Monthly Archives: March 2008

Close Encounter with a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

A few days ago, I was taking Ethan to baseball practice.  We went to the usual entrance we use at the school at which his team practices.  However, since the school is on Spring Break, the gate was closed, and we had to turn around and find another route in.  As I was turning the truck, there on the blacktop, I saw a BIG snake.  I didn’t measure it, but it was at least 3.5 feet long, maybe 4 feet.  I did get out of the truck for a closer look, but I kept a safe distance.  It was moving slowly, away from me.  I took a pic with my phone (which didn’t come out very clearly), and equipped with the pic and with memory, sought to identify the snake, once we got home.

Turns out it was a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake!  You know, just the venemous snake responsible for the most bites and deaths of any rattlesnake in the U.S..  Eek!

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In looking up information, I saw that Arizona Game & Fish has a FREE poster that it will mail out for the asking (free postage and everything).  Now, I have no idea if they will mail it to non-Arizona residents, but it seems like they would.  I spoke to a woman named Sharon (svoiland@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7220), who was extremely friendly, and even more helpful when she found out I was a homeschooler, “Well, then, I have more things I’d like to send you!  How about a Raptors of Arizona poster, too, and one of Arizona’s state symbols, and we have some wildlife-related lesson plans for many grade levels….”  So, we’re eagerly expecting our posters and a host of other goodies to arrive soon.  🙂

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)

I have a new favorite gluten-free flour mix, and I’ve been experimenting to see if it’s truly “all-purpose.”  I haven’t yet tried it in yeast bread, but everything else I’ve made with it has turned out great.

I made these yesterday, and my husband — who doesn’t even really like sweets — said, “Those cookies ROCK!  They’re the best g.f. cookies I’ve ever tasted.”  And, he took two with him for breakfast this morning.  😉

This recipe makes a “classic” soft chocolate chip cookie:  A tiny bit crisp on the outside, and chewy and soft on the inside.   I made them yesterday, and they still have their great texture today (anyone who has baked g.f. before knows that, unfortunately, many goodies that taste great straight from the oven may not even be edible the next day).

NOTES:  If you don’t have insulated pans, get two jelly-roll style cookie sheets, and place crumpled and slightly flattened aluminum foil between them, to create a bit of an air gap.

Also, I HIGHLY recommend Reynold’s Non-Stick Foil.  It eliminates possible contamination if you have used your pans for “regular,” gluten-containing baked goods.  And, simply, nothing sticks to it!

For inexpensive dairy/casein-free chocolate chips, check out your local grocery store’s generic brands!  I shop at Fry’s, which is a Kroger affiliate.  They supply FMV brand generics, and the FMV brand is entirely dairy-free:  no butter fat or milk!  And, at only $1.17 a bag, that’s a LOT cheaper than specialty-branded dairy-free chocolate chips, which are typically around $4 for an 8 oz bag.  (However, FMV does have soy lecithin in them, and have vanillin, which is an artificial flavor.) 

Lastly, although Bob’s Red Mill does make a sorghum flour, I buy mine at a local Asian food store, in the Indian foods aisle.  It’s a lot cheaper that way, around $2-3 for a 2 lb bag.  It will likely be marked as “jawar” or “juwar” flour.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (GFCF)
Makes 36 large cookies

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup shortening*
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup rice (or other) milk
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (or fewer, for less chocolatey cookies)

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line insulated baking pans (see note above) with nonstick foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream both sugars, eggs, shortening, vanilla and rice milk.

To the shortening mixture, add half of the flour mixture, and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Then, add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing completely.  This will make a stiff dough.  Stir in the chocolate chips, mixing well.

With your hands, make medium-sized balls of dough, about 2 Tablespoons each.  Place dough on cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar.  (Cookies will spread only a small amount.)

Bake for 26 minutes, or until cookies are slightly browned (switching oven racks midway through, if you’re baking two sheets at a time).

Remove from sheet with a spatula, and cool on racks.  (Or, do it like I do, old-school-style, cooling them on cut-open brown paper shopping bags.)

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While I have qualms about rain forest being destroyed for ever-increasing demand of palm oil (Spectrum is produced in Colombia), I am also very grateful for an organic, non-hydrogenated, naturally-produced, peanut-free facility to produce the shortening that I use.  Crisco, btw, is also a peanut-free company, but their shortening is partially hydrogenated, and contains some transfat (though much less than it used to). 

Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Granola

I used to shop at Trader Joe’s a lot.  But, it’s nearly a half-hour away, and since my regular grocery trips already take me to three separate stores trying to accomodate our gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free diet, I needed to trim down my stops.  Until last week, I hadn’t been there for a good six months.

But, on my rice milk recipe (which I still make every 10 days or so), a reader recently posted a comment about Trader Joe’s now having calcium-containing, gluten-free rice milk.*  And, at a recent homeschooling field trip, an old acquaintance had brought some of Trader Joe’s gluten-free granola, and wanted me to try it.  She’s not gluten-free;  she just likes the taste.  Wow.  You don’t often find non-gf’ers eating g.f. food just for the taste of it.  So, I thought it was time for a trip.

I have good news and bad news about TJ’s g.f. granola.

The good news is that it is really tasty.  At my store, there were two types:  Loaded Fruit & Nut, and Tropical Forest.  “Loaded” lives up to its name.  Tropical Forest has vanilla and coconut flavor (though, to my 6yo’s dismay, no actual coconut), and has Brazil nuts (which he, who is mostly nut-free, seems to tolerate well) and dried banana chunks.  I do not like those banana chunks.  They’re chewy/hard, brown and altogether unappetizing.

Both granolas’ substance is primarily made up of very small corn flakes and BB-sized nuggets that are strikingly similar to Perky’s Nutty Rice cereal.  Both granolas also contain flax seeds and sesame seeds.  The cereal is not clumped, like “normal” granola.

The only bad news, other than the weird banana chunks, is the price.  It’s $3.69 for a 12 oz. pouch.  $3.69.  That’s a chunk of change for a smallish bag that makes about five reasonably-sized servings.

While the granolas were worth a try, and I might buy them again on a special occasion, the price is prohibitive.  For our one-income family who’s already shelling out a chunk o’ change for weekly groceries, that is just too expensive for a bag of cereal.

However, all is not lost;  getting the granola has inspired me to try concocting my own.  I don’t know why I’ve never tried it before.  I make homemade g.f. everything, and have long-lamented the dearth of good g.f. granolas on the market.  I think, though, that it would be pretty easy to combine some Nutty Rice, some g.f. corn flakes, mixed dried fruits and seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, and maybe even stir them together with a light honey-sugar syrup so that it would cause the ingredients to clump.  I’ll post a recipe, once I try it, if it’s successful.

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* They do, indeed, now have g.f. organic rice milk.  It comes in quart and half-gallons.  $2.69 for a half-gallon, which is reasonable.  It does contain calcium and a few other vitamins.  HOWEVER, it contains NO protein.  I got a few half-gallons for back-up, but I can’t see serving my kids a protein-free liquid as their staple “milk.”  

Spring Booksies

I’m very happy to be part of a book club again.  I’ve belonged to only one in my life;  it was a couple of years ago, and my relationship with it was very brief, mostly because it was held about 40 miles from my house.

This new one is comprised of eightish women from my church, each of us with enough interest-overlap to make things comfortably familiar, but with enough diversity to make for lively discussion.  The whole thing was spearheaded by a woman, who, for many years, I was hesitant to call “friend;” I hold her in such high esteem.  I still hold her in high esteem, but not awe.  Being awe-struck is not a good catalyst for friendship, and she’d rather be befriended than be held in awe.  So, I now call Kathy my friend, and she’s glad to be down from her pedestal.  🙂

The goal for choosing the books is Good Art + Good Message.  Just because we’re a bunch of Christian women does not mean we want to be reading the religious equivalent of pulp fiction, so, no Francine Rivers for us, thankyouverymuch.  (She would fall under Bad Art + Good Message.) 

Our first book (recommended by Kathy) was fabulous.  Absolutely fabulous.  It was, in fact, one of the best books I’ve ever read, at least in the top 10.  It’s called Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.  It was good on so many different levels.  It has a well-conceived, well-executed plot, with a lot of moral dilemma.  It’s beatifully written.  All the strings were not tidily wrapped up in the end;  a number of things were “resolved” in a very surprising manner, but in such a way that just seemed apt.  Actually, “apt” is a word that I’d use to describe Enger’s writing.  He has a fairly wide vocabulary, but it’s his apt usage, especially of adjectives, that had me in deep appreciation.  He doesn’t write showily, but all words are so judiciously chosen that the whole thing just seems right.  This book wasn’t ever presented, I don’t think, as a “Christian” book, but the author knows God;  it’s apparent from his writing.  Peace Like a River was a completely satisfactory read, one you feel better for having read when the last page is done.

