Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sourdough Bread, Biscuits, Tortillas, Quick Breads, Muffins, and Scones

I am allergic to yeast, both baker's and brewer's. I was really surprised five years ago when the allergist tested me and then put me through an elimination diet and challenge, but the results stood. I had hoped this year that when I started working with sourdough I would be able to eat it, but no, it appears I am even more allergic to wild yeasts.

I do try to bake sourdough bread for my family each week even though I can't have it. The love bread and it makes meals, especially lunch, easier to prepare. I use an einkorn converted sourdough starter and einkorn flour. After reading many sourdough recipes online I was able to combine several ideas to get a bread that works for us.

Each week I make einkorn tortillas; usually Tuesdays and Fridays. I'm still messing with recipes and the tortilla maker in an attempt to get perfect tortillas. I even bought a Cuisinart food processor to try to make it easier by eliminating the need to spend so much time rubbing fat into flour with my bare hands, but I hated the results. I know a lot of people love Cuisinarts, but I took mine back after six days.

I also make einkorn biscuits several times a week; I hope to get a blog post up later this month demonstrating my recipe and process. Again, I had to tweak several recipes to come up with one that rises well with nice flaky layers. Midway through testing recipes I had to change course and find a recipe that wasn't for buttermilk biscuits. I think I hit gold as I now have a recipe that rises beautifully, tastes delicious, and has a very manageable dough that doesn't lose anything when the scraps are reworked.

When I realized that the sourdough bread wasn't going to work for me I turned to savory quick breads on soup night, but that's on hold right now while I avoid buttermilk this month. I must say that I baked a gorgeous Irish soda bread on Halloween that was enjoyed by all of our guests.

Muffins are probably the first bread I ever baked; they are more like cake than bread but since we eat them as breakfast and snacks rather than dessert they fall into the bread category around here. Muffins were one of our go to gluten-free breads as they are easy to bake and convert well to gluten-free. They do have more sugar than I like to feed the boys regularly so now that I am working with einkorn I make them far less often, make once a month as a breakfast treat.

Scones have always been a favorite of mine; they are basically a slightly sweet biscuit, often with the addition of other ingredients such currants or dried ginger pieces. For decades I had been making a simple corn scone from the Moosewood Cooks At Home cookbook but now that corn is off the menu for me (maybe that will change once I get my histamine issues under control) I am working on a basic scone recipe by tweaking the successful biscuit recipe to include more sugar.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm Really Bad at This

Either I forget to write something or I write a draft and leave it sitting there.

Tuesdays are usually a busy day for us and Election Day was no different. We had a full load of lessons and chores plus we spent the afternoon visiting at a friend's house. After dinner we turned on the TV to watch election results and stayed up way too late.

On the way home we stopped at Trader Joe's and picked up one of their new brined organic whole chickens. After sprinkling it with a small amount of kosher salt and a generous amount of dried thyme I popped it into the oven at 400° on convect roast. It was delicious! I'd say it was one of the best organic birds we've eaten. Alongside we had roasted Dutch Baby potatoes and broccoli - a simple meal that everyone enjoyed.

With a freshly roasted chicken carcass on hand I threw together a quick chicken broth so that I have some on hand that qualifies as safe on the low histamine diet. It boiled gently for 2 hours and then I strained and froze it. I have so much frozen stock that I had to label this as safe so that I can tell them all apart. It isn't as delicious or nutritious as a slow-simmered stock but it will do for now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

No More Broth!

For now, anyway.

I've been having major allergy symptoms for some time now (off and on my whole life, really, but almost uncontrollable this past year, to the point of leaving me unable to sleep) and decided to try a histamine avoidance elimination diet for four weeks to see if bringing down my systemic histamine levels might help. Unfortunately, slow-cooked broth is off the menu as meat products release histamine after they are cooked (naturally occurring histidine converts to histamine). The only broth I can have is broth that is cooked for two hours (not twenty-four) and frozen immediately. I don't have any of that right now so I'll have to skip drinking broth until I get some made with fresh bones (not frozen leftovers, that whole histamine thing).

