Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gluten-free Monday: GF flour blend & Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know, I know.  It's Tuesday.  I realize now that posting on Mondays will likely be difficult because Brownies is at 4:00 every Monday which means my Mondays is normally dominated by running around, getting craft supplies ready, doing some shopping, etc.

Yesterday we had a skating party at Brownies so there was little running around and no crafting to be done but Emily was home sick so the day was strange and didn't follow routine AND I am starting to cut/limit Henry's naps so there was that added in the mix as well.

And so, on this very cold Tuesday, I give to you Gluten-free Monday: the second edition!

Last week, Julie asked if I would post my gluten-free flour blend.  I'll happily do that today.

In full disclosure, this is actually Carol's Sorghum Blend and not invented by me at all.

I love this blend.  I've tried many and this one is by far the best for our tastes.  No rice flour: win! Easy to mix: win! As close to wheat in texture and taste that you're gonna get: win!

I don't use blends too often, however.  Normally I gravitate to recipes that have a number of different flours and starches in the recipe and do not depend on an all-purpose blend.  These recipes tend to work best as the ratios have been determined for that specific recipe.  This is why I like MGCC's website so much.  Their GF guru, Julie, doesn't use blends either.

There are some instances that require a pre-made blend however.  I have a couple of recipes that ask for one and I go to this blend for converting some of my square and muffin recipes.  It works well.  I wouldn't use it to convert a cake or cookies, though. Be forewarned, it won't work.  It is great for thickening sauces, stews, or other recipes that ask for 1-2 tbsp of flour as a thickener.  This will be a great replacement.

Carol's Sorghum Blend

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
1 cup tapioca starch/flour

Mix and store.

I've used this recipe in the following muffin recipe to rave reviews:

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I can't even remember where I got this recipe... AllRecipes, maybe? It's a GREAT addition to kids' lunches if they survive an hour past baking.

2 tbsp shortening
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups Carol's Sorghum Blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugar in big bowl.
Add eggs and applesauce, mix well.
Mix dry ingredients, add to big bowl.
Add in vanilla, yogurt and bananas.
Mix well.
Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into muffin cups.  Bake at 350F for 24-30 minutes.  Makes 20-24 muffins.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gluten-free Mondays

I've decided, on the spur of the moment as I devour another gluten-free cheese bun that I baked this morning, to start a new series on the blog: Gluten-free Mondays. 

I've been eating totally gluten-free for two years next month.  I was dragged kicking and screaming into a gluten-free diet after almost two years of ongoing and sometimes serious health issues revealed that gluten-free was the only cure for my many issues.  You can read about my health journey to this discovery here.

Since then I have found and developed a lot of GREAT gluten-free recipes.  My mantra when I started out was that if it wasn't as good as the wheat version, I wouldn't eat it (or make it again).  I've been able to stick to that and in some cases, my gluten-free version is better than the original wheat version.

We now have a completely gluten-free household.  Emily and Hope showed signs of gluten-intolerance about a year ago and have been GF since about then.  Henry has shown signs for a while and has been GF for about two months.  I'm still not convinced that this is the answer for him or that he is truly intolerant but given that gluten-intolerance is hereditary, there's a good chance that he is, even if it isn't solving his current issue.

John decided to join us as the last man standing and after reading an article that scared him off modern, North American wheat for at least a while, if not a lifetime.

I've only just started to convert my own recipes over to a GF version recently.  More often than not, I scour the internet for an already tested recipe.  I find that if I do choose to convert, my best luck happens with muffins, quick breads, pancakes.  I still haven't mastered a from-scratch homemade bread recipe.  Bread still eludes me.  It is the toughest thing to replicate given that it is reliant on gluten to make it 'bready'.  If we want bread, I buy a tolerable version at Costco or get the Bob's Red Mill everyday bread mix.

Several of my friends are starting to consider going GF because they have ongoing gut issues etc.  And they have asked me for recipes.  Instead of putting all my links together, which would take me a LONG time.  I've decided to feature one of our favourite GF recipes here each Monday.  Most often it will be taken from someone else's website or a cookbook.  So, kudos to all those people out there who have mastered recipe conversion.  My family benefits daily from your perseverance.

This morning, as I mentioned above, I baked cheese buns.  These are not normal buns.  They're called Chipa and they're common to South America.  My sister-in-law, who is from Brazil, makes these often.  Their texture takes some getting used to - they're very chewy inside.  We're totally addicted over here.  They need to be eaten the same day they're made so if you aren't going to eat 48 little buns in one day, put some of the batter in the fridge to use the next day.  That's what I normally do and it works great.

I found this recipe on Mennonite Girls Can Cook's gluten-free page.  It's become one of my go-to GF recipe sources.  I've only had one recipe not work out (bread, of course).  And of course, being Mennonite, they appeal to my desire for traditional Mennonite recipes converted to GF.  This week I'll be trying their wareneki recipe from their cookbook.  Can't wait!


