Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Needless to say, I have been getting a workout shoveling snow. Today I have already been out shoveling twice, and it is not even 1pm. I'd have to bet I'll be out there shoveling a couple more times before the day is over. I do own a snowblower, though I rarely use it. For one, I don't like wasting gasoline or contributing to pollution just to save a bit of time shoveling, and I also don't mind getting a little bit of forced-exercise. Now, if this was heavy, wet snow, I'd give in and get out the machine -- I'm not trying to kill myself shoveling! But, so far, the snow has been the lighter weight fluffy type.
I haven't really done much baking the past couple days either, though Laura has experimented with another batch of gluten-free breadsticks. This time, she created a batch and put them in the freezer to see if we can come up with a way to mass-produce them without worrying about them going bad before I can eat them all. We'll probably take a batch out of the freezer to test-bake later today or perhaps tomorrow. I can't wait! These breadsticks and baguettes have been excellent, and if I can have them anytime I want just by pulling a few out of the freezer, thawing them, and then baking them, that'd be wonderful compared to making a batch and not being able to eat them all before they go stale.
Next, we've both been busy with a jewelry-making class. Our (college) alma mater has a series of metal jewelry design classes, so we signed up for an alumni-audit program (very affordable way to take such classes). In addition to being affordable, we have a very talented instructor - Dave. Dave and his wife (she is quite a jeweler too) have created multiple anniversary-gift pieces for Robin Williams and his wife, and has been commissioned to create custom jewelry for Ben of "Ben and Jerry's". They have exhibited at the Smithsonian as well (they are this year too). I'm rather impressed to say the least. It's amazing how a little college like Baldwin Wallace College in Berea Ohio has this level of talent on staff! (on a barely-related side-note, a recent BWC graduate named Kate is a finalist right now on the "Grease - You're the One That I Want" TV reality show.)
It's been an interesting class thus far, and we've learned proper technique for sawing out very fine pieces from sheets of copper, brass, and silver, and then how to use an acetylene torch to anneal the metal and silver-solder pieces together. I'll post some pictures soon showing our beginning pieces. I'm pleased with our progress, and I was amazed how wonderful Laura's second piece came out -- she created a leaf-pendant that has wonderful shape, color, and texture. She really seems to have a talent for this.
I've always wanted to know how to create metal jewelry, and I'm definitely enjoying the creative processes involved. I do find my eyes getting a bit tired after a few hours of focusing on tiny pieces of metal that I am working with though. That's probably the biggest challenge. When we were soldering these "jump rings" (the loops you put on a pendant through which a necklace will be threaded) closed, I can hardly even see the tiny gap in the loop that I am soldering. I think it's time to go get some of those magnifying-eyeglasses or a jeweler's loupe!
Sorry I haven't had much celiac / gluten-free specific discussion to offer today. I'm finding myself a bit distracted by other things, but I think a bit of a break from the norm is a good thing once and a while. I'll be reporting the outcome of those gluten-free breadsticks once they emerge from the freezer and are baked - probably just a day or two from now.
Friday, January 26, 2007
This is a picture of Laura's newest recipe, one that yields lightly-herbed Gluten-Free Baguettes, Mini-Baguettes, Breadsticks, and/or French-Bread with a fantastic texture and taste. The recipe is highly adaptable, and can form any of a few varieties of bread just by altering the size and shape of each loaf or stick (even down to tiny little crispy breadsticks the size of straws; we also plan to try making both soft and crispy pretzels with a variation of this GF recipe).
I promised to get this new gluten-free baguette recipe published this week, and I definitely dragged my feet a bit, waiting until today - Friday! If anyone was waiting anxiously for it, I apologize for being distracted. I actually had the recipe online yesterday over at the book site, but only today wrote a corresponding blog entry.
I was caught up in the launch event for Microsoft Office 2007 here in Cleveland on Wednesday, and have been busy working with the latest MS Excel features and such ever since. If anyone reading is interested, I published my Microsoft Office 2007 Review here on my investing/technology blog. It seems like nearly everyone uses Microsoft office these days, so who knows, perhaps even the gluten-free readers will enjoy the review :)
If that wasn't enough, I also became consumed with finishing reading the January 2007 special issue of American Psychologist dealing with Leadership. I found it rather interesting, and also pulled this following quote from page 37 inside a segment called "A Systems Model of Leadership" by Robert J. Sternberg of Tufts University - discussing the concept of "Practical Intelligence":
Practical intelligence is the set of skills and dispositions used to solve
everyday problems by applying knowledge gained from experience to purposefully adapt to, shape, and select environments. It thus involves changing oneself to suit the environment (adaptation), changing the environment to suite oneself (shaping), or finding a new environment within which to work (selection).