(From Wikipedia, I learn that there’s a movie version in production right now, slated for release in 2009.  It stars Billy Bob Thornton, who must be playing the father in the story, and that’s probably a good casting, IMO.)

Before-during-after Enger’s book, I also decided to tackle Jane Austen.  I’d never read anything by her.  I’d always been intimidated by her, though, in retrospect, that doesn’t make sense, seeing how I’ve loved every movie I’ve seen made of her works.  But, that’s true for many fears:  once they come to light, it’s easy to see how irrational they are.  Yes, I was afraid of Jane Austen.  She’s held in such high regard — with deep love, even — by so many readers — scholars, even — and I was afraid, I think, that I didn’t have what it took to appreciate her.  I’m not so very girly.  I’ve never been into romances, or even books heavy on relationship.  I’m not so very proper.  Plus, given that she wrote 200 or so years ago, I thought maybe I couldn’t get into the archaic language…  and I didn’t want to feel like a literary failure for having no appreciation for Jane Austen.  So, out of discipline, more than anything, I decided that I would read at least a book of hers, just to say I’ve done it, both to myself, and anyone who might ask.  “Yes,” I’d dramatically sigh, “I tried reading her, but I just don’t have the depth of character to appreciate her works.”  Well, the only thing on our library’s shelf was Northanger Abbey.  So, I started with that.  And, golly, I couldn’t put it down.  Though a fairly slim book, it wasn’t a particularly fast read;  I did discover that, at least for me, there’s no skimming of Austen.  And, I didn’t want to.  I wanted to pick up every word and nuance and gentle foreshadowing.  I quickly followed Northanger Abbey with Emma, and after several very late nights consuming that delicious book, decided that I would have to limit myself to only one Jane Austen book every three weeks, or I’d never get any sleep.

At the book club (which meets only every-other-month), discussing Peace, we ended with a discussion of what book should be next.  It seemed like no one had really come prepared with a book to recommend.  One popped into my mind, and after no one piped up with their own suggestion, I laid it out there.  It’s a book that I’ve read three times already — twice when I was in high school, and the last time, 11-ish years ago, when I was pregnant with my firstborn.  And, I’d been wanting to read it again.  I remembered it as a fabulous book, and why not share its fabulousness with others, right??  Ugh.  I wish I could take it back.  Not that it’s a bad book, by any means, but as I start to read it again, I realize that it’s a terrific, compelling story, but it’s not necessarily anything art-like.  There’s not much craft in the author’s style;  he just lays it out there.  I’m realizing that it’s probably not the best book for our group, and since it was suggested by me, it’s humbling.  Plus, it was reported to me that a friend’s 8yo exclaimed to her, upon picking it up from the library, “Gosh, mom!  That’ll take you five years to read!”  It’s over 400 pages.  With that compelling bit of salesmanship, if you’d like to read it, too, please do.  It’s called The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain.  I scored a hardback in excellent condition from half.com for $4.74, including shipping.

(I’m wishing that I had suggested In This House of Brede, by Rumer Godden.  What a glorious, deep, beautiful book that was.  Hmph.  Maybe in another 18 months, when it’s my turn again, to recommend a book….)          

Almost High-Fiber Molasses Muffins (GFCF recipe)

Gluten-free baking.  It has so many difficulties!  One problem can be the lack of fiber in many g.f. flours.  White rice flour and starches, which are so prevalent in g.f. baking, are totally devoid of fiber.  But, I have often tried to supplement my breads with various fibers, but that results in even heavier, sodden lumps of barely-edible yuck.  I’ve determined that moderation is the key.  Even though I’d like a tasty muffin with a good 4-6 grams of fiber in it, I haven’t found a recipe that really works. 

I came up with this recipe, which has about 2 grams of fiber in each muffin.  While that doesn’t qualify as high fiber, it’s still pretty good.

These muffins are good for breakfast;  they’re not super-sweet, definitely not cupcake-style muffins.  Even though they don’t rise super-puffy, they have a nice, bready texture, and are not too heavy.

Like most of my recipes (since I’m baking for a family of six), this makes a big batch.  If it’s too many for your family, freeze half of your results, and enjoy them next week, too!

Almost High-Fiber Molasses Muffins (GFCF)
makes 24 muffins

2 Tbsp rice bran
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
3 Tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded Tbsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses (note:  in lieu of sugar and blackstrap molasses, you could simply use 1 cup dark brown sugar, plus 2 Tbsp dark molasses, if you have it)
2 large eggs
1 cup orange juice
1 cup milk of your choice (dairy, rice, soy, etc.)
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350*F. 