3 cups tapioca starch/flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups of strong grated cheese 
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add oil, beaten eggs with the milk and stir in till the dry ingredients are well moistened.
Put into greased mini-muffin tins.
Bake at 350 til golden brown, 20-25 minutes.  I bake mine on 325 convection and leave them in for 15 minutes.

Delicious cheesy little pillows.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Toilet training Henry Day 2

Friends, after only one day, I'm off the wagon. Yesterday afternoon saw one very small, perhaps accidental success. The rest of the day was a series of wet underpants and small puddles. This kid is a camel. I plied him with juice all day and it never reappeared. That makes toilet training a bit challenging. Even this morning his diaper did not reflect the amount of liquid he consumed yesterday.


I was forced to take some social time for myself this morning at Starbucks, mainly for my own sanity. There is only so many times I can sing the pee-pee song without losing my shit.

After Starbucks, it was off to Costco to return two bathing suits for Emily for a bigger size. I had to do it today before they sold out because kids' Speedo suits at $11.99 won't last long.

So now we're home, diaper still on, Dora on the iPad. I hope the afternoon will produce some successes. If so, you're sure to hear about it here.

Update: Lots of pee today.  All in diapers except for one prolific pee in the underpants.  However... a realization! Henry seems to have been routinely dehydrated, which explains why he didn't pee much yesterday.  He drank all that juice, didn't pee much, but today, had a much easier time with pooping than he has in.... months.  Oh my.  Feeling like a bad mother.  Although, I offer him drink a lot but the guy doesn't want them unless it's juice.  He'd rather drink nothing than have to suck back water during the day.  

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Live blogging: toilet training Henry, Day 1

1:38 pm Henry is sleeping and I'm about to put some cookies in the oven. He hit the mark once and I suspect he's saving it all up to unleash in his diaper during his nap.


12:35 all Spider-Man underpants heading to the washing machine. No pee has yet to hit the toilet. We may have a difficult case on our hands. Time for a lunch break. Ham with ketchup. Lunch of toilet training champions



10:20 all decked out in Spider-Man underpants.

9:55am Ready to go




And now to resume the toilet talk...

It seems that I've largely abandoned this space, my personal space on the massive landscape that is the World Wide Web.  I've been thinking more and more lately about how much I miss spending time here, crafting my words, sharing our stories and connecting with people who find their way here.  I've also given time to trying to figure out why I have found it so hard in the last year, and especially since July 24, the date of my last post, to make time for my blog.

There has been one major addition to my life in the last year: Girl Guides of Canada.

The reality is that running two Girl Guide units has dominated my free time in the evenings when I normally spend a little bit of time here.  I love my work with Girl Guides and that won't change.  Nor will the amount of time I devote to it.

And, with my current attempts to get back into paid employment with the government, it isn't likely that more free time is going to open up any time soon.

And so, while it may not be of interest to current readers (if there are any current readers left?), I'm going to change my use of this space somewhat and use it to share meeting ideas, craft ideas, issues and celebrations about my Girl Guide units.  I will still use it as my personal blog.  it won't entirely be Girl Guide-related but since that is a big part of my life, it only makes sense that it becomes more of a feature on the blog.  And if it means that I get back to writing more often, then it's the right answer.

But for now, the blog, at least for this week, is going back to its roots: poop talk! Bum talk! Toilet training talk!

Both of my girls played starring roles here during their toilet training adventures.  And it seems only fair that Henry's foray into all things underpants (his favourite word for underwear) and toilet is documented as well.  Not just for posterity and your enjoyment, but for my own psychological health.

As you may recall, I hate toilet training.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there is one part of parenting I'd like to be able to hire out, it would be this part.  I'll take barf, discipline, sleeplessness, illness over toilet training anyday.  I. HATE. IT.

Maybe that's why we generally suck at it over here.  Although Hope's experience was way better than Emily's and maybe that means that Henry's will be even better.

All I really know is that I'm likely to be washing a lot of underpants today.

Today is Day 1 and currently Henry is still sitting on the couch watching Grover in his dinosaur jammies and a fully stocked diaper.  My resolve is still building.  I still need a shower.  Although maybe it would be wise to delay that until I really need it.  Right now I'm only mildly dirty.  Just wait.

Feeling ready for those underpants! All positive and full of smiles.  Just wait.....

And so, you can expect updates today.  Hopefully many positive ones.  Probably many poopy ones.  Although, given this guy's propensity for being backed up, it may be all pee.  I think I'll be considering myself blessed that he can't produce the deuce without a lot of grunting and red-facedness.

See? Already starting on the poop talk and I haven't even pulled out the Spiderman underpants yet.  Oh, this day is going to be good.  Aren't you glad I'm back?