This got me thinking about how the average gluten-free person is so directly implicated in this paragraph. We all go through at least one of these changes - adaptation - when we first learn that we can no longer consume gluten after being diagnosed as Celiac or discovering we are otherwise wheat or gluten intolerant. We have no choice (aside from causing our bodies harm) - we must adapt to our new glutenfree environment.
Next, quite a few of us have moved through the subsequent phase - shaping - as we shape our environment to better accommodate our condition. My personal approach to shaping was to tackle one of the first perceived obstacles to remaining gluten-free; that was, the lack of great tasting gluten-free foods from which to choose, and on which I could rely, to satisfy me and help me remain gluten-free for life. In particular, I needed some great desserts to lean on through my period of adaptation, and with the help of my wife and daughter, I achieved that goal and ultimately published a gluten-free cookbook to help others facing the same situation. I have shaped the gluten-free environment for the better, as have many others within the gluten-free community.
Finally, this leads to enabling selection and finding new environments within which to work. By definition, the only environments all of us gluten-free and coeliac types can live within are ones without gluten. But, this does not imply we must select environments that are lacking in fulfillment, flavor, and overall enjoyment. Sure, we have complications to consider, but who doesn't sooner or later in life? Many of our issues can be addressed through dietary concerns and related lifestyle changes. There are ups and downs along the way, but we generally have the ability to choose to lead rather normal lives.
We have all been forced to work on our practical intelligence skills in order to solve the everyday problems of Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerance. We apply apply our knowledge and experience to purposefully adapt to, shape, and select our environment. Given that "practical intelligence" is one of the criteria posited as essential for leadership, perhaps our gluten-free experience has given us all a dose of valuable leadership skills exercise.
I'm not sure if that argument will hold any weight if used to argue for a promotion at work, but one way or the other, you have faced, and worked through, the steps required to develop this quality of practical intelligence that is considered a valuable trait when it comes to leadership assessment.
Well, that's enough for the gluten-free blog today, and it should give you something to think about while you're baking our newest gluten-free bread recipe this blog posting started out with. Enjoy!
Monday, January 22, 2007
The event was interesting. Interesting in that the event really furthered my views of why so many people are absolutely confused about Celiac and GF diets, and Celiac Disease as a whole. It would seem that such an event (a monthly GF familiarization tour) would be a good thing for newly diagnosed persons, especially given how much seemingly contradictory information there is published about CD and gluten-free diets. But, after attending this week, I have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of this tour for a multitude of reasons.
I'll get back to my recap and reasoning in a bit. But, let me start near the end of the gluten-free tour-day, since that is what I have the best memories of...
We, of course, went shopping in the store once the GF tour was finished, and stocked up on a few items we regularly use. One necessity around our house is the Kitchen Basics Vegetable Stock, which is gluten-free and an excellent stock for homemade soups or a flavorful alternative to cooking with water when making rice or quinoa - the sodium levels are reasonable too. Another product I like is the Pocono Cream of Buckwheat, which I have not easily found other than by mail-order; so, I grabbed a few boxes of that as well.
And, the Mustard Seed Market had some various gluten-free products out for tasting and sampling. This was certainly a worthwhile investment for them, since one of the products they featured was the Glutino Gluten Free Pretzels. These pretzels are awesome! I had a few of the GF newbies try them out and tell me what they thought, since some of these people have eaten the real thing quite recently (I wanted to make sure my memories of a "real" pretzel were accurate), and they all agreed the pretzels were indistinguishable from wheat-based ones. Lucky for me, Glutino has a "family pack" size (14.1 ounces) available, which was on sale for $4.99. A couple of bags of those made their way into my shopping cart. Sure, they cost more than normal pretzels, but with this larger size bag, they are not astronomically priced - so, that's an improvement.