Line 24 muffin cups with baking cups/papers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 12 ingredients (all the dry ingredients) until well-combined.

In a small bowl (preferably a 4-cup liquid measuring cup), mix the molasses, eggs, orange juice, milk and oil.  If your ingredients don’t amount to a full 3 cups of liquid, add some more milk or orange juice to bring it to three total cups.

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Stir in the raisins.

Fill each muffin cup with a scant 1/4 cup of batter, and place tins in oven.

Bake for about 26 minutes, or until the tops of muffins are lightly browned.

If you let them cool for about five minutes, they release from the paper completely.  However, if you’re like us, and you just can’t wait, and must eat them straight from the oven, your first muffin or two will probably stick to the paper a bit. 🙂

Enjoy!

  

Little League starts up again!

My oldest, Ethan, is 10.  He adores baseball, which is a delight to my heart;  we share that love.  When he was four and five (my, that seems so long ago), we had him on tee-ball teams, but then, when he was almost-seven, he got post-strep arthritis.  It turns out that his sore throat was actually strep, which I didn’t find out about until nearly two months after the sore throat, when the strep antibodies started attacking his joints, mostly his knees and hips.  I’ve since found out that this happens in about 2% of untreated-strep cases.  Anyways.  For about three years, we had a horrible time with my poor son, who would have — at first, nearly daily flare-ups, which, over the course of years wound down to about once every two weeks.  The first year was also a difficult time with three months of high-potency antibiotics, Vioxx (which has since been pulled from the market), steroids, and ibuprofen, to try to eliminate the cause and deal with the pain, plus NUMEROUS homeopathic remedies.  He was actually supposed to be on the antibiotics for six months, but, to the consternation of his rheumatologist, we stopped them, because they were messing up his digestive system so bad, the doctors thought he had Crohn’s Disease, and he had to get a lower G.I.  Ugh.  It was a bad year.

All of that to say that he couldn’t play sports for a long time.  When he had a flare-up, it would be so bad that I would have to dress him like a baby.  Ever done that with a nine year old?  It’s heartbreaking.  He was absolutely immobilized by pain.

So, this past Fall was the first time we thought he was healthy enough for team sports.  Indeed, I think the last flare-up he had was in August, bless God.  He played “Fall Ball” — or, instructional-league baseball, in hopes that he’d be ready for Little League here in the Spring.  He did well, and at the beginning of February, he went to try-outs, in hopes to make the Minor Leagues.  To his great disappointment, he didn’t make it.  AA ball for him.  To make matters worse, they didn’t have a coach for Ethan’s team, so while other teams were practicing already, we were just twiddling our thumbs (and literally praying) for a coach.  Finally, someone stepped up.  Then, he had to go out of town the next week.

So, we’ve had four, two-hour practices scheduled this week, to try to play catch-up, since the team’s first game is Thursday, less than a week away.

The exceptionally good news, is that, while Ethan is (to a bit of his shame), the oldest kid on his team, he is certainly one of the best.

He told me — and it was so telling of his dear heart and character — that he had just been so nervous at the tryouts in February.  “It was at a ‘real’ high school field, and there were so many kids, and I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know the coaches, and I just couldn’t hit.  But on this team,  I really like the kids, and I like the coach — he says encouraging things every time we do something well — and I feel a lot better.”

So, as it’s supposed to, it looks like this Spring will be mainly to build his confidence.

Also, I like the team moms a lot better this year.  A lot better.  Last Fall, there was a passel of richer-than-thou, blonder-than-thou separatists who kept to their snooty selves, leaving me and one (sometimes two) other moms to take refuge in each other as we watched our sons play.  This year, even though there’s (apparently) still a wide gap between the have and have-not-so-much families, there’s a lot better comradery between the moms.  The friendliest woman is the wife of a surgeon and oozes $$ and svelte blondness, and I overheard her talk about her trainer.  My heart sunk;  I hate situations where everyone is trying to outdo each other with their own (or their husband’s or their kids’) accomplishments or attainments.  However, this just doesn’t seem to be the case at all, and even though she has a personal trainer, she’s very approachable.  🙂  We actually had a great conversation about the dangers of undiagnosed strep;  she had a cousin die from kidney failure from it, and was very sympathetic to Ethan’s plight. 

Right now, since I’m pregnant (see the post previous to this one), the biggest problem becomes making dinner on practice/game nights.  If I put dinner in the Crockpot that morning, that means I have to smell the dinner all day.  But, if I wait until the afternoon or evening to make it, I feel worse than ever, and with no energy to boot, and my stomach turning at the sight of food.

