Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stop the Pweachahs!

Conversation in the car:

Alice: "Mom, pweachahs are really, really bad."

Me: "Preachers?"

A: "YES! You know, pweachahs? They go out and kill animals?"

M: "Really? Preachers do that?"

A: "YES! They kill animals and then just take their horn or something."

M: "OH! You mean POACHERS, not preachers."

A: "That's what I said. Pweachahs is just a different word for poachers."

M: "Um.... Not really. You're really talking about poachers. A preacher is something very, very different."

A: "Okay. Can I send part of my allowance to stop the poachers? Can you look up where to send it?"

M: "Um... Okay."

A: "Do poachers trap skunks?"

M: "I don't think so - usually they hunt animals that are rare like rhinos or eagles."

A: "Phew! Good, because I love skunks. We should still stop them, though."

A little while later, coming out of the grocery store:

Woman standing by the door soliciting donations: "Donate to help stop child abuse?"

Me: "Not today."

Alice, very innocently: "I'm saving my money to help stop the poachers. Those are the REALLY bad people."

Thank God she didn't say preachers.

So, Alice is indeed saving her money to help stop the poachers. She's putting part of her allowance aside every week and when she's got $10, we'll find someplace to send it. Tim and I introduced the concept of matching funds to her. We told her we'd match whatever she decided to send. This is quite exciting to her. She said that it makes her feel very grown up.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies, Converted

I have a friend who is a true foodie. She enters recipe contests and wins them. She's got a new blog where she is taking on the challenge of feeding her family of 5 on $75 a week.

Today she posted a recipe for these:

Oh. My.

It was good timing because I "needed" to make cookies today. Her recipe was a good candidate for a gluten free makeover, so I tried them.

Oh. My.

There is a reason she does well in recipe contests. These are amazing. Its a good thing I have quartet rehearsal tonight with three guys who like cookies because these are dangerous.

When I look at converting a cookie recipe, there are a few clues as to how easy it is going to be. If I want to be virtually guaranteed of success the first time (i.e. I'm feeling lazy), I look for these characteristics:

1. A cup of flour or less in the recipe. Why? Because if it doesn't have much flour to begin with that means the cookie is not depending so much on gluten for its structure. It also means that its not depending on wheat for taste (think shortbread).

2. Bar cookies are a good bet, because they are contained in a pan with sides. My baking flops tend to be spectacular messes that run off the side of the pan and make the whole house fill with smoke. Most of the time they taste pretty good, they just have no structure. Bar cookies have four solid walls of built in structure.

3. Clues in the recipe that point to good structure. If a recipe instructs me to flatten a cookie with my hand or a fork it is a good sign that most likely it is not a dough that will flatten out on its own (and run all over my oven.).

This particular recipe met two of my three criteria for an easy conversion so I went for it. Actually, I felt so confident about it that I doubled the recipe. As you can see, it worked really well. For the flour I measured by weight and substituted part Pamela's mix and part coconut flour.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sweet Success

My family LOVES pumpkin. They ask for pumpkin pie in July. Last year there was a pumpkin shortage which was a crisis in this house. Last weekend I did my "big shop" where I hit the warehouse store and spend about 1/2 of my monthly grocery / household budget. They had canned pumpkin. The excitement this produced in Alice and Tim was similar to the time when they walked around the store singing a made up song about ham, another passion they share.

We came home with enough canned pumpkin to last an average family 3 or 4 years. My family is not average. I predict that pumpkin will not make it to Thanksgiving.

I made this a few days later:
pumpkin bread with dried cranberries and walnuts

I got three loaves out of the recipe, which I doubled to use the entire 30 oz can of pumpkin. I took one loaf to a friend who thanked me the next day but said, "That was gluten bread, right?"

THAT is the ULTIMATE compliment.

I think my new found success in gluten free baking has to do with the purchase of a digital food scale. You see, a cup of rice flour, a cup of sorghum flour, a cup of Pamela's mix, and a cup of all-purpose wheat flour all have different weights. Substituting cup for cup does not always work out. If you measure by weight you have a much better chance of getting it right the first time.

For reference, a cup of all purpose flour weighs 125 grams, or about 4-3/8 oz.

Pumpkin Bread (single loaf recipe)

250 grams of flour (I used Pamela's Baking Mix and a little bit of almond flour.)
1 tea. baking soda (1/2 tea if using Pamela's)
1 tea. baking powder (1/2 tea if using Pamela's)
1 tea. cinnamon
1/2 tea. salt
1/2 tea. nutmeg
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
1 cup sugar (I always cut the sugar a bit, I probably used about 3/4 cup)
8 Tbs butter, melted (I used half butter, half oil and cut it down a bit)
2 eggs
2 tea. vanilla
1 cup toasted nuts, chopped (opt)
1 cup dried cranberries
If you are using gluten free flours that do NOT include xanthan gum, you will have to add some when you mix the dry ingredients, probably 1 teaspoon.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a different bowl. Combine the two. Add anything optional. Pour into a greased loaf pan, bake at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes until it is done when tested with a toothpick.