They also stocked an Applegate Farms brand of deli meats that was certified GF in addition to being organic and free of any hormones or nitrites and all the other less than desirable ingredients many such meats contain. It was so nice being able to finally pick out a couple lunchmeats without worrying about whether or not they were gluten-free. As soon as I returned home, I made a sandwich of smoked turkey (using Laura's French Baguettes from the prior day) . Wonderful! I have not had a good deli-type sandwich in ages.
So, enough of the gluten-free product reviews. Let me get back to reviewing the newbie tour...
Scene I - Attendance:
The day started with everyone meeting in a nice office room upstairs in the store. Half the attendees (that showed) showed up late, and out of the group that registered for the even, less than half even made it at all. As the event-leader said, with "free" events like this, people feel less obligated to follow through than if they had paid for it. Sad. But, true. This makes planning nearly impossible of course. But, the show went on with a smaller crowd then anticipated.
We went around the room and introduced ourselves and told a quick story of why we were there. This is where things start getting interesting. Out of the group of nine people (two of which were my wife and I, and one was the tour-leader), only one newbie was a diagnosed Celiac. One man was quite sure he had some issues with wheat and other gluten-containing grains, but had yet to try remaining wheat-free or gluten-free for even a couple weeks (that was the plan though). Another lady was allergic to everything basically (she thinks) - gluten, celery, milk, nuts, eggs, molds, and more. Another was a vegan, and since he showed up late, I'm not sure what exactly his story is. Two were spouses or friends along for moral support.
So, the group of "GF Newbies" was not exactly a homogenous group to say the least. With only one among them knowing for sure they had to be on a gluten-free diet, it was not quite what I expected. But, they were all interested in giving gluten-free eating a try for various reasons.
Scene II- The Gluten Conspiracy Unveiled:
So, the tour-leader passed out some photocopied material (or printouts from web-sites) from various sources, and began to review that information. I was fine with this until the leader's personal paranoia about a rampant corporate conspiracy to push gluten (on the population as a whole) was introduced.
Yes, that is right -- you heard it hear first (unless you were at the meeting): corporate America is pushing wheat, barley, rye and all the gluten-containing products on us (the entire population mind you) even though they know that gluten is bad for us all (whether Celiac or otherwise), because it is in their best interest for profits, and "it would kill the economy if they switched products to be gluten free". That was it -- I couldn't take this ridiculous spew much longer! (though, I held my tongue).
And, she went on to say how a select group of enlightened persons (herself included) know how a full one-third of the population is gluten-intolerant!! Wow! I guess all these studies to the contrary (scientific studies at that - placing the number at 1:133), must all be wrong! Give me a break! This is not the type of information that gluten-free newbies need to hear in my opinion. I don't know what the personal agenda behind this diatribe was (though I suspect it has to do with the person's occupation as a PA at a place that deals with allergies and more), but it was getting a bit ridiculous. And, it didn't end here.
We were being told all about the evils of gluten, and how it is the cause of all sorts of things like Autism, Alzheimer's, MS, Parkinson's, Migraines, Fibromyalgia, and a few others. The leader's opinions about how gluten-exposure was causing all these issues, especially the late-life issues like Alzheimer's, was question by someone in the group that mentioned there are even gene-tests that exist for correlating the potential for Alzheimers - at which point we heard about how genes can be modified throughout one's life. I'm sorry, but I have a rather solid grounding in science, and this was all definitely pseudo-science at best. But wait, there's more!
Someone asked about why, if gluten is so terrible, some people don't develop Celiac or gluten-intolerance until later in life - 30's, 40's, 50s. The answer involved suggesting that these late-life-affected persons had always had a problem, and if you looked back into their earlier years you will find these same people had learning disabilities, autism, and/or other issues. Once again, give me a break! This gluten-conspiracy had reached a peak. And, out of all the persons I know with Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance, I have yet to meet any of these later-year diagnosed ones (myself included) that ever had learning disabilities or issues when young. In fact, many I know are, and always have been, above-average performers all through their educational and/or professional careers.
So, needless to say, although I was trying to listen to this presentation, I couldn't help wondering what was next, and moreover, what value this was to anyone. At least the handouts had some good information - like, which grains and ingredients are safe and which are not, what symptoms are associated with Coeliac Disease, and a list of products in the store that are GF. But, this constant interjection of pseudo-science was out of control. And, just as I can no longer take it, Thank god... it's time for the actual store-tour.