So.

Even with its small problems, I’m very happy to have baseball started again.  I’m happy that Ethan is having a great time, and finishes each practice tired and smiling.  I’m happy to have the motivation to boot me out of the house, which is hard for me to do when I’m expecting a baby, so intense are my nesting urges.  I’m happy that my other two boys enjoy playing on the playground close to the practice field, and that Audrey is charming and spunky, running around during the practices…

Baseball is good.  

Martin, Party of Seven

Hopefully, if you know me in real life, you’re not finding out about this for the first time, here.  But, I thought the time has come for me to do a little virtual announcement of another baby joyously added to our home.  S/he will be arriving about October 22.

And, yes, as Lisa commented on the recipe below ;), that’s a major reason why I haven’t been blogging.  Both because I feel cruddy, and because… well, it’s hard to explain, but I get INTENSE nesting syndrome immediately.  I gave into it with my first pregnancy, and happily kept myself in my home, keeping only myself and my husband company for nine months, feeling quite justified for not involving myself in virtually any outside affairs for the whole pregnancy.  I contentedly dropped out of life.

With each subsequent pregnancy, I’ve prepped myself in advance, knowing my tendencies, and tried to pep-talk myself into joining the rest of the world and not avoiding my regular activities and responsibilities, outside the home.  I’m telling ya, it’s hard for me to even go to the library.  Or to Target.  I just want to be at home, with my children, not really talking to anyone, simply taking care of things here with my immediate family, making sure all is in order…  And, while I still don’t think that’s bad, it’s not really practical, nor necessarily advisable, if I want to keep my friendships, and have visitors at the hospital when the baby does come.

So, blogging takes a hit.  I just have found it very difficult to prioritize keeping it up.  In addition, I have about nine comments in waiting for my approval and reply in the moderation queue from the guy who wants to continue to debate creation vs. evolution.  While I don’t have the inclination or obsessiveness to reply thoroughly to him, I also feel guilty, to some extent, for blogging about other things whilst he waits.  Dumb, perhaps, but true.

So…  in pregnancy news (sort of)… 

I have always thought that it was lame to work out to videos/DVDs in one’s home.  Lame to the extreme.  “Get out and run!” has been my response to the women who jump and jiggle in their own family rooms, alone in front of the TV, following a svelte and smiling leader.  I love love love to run.  However, it gets increasingly difficult for me get myself out of the house, by myself, for 30-45 minutes at a pop.  I’m not a morning person, but my husband is out of the house by 7:00 a.m., and if I want to run in the morning, that means I’d have to get up before 6:00, which is just not appealing to me at all.  Plus, that means if Audrey wakes up early, he’d have to tend to her while he’s trying to get ready for work, which he’d do, but not happily.  So, my other option is when he gets home from work.  But… we have dinner right after he arrives, about 6:30.  And, by the time dinner is done and Audrey is in bed, it’s 7:30, and that means it’s dark (or nearly so), and while we have a safe neighborhood, I get the willies running by myself in the dark.  And, our dog overheats easily, so she’s not a good running partner (the only drawback about her breed, IMO).  Then, I get home, hot, exhausted and sweaty and I still have dinner dishes to do, and a hubby to spend quality time with.

So.  With more than a little resignation, I had decided that if I was going to lose my ever-increasing belly fat, and not get winded walking up a short incline on our too-infrequent hikes, I was going to have to join the women who work out to a DVD.  Bummer.  I looked into a few different programs, decided on the one I wanted, decided that it was too expensive, found it on eBay for a reasonable price, got the go-ahead from my hubby to buy it… Then, I found out that I was pregnant.  I think that, in general, it’s fairly inadvisable to start an exercise regimen during pregnancy, but I reasoned with myself that it was early on…  By the time I ordered and received it, I was six weeks along…  I’m now only two weeks into the program, but, though feeling sore, am quite happy to be doing something about my spreading hindquarters than just rueing them.  🙂  I still find all the interminably perky hosts to be annoying and unrealistic, rather than inspiring, but I figure I’m exercising my character and attitude, as well as my body, as I make an effort not to glare at them, nor become discouraged by their perfectly toned, frequently… uh… supplemented bodies.

So, that’s another reason I haven’t been blogging, at least for the last two weeks.  My blog and e-mail time, which is generally the hour-and-a-half each afternoon, while my kids are in quiet time, has been taken up with 30-45 minutes of working out.

