moisture and come out mushy.

Reducing the amount of Xanthan gum causes them to fall apart when they are frozen. They still make good mush with sugar and milk on them, but as far as frozen muffins go they are completely unacceptable. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

I can look into some tapioca flour; that worked well in the waffles. I can try some kuzu starch instead of Xanthan gum. I have recently been alerted to some benefits of using some rice flour in with Jowar or Sorghum flour for improving structural integrity. I’ll post an update when I have a (partially) acceptable solution figured out.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pumpkin Fest



On the morning of All Saint's Day (Nov. 1st), 1998, I walked into the kitchen of my single-guy-apartment to see four large carved pumpkins sitting on the table.   They were the result of a Halloween activity the previous night, with a group of friends who had no use for Jack-O-Lanterns in November.  What to do?   Typically, a carved pumpkin at a single-guy-apartment complex will sit until ill-use and old age take their toll.  The alternative is to toss the pumpkin in a dumpster before any tolls are taken.   To do either seemed wasteful, especially considering the gargantuan proportions of these magnificent gourds.  The beginnings of an idea started to collect, slowly taking shape in the un-swept corners of my just-out-of-bed brain.   Could I do something with these pumpkins that no single guy had ever done?  Could I find some way of using these pumpkins of which no bachelor had ever dreamed?   Could I… eat them?


By mid-afternoon, I'd made a pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, and a couple of pies (my first pies, with commercial crust).   I asked my new girlfriend, Riley, to help me host, then invited some friends.  I enjoyed all the food, which is fortunate, because I spent the next week eating pumpkin.   As it turns out, when you do something that no bachelor has ever done, no one really believes the food will be edible, and they all eat before they come.  So, the first ever Pumpkin-Fest was born, with minimal fanfare.


Many things have changed over the years.  Perhaps the most important is that people are now expected to come hungry.   Another change is the ban on commercial pumpkin-pie, instituted after our third year.  People were initially asked to come and bring a pumpkin dish, and we ended up with more store-bought pies than anyone enjoyed.   We now ask that people come.  If you would enjoy bringing a pumpkin dish, we are excited to enjoy it with you.   Over the years we have had pumpkin games, T-shirts, soups, breads, fudge, etc.  Beginning with the fourth annual Pumpkin-Fest, we have enjoyed celebrating in the Midwest, where harvest season is more real than imagined.


We are a mixed household.  Canadian Thanksgiving occurs the second Monday in October, and is traditionally marked in the United States by the lack of mail delivery.  American Thanksgiving is the end of November, and is not noticeable in Canada, because harvest season ended months before.   Pumpkin-Fest falls at the midpoint of these two and is our own unique holiday.  It was born out of appreciation for the bounty of both harvest season and left-over Jack-O-Lantern season.     It is a celebration of friendship and all that it means to us. 


This year is our first Gluten- and Casein-free Pumpkin Fest.  As many of you who are familiar with GF cooking know, there are many recipes using Pumpkin that are naturally Gluten-Free.   Pumpkin Pie, if we served it, would have to be modified, and the pumpkin breads and cakes will be different this year.  Most of the soups and stews that have formed the main-stays of the Main-dish portion of the meal can be served without significant modification.   Really, the issue this year will be desert.


            I suppose you would call this a meme.  I'm pretty new to the food blog world, so you all should consider yourself tagged to participate.   What is your favourite GF pumpkin dessert?  I am especially interested in "Something In Season" contributing, as this seems something totally in your bailiwick, and " Wheatless Bay", as a fellow displaced Canadian.  I am happy to have a link to something old, from your archives, if you have archives.  I would prefer recipes that don't call for mixes, as I am a poor student, with no money for the finer mixes in life.   I work mainly with Jowar, but am more than willing to use more traditional flours for this special occasion.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Splenda is no Honey

I have been updating my computer so that a reference program I need will work with the new version. (Endnote. If you have to write a big paper, it's indispensible) While waiting, I started scanning Chemistry blogs, and found this post, about splenda. It's worth looking at if you think splenda is a good idea. It isn't a good idea, in case you wondered.

Two Notes

I’m cleaning my desk and came across a paper with some notes on it. I need to post this so I don’t lose it again. If blogger has it, I know where I can find it again.

From the Gluten-Free Goddess , Karina writes that simulating a baking mix, she uses:
2 cups of flour
1 scant tsp baking powder
½ scant tsp baking soda
¼ scant tsp xanthan gum

From Glutan-a-Go-Go, Sheltie Girl uses Kuzu starch instead of xanthan gum.
1 ½ tsp in 1 Tbsp water for a cookie recipe
1 tsp in melted butter in sweet potato bread.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I have felt like I had a handle on a number of baked goods. I routinely make muffins and waffles. I successfully did a read-off conversion of brownies. I don't feel like I have a good handle on bread. I have never pretended that I do. Most loaves I have made have turned out flat. I usually make "rolls" in muffin tins, and they work well. I think it has something to do the surface area to side support ratio or muffins compared to loaves.

I have made a good loaf using Bette Hagmann's four bean flour. The shape turned out, but it tasted like beans. I don't like my bread to taste like beans. I want something that tastes like Jowar.

Riley came home from a friend's house the other day with a bread machine. I wasn't terribly excited, because if I don't feel like I can make regular loaves, how do I adapt a muffin to the bread machine? Blah. Riley pointed out that I had a recipe for bread machine that I had forgotten about.

Bread Machine Bread Recipe
- By Jill Miller

2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer mixed with 2 T water
1 2/3 cup water
3 T oil
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 tsp vinegar
2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry milk powder
3 T sugar

Combine egg replacer and eggs. Mix water with vinegar and oil. Sift all dry ingredients together. Put all liquids in bread machine. Set machine on short cycle, start and mix in dry ingredients. Bake. Cool prior to slicing.

I don't have any egg replacer, so I left that out, and I didn't use any dry milk powder. The dough was a lot thicker than the rolls I usually make. I think that helps retain the gases. The loaf pan has a similar surface area to side support ratio to a muffin. I think that those two together made the difference because it turned out absolutely great. The Maestro loved it, because he has missed having slices of bread that you can toast. The texture was wonderful, it rose, and it tasted like Jowar instead of beans. Perfect

I wondered what effect the brown rice flour has, because as you know, I typically use Jowar with a variety of starches. I made a loaf of bread with one cup rice flour with a half cup potato starch. It didn't rise as high, so I think that the rice flour is key, somehow.

PS. Yes, that is a Miracle Blade III All-Purpose Slicer. Thanks, Chef Tony!