Scene III - The Gluten-Free Store Tour:
We finally make it down to the store floor, and begin our winding back and forth through the aisles looking at labels and seeing examples of what is safe and what is not. This sounds straightforward enough, but enter the inconsistencies and personal opinions of the tour-leader, and the value of the tour degrades quickly.
Early on, we are shown the lovely GF meats (which I later purchased). Simple. They are all clearly labeled GF. Next, to the alcohol section, where there were 3 beer choices: New Grist, Bard's Tale, and Yinpu Black Rice Beer. She tells everyone that New Grist and Bard's are fine, and that although we can't quite be sure of whether the Yinpu is created in a dedicated gluten-free facility, that it is fine too.
I ask "how about A-B Redbridge?" The answer is conflict #1. I am told that, although this store doesn't carry it, their other store location does. But, she would not endorse it as gluten-free. Why, I ask?... Because she feels it is most likely that A-B is not producing it in a dedicated facility. And, how does that differ from YinPu (which she is OK with), I ask?... Because A-B is a big-corporation and all. So, here enters more of that unsubstantiated opinion that has nothing to do with offering proper and consistent advice to gluten-free consumers. Lovely! (not!)
We move on to the bakery section, where some stored-baked gluten-free dessert items are out for taste sampling, along with some samples of packaged gluten-free products from Pamela's and others. The labels for each product are clipped to each sample plate. I clearly see the "this product has been made in a facility shared with wheat and gluten-containing items" (paraphrased, but you know the warnings) on the items baked within the store itself - including a lemon layer cake. I watch as the group-leader immediately consumes both the packaged products and the store-baked "shared facilities" ones. Needless to say, I'm thinking back a mere two minutes to the comments about how A-B has the (suspected) heinous shared-facility for producing RedBridge Beer. Am I surprised by her actions -- absolutely not! In fact, it fits perfectly.
The tour continued down frozen foods aisle, at which point someone asked why the bagels and a few other items were refrigerated. Her answer was that, being gluten-free, they "would quickly turn into science experiments" otherwise. Wow! I didn't know that was unique to GF products! It's amazing what pseudo-science I'm learning today.
A GF Oats discussion arose when we were near the oats products, and though the store does not sell any certified gluten-free oats, she was pushing McCann,s Irish Oats as a solution if they were going to eat oats, claiming they tested so much safer than others - especially those mass-produced Quaker ones. I tried to tell her how this was not necessarily accurate, since the levels vary considerably based on samples. Here's an excerpt from an article whose basis is the New England Journal of Medicine publication on a study about Gluten Contamination of Commercial Oat Products:
"On the basis of the mean gluten level in the two extractions, 3 of the 12 oat samples contained gluten levels of less than 20 ppm. The other nine samples had gluten levels that ranged from 23 to 1807 ppm. All three brands of oats had gluten levels above 20 ppm in at least two of the four samples tested. Ranges according to brand were as follows: McCann's, below the limit of detection to 725 ppm; Country Choice, below the limit of detection to 210 ppm; and Quaker, 338 to 1807 ppm."You can see how, depending on the luck of the draw, you could get a Quaker Oats sample that had 338ppm and a McCann's of 725ppm. If anything, in this particular test, Country Choice was the best average level of contamination - but I have seen other studies where they were much higher than even Quaker. Fact is, if you are Celiac, avoid oats unless you buy certified-GF ones. Back to the tour now...
We continue through all sorts of products. Basically, the food-selection advice could have been summarized as: look for the words "gluten-free" on the label. Over and over that was the advice. Then came the Blue Diamond almond-thin products which she quickly recommended, and pointed out how the box says something about being recognized by the Celiac Association or such. But, I pick up the box and the label clearly says "made in a shared facility that processes wheat,...". Once again, time for some contradictory opinion. In this case, I am told that it is OK. (note: I do eat the Blue-Diamond products - their web site claims they are gluten-free)
Scene IV - Finale:
Well, actually I began with the finale :)
But, at the end of this tour, I had a few of the tour attendees discuss their tour experience with me, and whether what they heard was really accurate and what my own experiences with Celiac and living gluten-free were. Fact is, as I suspected, these folks were utterly confused.