Also, Little League baseball has started, which should be another post in itself.  But, now we have 2 games a week, plus one to two practices a week…  another chomp out of my available time.

Excuses, excuses, right??

Please do forgive me, especially all you lovely (mostly) ladies whom I’ve enjoyed reading for the last nearly-two years, and who have faithfully read my own drivel.  It’s really a slight to you to say, “Well, I just don’t have the time to read what you’ve written.”  I feel horribly for that.

Historically, the hyper-nesting is intense in the first and last trimester, and eases a bit in the middle.  So, hopefully, in just a few weeks, I’ll emerge from my blogging coma and give you all the attention you deserve.

In the meantime, please forbear with my weaknesses, if you will, and I’ll do my best to catch up as soon as I can.

GFCF Cracker Flatbread Recipe

Most of the time, I don’t pine for gluten-containing baked goods. I know what a health turnaround I made, going gluten-free. It’s (usually) not enough to tempt. But, sometimes, the oddest longing strikes me. Lately, it’s been for saltines. I think most gf’ers would do a search online or in their cookbooks for an appropriate recipe. I don’t know why that isn’t my first thought; I guess I just want to start, and recipe searches can take so long. So, I checked a (regular) saltine box, pulled out similar g.f. ingredients, and went for it. The results aren’t totally like saltines, but they are very tasty. They’re sort of like a partly-chewy cracker or a partly-crunchy flatbread. One of my sons said that they taste like pizza crust; I think these would work fabulously for thin pizza crusts (where you bake the crust first, then add toppings and broil).

Like most GF recipes, these taste best on the day they’re made. On day 2, they get a little tough, though they still taste good. So, if you’re going to make and store them, they would probably do better without the second baking (see instructions below), so that they would stay softer.

(This recipe is also casein-free/dairy-free.)

GFCF Cracker Flatbread
makes 36 saltine-sized crackers

2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 rounded Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening

Heat the oven to 425*F.

Line two jelly roll pans (11″ x 17″) with nonstick foil, or with heavy-duty aluminum foil that has been greased. Remove the foil to the countertop so that it’s laying mostly-flat, but so that you can see the creases which denote the edges of your pan.

Into the warm water, add the sugar and yeast. Stir gently, and set aside.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the tapioca starch, flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt (I use a whisk). With a pastry blender, work in the shortening, combining until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

To the flour mixture, add the yeast and water, stir well to combine. This will make a soft dough.

Spoon the dough onto the foil, dividing it evenly. Cut a sheet of plastic wrap long enough to cover the foil. Cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough to the dimensions of the pan, making it as evenly thick and rectangular as possible. It will be about 1/4″ thick. Repeat with the other pan.

Place pans in oven, on separate racks and bake for 20 minutes, switching the pans after 10 minutes so that they bake evenly. After 20 total minutes, remove the pans, and quickly lift out the foil, setting it (with the cracker dough it contains) onto the countertop. Flip the dough (which will have shrunk quite a bit) so that it’s bottom-side-up. With a pizza wheel cutter, cut the dough into cracker-sized pieces (I cut each pan into 18 saltine-sized crackers). It’s all right if the pizza wheel doesn’t totally cut through each piece.

Place the foil back into the pans, and place the pans back in the oven. Bake for another 12 minutes, switching the pans after six minutes so that they bake thoroughly.

Remove the pans from the oven, and lift out the foil, again setting it on your countertop so that the crackers cool more quickly.

Eat them warm, or let them cool and store in a tightly-sealed container.

Am I still alive??

I got a very kind e-mail from Mom Loves Being at Home, asking if everything is OK with me.  I have been absent, but things are (mostly) OK! 

But, here’s what’s been going on the last couple of weeks:

  • My husband went out of town for 5 days (which means I was extra-busy).
  • I got *really* sick.  I think I had the flu.  Or maybe pneumonia.  I had symptoms of both, but never made it to the doctor.  I’m still not quite recovered.
  • My mother-in-law came to visit for three days.
  • I’ve had sick kids (just went to the pediatrician today and found out that my 6yo has strep throat).
  • I’ve had computer problems (my computer keeps not recognizing my wireless router and won’t let me go online).
  • Plus, I’m preparing to host a big meeting at my house on Saturday, and generally catching up on the housework that piles up while mom lays, sick, on the couch.

There are some other things going on, too…  It just makes for days where I hardly even touch the computer; a few days, I haven’t even turned it on!  Still, though, in the grand scheme of things, life is good.  I just keep waiting for the pace to return to somewhat-normal so that I can return to blogging.  Maybe next week.  🙂

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