Instead of drinking a mug of broth this morning I had a cup of nettle infusion. Nettles are a natural anti-histamine and I've been meaning to try nettle infusion for quite some time; I even already had some in the house. I enjoyed the infusion with a spoonful of sage blossom honey and it was really delicious.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Morning Pancakes

For some time now we've had a solid at-home Sunday breakfast routine going - Pancakes and Bacon.

Saturday evening I blend together Einkorn berries and buttermilk and then allow that to sit covered overnight. In the morning I add melted butter, leavenings, sweetener, and eggs, and then I adjust the consistency of the batter by adding either more buttermilk or a small amount of Einkorn flour. I cook them on a vintage electric griddle (which has improved my pancake making by a significant margin) and serve them with Kerrygold butter and real maple syrup.

(This is a riff on Sue Gregg's blender batter pancakes; I freely offer her credit for introducing me to the idea of blending whole grains with buttermilk.  My method the next morning is a little different, as are the ingredients I add.)

These are by far our favorite pancakes, even better than the buttermilk pancakes from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, which were are favorite for a long time. As a bonus these have the extra nutrition from the whole grain and the soaking.

Our favorite bacon is from Beeler's. We buy it from our local health food store and I'll admit to grabbing four packages at a time just in case they are out of it sometime.

When we camp we make our Sunday pancakes with homemade biscuit mix using Einkorn flour, Real Salt, pastured lard, and Featherweight (corn-free) baking powder. I mix that with buttermilk and eggs and the pancakes turnout very much like the pancakes I remember from growing up - tender and fluffy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hodge Podge Saturday

I have been way off my game with meal planning. I have a November meal plan made but haven't been pulling things out of the freezer to defrost, which means I have to change to plan. Breakfast has been pretty much off my radar and each morning we're scrambling to figure out what to eat. Today it was homemade gluten free doughnuts, which made the boys happy.

We pulled together a simple lunch: I made hard-cooked eggs and biscuits and Papa made salads.

By dinner time we'd put the kitchen into disarray while investigating our electrical problems (we have a circuit that is out but didn't trip the breaker). I wanted to clean up and figure out what to make for dinner, Papa wanted to go out to eat. We settled for bringing something in, which I really didn't want to do but it's hard to disagree with a tired, hungry man who has spent his entire day working on a house problem.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I'm suppose to make a nice slow cooker meal on Fridays, as we are out of the house all afternoon. However, preparing for and having a huge party Wednesday night has thrown me off a bit and I didn't defrost any meat. I did make einkorn tortillas at lunch, so I think we'll have tacos for dinner using pre-cooked and frozen meat. I made refried beans after the party so we have those too; the dinner won't take much prep.

I enjoyed my broth this afternoon. I was talking with a good friend and she reminded me how important bone broth is.  When it gets hot in summer I stop drinking it and I think my health is showing the effects.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's NaBloPoMo ...

... (aka National Blog Posting Month) and I've decided that this is the blog that I will post to this year. If you're unfamiliar with NaBloPoMo it's a challenge that bloggers to take to have a blog post everyday of the month. Since next to no one reads this blog I don't know that it matters that I chose this blog, but food is where my interest is right now so this blog makes the most sense.  I doubt I'll write everyday as already I see some very busy days mid-month, but I'll be making an effort to post more often.

Just to keep things real, tonight we had tater tots and hot dogs for dinner (both from Trader Joe's so perhaps there weren't quite as bad as they could have been). Sometimes I'm not feeling well and getting any meal on the table is an effort. The package of hot dogs was left over from camping and the tater tots had been purchased to try out a brunch recipe. The guys had Udi's gluten-free buns (I did NOT feel well enough to make Einkorn rolls) and we all had fruit instead of a vegetable (so that I didn't have to cook one).