The tour-guide never broached the subject of how many foods are gluten-free even though the labeling didn't explicitly say. Sure, it's easier if labeling says "gluten-free". But, there are tons of products that are still safe even though they do have such obvious labeling. I told people about the online gluten-statements from various manufacturers, and how many of these "safe foods lists" are available on glutenfree / celiac forums.
The event also didn't breed any allegiance to the Mustard Seed Market from what I could tell, especially when a couple talked about how much they like Whole Foods Market (strange, since the nearest one is a 2-hour drive away). This tells me the tour surely didn't sell people on why to shop at this store instead of going elsewhere. I did take time to let people know that the gluten-free selection at the Mustard Seed is actually rather good - I can find most things I need to bake with and eat there.
So, that is behind us. We did take some gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes with us, and handed them out to those in the group that could safely eat them (since they had Walnuts in them, at least one person was excluded). Those were a hit! And, I think it convinced at least one person considering a gluten-free lifestyle that there really was hope for great tasting GF foods. We were also able to point out some really great GF products the store carries, hopefully ensuring people's first gluten-free eating experiences were good ones.
I do not think I will be attending any future monthly events, especially not with the current tour-guide. I can not support the constant unsubstantiated information and opinions she was spouting, and I fear that if I was to attend again, I would not let many of these statements pass without directly challenging her. And, in respecting current and future gluten-free newbies, I'll not attend, since arguing points I've mentioned would just to add to the confusion of the situation for these inexperienced glutenfree prospects.
I sure hope everyone newly introduced to Celiac and Gluten-free living eventually finds accurate and factual information that is not tainted with personal opinion and gluten-conspiracy theories. I'd suggest attending a regional Celiac Conference with well-known and well-respected authorities in the field as a great way to separate fact from fiction and opinions. That is not what this event offered.
Friday, January 19, 2007
The person giving the this month's tour tomorrow morning asked my wife and I if we'd stop out and meet the newest members of the celiac community, and provide some insight into glutenfree baking. Of course, we were delighted to accept the invitation. Although we are planning a more formal event there in the next couple months to demonstrate some of our gluten-free dessert recipes in action (by baking a few samples up and showing along with our book), this monthly event is certainly a good way to gain insight into what others faced with this condition have gone through, and what they see as challenges moving forward.
Hopefully we'll be able to help people understand that they can lead a very normal life even without gluten. My wife did bake up some lemon cookies for the attendees (I had to resist eating all of them today. he he he) to give them a little taste of what is possible when baking without wheat - that is, anything is possible! We'll be sure to help them find the various ingredients in the store required to bake their own breads, pizza crusts, cookies, cakes, and so on. Of course, I can point them to this blog for a source of recipes now and in the future while I am at it. If I get inspired yet tonight, maybe I'll print off a few recipes to hand out too.
I'm not sure how many other stores around the country have such an introductory program for the newly diagnosed Celiac Disease patients, but it is a nice way to help anyone that is sorta "shocked" into this new eating and baking lifestyle. I expect attendees to also be able to form some bonds with persons in a like situation, and this makes it easy to meet those that may otherwise never be known to you.
So, here's hoping the snow stays away in the morning so that everyone can make it to the event. Depending on the level of attendance and interaction, we'll probably start attending each month. And, with a bit of planning, we should have time to bake up some samples of different desserts and other recipes each time too. Certainly beats sitting around wondering what to do on a Saturday morning - especially in the winter time.
Speaking of Winter, we had a fair dose of it today. I got my exercise shoveling. I don't mind actually, since it beats riding the exercise bike in the basement. I let an inch or two of snow build up, and then go out and shovel the whole driveway. Let it snow more, and repeat. I figure I'm getting some fresh air, burning off some calories (those cookies I just had to sample), enjoying the outdoors (and staying warm from calorie-burning), and letting my brain relax between more mentally challenging tasks. Keeping the shoveling to an inch or two of snow at a time also keeps the workout rather low impact, and a bit more aerobic as I keep the pace up. It's gotta be a bit easier on the body then straining to lift heavy piles of snow at once too.
So, time to wrap this blogging up for the night, get some sleep, and be ready to meet all the gluten-free newcomers in the morning.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
We finally have snow here in Cleveland, Ohio, and the scenery is wonderful right now. Though hard to tell in this small picture, it was snowing while the sun was out. We have the regional lake-effect snow bands around here, and the sky can change from sun to snow nearly instantly as the winds over Lake Erie shift. I snapped this picture of my neighbor's back yard barn with the afternoon sun over it right as a new band of snow settled in on us. Had I waited another few minutes, it would have been a near white-out, though about the same time the local white-tailed deer herd came out to frolic and chase one another around the yards as they like to do (especially the younger members of the group). Ah, yes, winter has finally arrived - a bit late, but as I remember it.
One nice thing about the cooler temperatures and inclement weather is how it basically forces us to stay indoors more, which leads to us spending more time in the kitchen trying out some new gluten-free recipe creations. And, I have a feeling many persons will be thankful for this snowstorm once they get hold of Laura's latest creation: a gluten-free herbed French Baguette that is nothing short of amazing!
She formed this recipe into a batch of 9 mini-baguettes to make sure they came out as desired before forming some full-sized loafs. And, oh did they turn out great! Excellent crunchy crust coupled with a soft and spongy center, with perfect flavor and texture to match. The mild scent of herbs was wafting upward from the loaves through the slightest bit of steam emitted as they cooled. I couldn't take it... my patience was tested, and I don't think I passed the test. :)
I consumed about half of the loaves the recipe made. I ate the first ones while they were still warm - though, I did wait long enough they didn't burn my tongue. I of course then had to try the cool ones to make sure they were fine too. And, just to be sure, I decided to also slice up one of the loafs and make some broiled garlic bread - which, just had to be consumed immediately to make sure it didn't go to waste. It's times like this I don't mind being an official taste-tester! Bring on the great bread - I can eat quite a bit of it.
I'll be posting the recipe soon. We tried to accommodate as many people as possible by making it dairy-free as well as glutenfree. Celiac-safe baguettes are only a few days away, and I will have the recipe online in time for the next weekly recipe roundup.
Which brings me to the next topic: that weekly recipe roundup. If you do not already know this,
Gluten-Free-Bay (blog) features a semi-weekly gluten-free recipe roundup. This week's GF recipe roundup featured our gluten-free traditional thick-crust pizza crust recipe Laura created (including a picture of it). I like this recipe roundup that GF-Bay does, since it gives people a nice place to get a quick summary of what is going on in the gluten-free baking community.
Have fun baking those wonderful gluten-free recipes that we, and others, have placed online. And, get ready for Laura's incredible French Baguettes recipe that I will post within the next week.
Monday, January 15, 2007
On this particular trip, we made it into Sugarcreek, Ohio and stopped by a place called Swiss Village Bulk Foods (at 309 S. Broadway, Sugarcreek, OH). Much to my surprise - especially for a store in a town of less than 2200 people, this business had an incredible amount of gluten free baking products and ingredients. They had the most diverse display of Bob's Red Mill products I had ever seen in one place, with flours like teff, rice, brown rice, sorghum, and so on (the ONLY noticeably absent one was Sweet Rice Flour, aka glutinous rice flour - which I use regularly). I picked up some of the Mary's Gone Crackers that I like (and, there are a perfect complement to the various cheeses I had earlier acquired at Heini's Cheese Chalet in Bunker Hill, OH - a favorite being the Bermuda Onion cheese, or the Smoked Hot Pepper cheese (wonderful on homemade nachos, tortillas, or even crackers of course).
The thing that struck me as most surprising with this glutenfree encounter, was of course the setting. Who would have thought that in such a small town, a little bulk foods store would have a rather substantial selection of gluten free baking ingredients and such? Certainly not me. I'm always excited and glad to see gluten free diets get more attention, and it seems that awareness is spreading throughout the population. Our next stop after the bulk foods store was another Amish-themed shop in the area, and even there I ran into some pre-packaged gluten-free pancake mixes and more of the Bob's Red Mill products. So, it was more than just a freak encounter at the first place.
On the way back, I stopped at a Super-Walmart in Wooster, OH, since I heard they may have the new Anheuser Busch gluten-free Sorghum Beer called Redbridge. Sure enough, they did! So, I picked up a 6-pack for a taste test. ($7.99 / six-pack of 12-ounce bottles -- nearly 1/3 less than Bard's Tale) Though I plan to post more about the product, the quick bottom-line is this: excellent! I really enjoyed the beer, and although it is a bit sweeter than some beers I used to like, I really think it is quite like a "real" beer!
It rained for the entire trip on Saturday, and has been raining ever since. In fact, this weather is nothing short of strange for Cleveland in January. We have daffodils emerging from the ground (some are nearing 6" tall already), as well as grape hyacyinth and crocuses. Our lawns are green, and it is anything but a typical mid-winter month here.
The ice storm that pounded the Midwest just missed us to the North and West it seems, so instead we are getting our precipitation as rain (and many a yard look like shallow ponds now). I'm thankful the ice missed us, since it can be utterly devastating to the trees -- we went through that a couple Springtimes ago here. According to the forecasts, our bizarre warm January is to finally switch gears and enter a deep freeze this week, which is probably a good thing overall even though I don't care much for the cold. I've been waiting for some cold weather to do a bit more baking and working on some other gluten free recipes I keep promising to get to. My wait seems about to end.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipes
Traditional Thick-Crust PizzaOne of the all time most-missed foods for Celiacs and persons that must adhere to a gluten-free diet is pizza. I know that I personally suffered withdrawal symptoms and anxiety when I was told I would not be able to eat my favorite Chicago deep-dish pizza, or my favorite Denver thick-crust pizza from Beau Jo's, or even my local favorite Donte's Pizza here in Cleveland, Ohio. Pizza was a large part of my life back in the pre-Celiac and pre-gluten-free days, and I have longed for a wonderful replacement that fits into the GF diet.
I have tried a few different purchased glutenfree pizza crusts and pizza dough mixes over the years, and none really made me think I was eating real pizza. My wife has worked on various pizza-crust replacements, and came up with some decent ones that used a batter approach for quick and easy iron-skillet pizza crusts, and more of a dough-type thin-crust sheet-pizza type recipe. These were fine, but admittedly not nearly the same as the "real" thing.
The new Yeast-Raised Gluten-Free Pizza-Crust Dough RecipeEnter the latest pizza crust from Laura: a traditional yeast-raised gluten-free and dairy-free pizza dough recipe that produces a wonderfully convincing pizza crust that has excellent taste and texture, including a nice crusty crust with a soft bread-like interior. It holds together wonderfully, just as a pizza crust should. Some of its wonderful flavor comes from Teff and Millet flours, along with rice flour.
I can not do this recipe justice with just words, so check out the pictures here and on the dairyfree and glutenfree traditional thick-crust pizza recipe page, and then make it for yourself. Being a yeast-based GF pizza crust, you will need to be patient and allow the crust to rise, and ideally you will have a candy-thermometer or similar device handy to get the warm-water temperature right for best yeast-development results.
And a Homemade Gluten-Free Pizza Sauce RecipeLaura also included her homemade gluten-free pizza sauce recipe on our website in case you need or want one. It's really simple to make, and has a good flavor on pizzas.
Normally, my wife and daughter give in and order their pizzas from a nearby pizza shop instead of sticking to a gluten-free diet with me (thankfully, they do not need to adhere to a Celiac or GF diet as I do), but this pizza crust recipe is close enough to the real thing that my daughter will actually accept it as "pizza". And, that is saying a lot! I too can accept it as pizza. It is not as good as my old favorites from Chicago and other places, but it has reached a level of desirable taste and texture where I can actually be satisfied that my pizza dinner satisfies my craving for a pizza.
Comparing this Gluten-Free Pizza-Crust to "Normal" PizzaI give it a 7 out of 10 rating, compared to the 10/10 rating my all-time real pizza crusts would get - so, this "7" is a very strong rating considering it is a gluten free pizza crust. This is by far the best gluten-free pizza crust I have ever had, and if Laura ever creates a 9/10+ rated crust, she will have accomplished the "impossible" in my opinion. In fact, I already tell her she's more or less done it with this one. Who knows, maybe she will find a way to tweak this thing up to an 8/10 yet (I want to try making a Chicago deep-dish with it yet and see if that does the trick, though I need a deep-dish pizza pan to try it in).
Here's a picture of the interior of the crust, showing how nicely it raised and how the bottom and outside exposed dough browned and crusted nicely, while the inside rose well to deliver a thick-crust / traditional style pizza. Hope you enjoy the Recipe!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
These waffles are definitely a favorite breakfast recipe of mine. There will be no more boxed waffles for me now that I have a far superior glutenfreee buckwheat variety available fresh from scratch. And, my wife created these wonderful treats for part of my Christmas gift!
These waffles make use of buckwheat and teff, but yet remain a wonderfully light and fluffy waffle with the perfect flavor combination from Blueberries, grains, and a hint of Cinnamon. With your own waffle iron, you will soon find you are not missing out on anything when it comes to your waffles. Here's a link to the Blueberry Buckwheat Teff Gluten-Free Waffles Recipe.
I have not been making the daily gluten free blog posts recently, as I have been rather busy lining up book sales avenues for us. This week we added Celiac.com (aka glutenfreemall.com) as a new retailer that should have our books in stock within the next couple weeks (I just shipped them a batch this morning, and was told it will take 7-14 days for them to make the journey). We are certainly happy to have them offering our book soon, since they have national coverage and a good presence on the web.
And, they can also supply the Sweet Rice and some other flours/ingredients for the gluten free baking at the same time, by mail order. I actually considered selling ingredients with my books at one time, but I am not quite ready to go into the GF baking supplies business - I don't want to stock all that stuff per se, and the only reason I would do it is to make glutenfree baking as simple as possible for someone to get started with. Who knows, I may work out some sort of "gift basket" package for the Gluten Free Desserts Cookbook, where I make a "Starter package" (or a few variations) that include all the ingredients needed to start baking a Gluten Free Carrot Cake, or a Gluten Free Boston Cream Pie, or some other popular dessert -- that way, when someone gets the book in hand, they will be all set and ready to go. Not sure if there would be enough demand to warrant marketing such a package, so, that'll wait for a bit I'm sure. :)
I still have a new, and absolutely wonderful, pizza-crust recipe to post in the next few days. Certainly it will be available via this blog by next week.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Here is a recipe to start off any day in a great way -- Glutenfree Buttermilk waffles recipe, for waffles that are light and fluffy, have a mild flavor, and are simply delicious! I just top mine with a bit of pure Maple Syrup end enjoy eating waffles as good as any "regular" ones.
You will need a waffle maker for these, which thankfully I received for Christmas this year (a dedicated gluten-free one, only to be used with Celiac-safe recipes!). It's probably no coincidence that my wife created this new recipe about the same time she presented me with the waffle maker as a gift :) This new waffle maker is the only one we own, and it will not be a problem keeping the wheat-eaters happy, since these new GF waffles are just as good as any alternative (the only thing better may be the gluten-free blueberry buckwheat waffles my wife also gave me for Christmas - a recipe I will soon post)!
Hope you enjoy the recipe and the blog. Happy baking!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The holiday break afforded my wife the opportunity to do quite a bit of baking and developing new recipes. The above pictured Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Brown Bread with Honey-accent is one of the winners that emerged from the kitchen during the past couple weeks. It has been through the taste-testing and confirmation phase now, both here at home and having been served in a rosemary/garlic variation for a Christmas dinner among other things.
This bread has a wonderful "honey wheat bread" flavor and texture, and is great for sandwiches, toast, French-toast, and so forth. We sprinkle the top with whole buckwheat kernels prior to baking, just for a little something extra. If you have an event coming up where you want to serve a great tasting gluten free bread, bake this bread recipe a few hours before the event and you will be sure to have a fresh-out-of-the-oven hit with your guests (and, chances are, most people will not even have a clue it is gluten-free). As I mentioned earlier, the bread lends itself to some rather easy variations - one being the rosemary/garlic version we served for Christmas (If anyone wants the exact formula, let me know and I will see if my wife kept the formulation written down somewhere). So, have fun with changing it up a little if you want a slightly different accent flavor.
The GF bread uses a variety of grains, including: teff, buckwheat, and flax. So, if you have these grains/seeds nearby and wanted a recipe to use them in, here you go :)
More recipes are on the way in upcoming blog entries for 2007!