So, it turns out that the Kamut Puffs I’ve been eating for breakfast everyday since Tuesday are not gluten-free. That sort of makes my little experiment non-conclusive. I’ve decided to forgo it for the rest of the week and try again another time. Maybe after a little more research this time.
Last night after the pancake fiasco I decided to keep things safe for dinner. I made potato pancakes (using chickpea flour), and a spinach/avocado salad with ricotta. Kurt made rice macaroni salad with all sorts of stuff. It was all very good, but I felt hungry not too long afterwards. I think it was the lack of protein.
Tonight we had corn tacos. I made refried beans (which is what those chunks that look like steak are). There was also some vegetables on top (including some broccoli that was close to the edge and needing to be used), and cheese. We’ve done corn tortillas before; we even have a press that was given to us. They never seem to work for us though. I’m suspecting that we’re using the wrong flour. They are always super crumbly and hard to work with before they’re cooked and then very prone to breakage afterwards. We use corn flour. If you know the answer to this quagmire, please share your knowledge, I would love to be able to make these with the frustration we’ve experienced so far! Otherwise, they were delicious and I actually stayed full.
In other news, a giant flock of seagulls just swarmed in and landed in my front yard. It seriously sounded like I was aboard a mid-ocean fishing boat for a while. I tried to get a picture but the cats escaped though the door, hoping to try their hand at real hunting without the window in the way. I wonder if seagulls like leftover gluten-free pancakes?
I realized something today. I’m attempting this whole gluten free thing in the opposite manner as I usually would do something. I’ve been reading more and more about why some people believe gluten isn’t great for people and I’ve thought for quite a while that wheat doesn’t agree with me (I get a rash from flour touching my skin). Plus I know bran makes me REALLY sick. However, I haven’t really done any thorough research. I decided to do a gluten free month in the fall, and to do a trail run this week. In the past I’ve always researched things online and in books before jumping in. Well see how this new approach goes.
Judging by today, not great. After I went shopping and bought all my new exciting ingredients I decided to make pancakes. I googled ‘gluten free pancakes’, browsed though a few recipes and came to a conclusion. People who don’t eat wheat generally also seem to be vegans who only use non-sugar sweeteners that I’ve never seen for sale in a grocery store. I was really just hoping for recipes that I could read through quickly and put into action, instead I was sitting here looking through and saying, “Okay, the ground flax in a substitute for the eggs, the non dairy, non sweetened powdered milk powder is a substitute for milk…” and on and on. That did not make things easy. Plus, I quickly found gaps in both my knowledge and my grocery list. Xanthan gum came up a lot. I asked Kurt (he’s a science teacher) what the heck the purpose of this was. He told me it was a thickener because wheat thickens liquids naturally and other flours don’t. I quickly saw this is action.
I decided to just go for it with the pancakes. I mixed milk and eggs and vanilla. Then I created a combo of flours that I though sounded great. I dumped it in and whisked, and whisked, and whisked. It was as if I hadn’t put the flour in. I didn’t want to add more potato starch because I had only bought a little bag so I threw in some corn starch (I had seen this mentioned in one of the recipes). The mixture got a little lumpy, but that was the only effect. I decided, again, to just go for it. I heated up a pan and dumped in some flour juice. Strangely, it somehow worked. Of course I had to keep stirring the ‘batter’ before I poured any out because the bottom would turn into that magic mud you make with corn starch and water, and the pan had to be really hot, but they tasted decent. They were similar to Finnish pancakes.
They were better with peanut butter than maple syrup though, the syrup just seemed to make it more obvious that they didn’t taste or have the texture or appearance of regular pancakes. I won’t put a recipe because I’m going to try again. Maybe if I keep looking I can find almond flour, which doesn’t seem to require the xantan. If I can make good pancakes I might just be able to make it through the month!
Today I walked over to the nearest bulk store and grocery store, just to see what kind of gluten-free options they offered since I’ve decided to go gluten-free for a week. I found quite a big variety of stuff at the bulk store. I was shocked at the packaged stuff though. It was about 6 times the price as the conventional product it was replacing. There is no way people would be able to live off of those kinds on products. The ‘all purpose’ flour mix was also quite expensive, a little under 70 cents per hundred grams. The flours I bought: corn flour, brown rice flour and white rice flour were all 33 cents per hundred grams. I also bought potato starch and some brown rice spaghetti.
At the grocery store I checked out the organic aisle and found some stuff, but again it was pretty expensive. I got some cereal, but then for the crackers I wanted I headed over to the regular cracker section. I found a few things. I found a few varieties of rice crackers, though they did say ‘may contain wheat’. Because I don’t think I have a hardcore wheat allergy I really didn’t worry about this. I also decided to just stick with regular oatmeal because from what I’ve read the only problem with it is that there may be trace amounts of wheat in it. I’m not really worried about that. Plus the gluten free oatmeal I found was 5 bucks a bag! I really don’t eat enough of the stuff to warrant that.
So, I will let you know how it all goes! I won’t lie, I’m slightly worried.
Starting Monday I’m going to try to eat gluten-free for a week. I realize a week really isn’t anything to write home about, and I plan to try to go for a month later, but I eat a ton of gluteny stuff so I thought a week would be good to try it out and see what I would need to do to make a month possible. The reason I’m doing this is because I’ve had a lot of digestion problems my whole life and there is a history of celiac disease in my family. Also, gluten-free seems to be really in right now, so I thought I would give it a shot. I found a really good list of things you can eat here:
So, tomorrow I’m going to go get some corn flour and rice crackers and see if I can track down gluten-free oatmeal.
A couple of days ago I came home to find this on the door:
I’ve never thought of myself as being particularly scared of snakes, however, things quickly change with the possibility of one slithering freely through your house. The rest of the day I was very careful of where I stepped and tried to stay away from areas that seemed like somewhere a snake would like to hide. I checked the bed very thoroughly before getting into it. I also kept a very close eye on the cats. That night I barely slept; I kept imagining finding this thing somewhere in the house. Luckily, we still haven’t seen it and Kurt has convinced me mostly that it would have been able to get from the neighbour’s apartment into ours. I just thought I would share this situation because I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and perhaps funny if you weren’t living it.
This week and last week have been pretty stressful. Homer (the cat) has been sick so we’ve been going to the vet several times a week for fluids. Now we’re on to 4 times daily meds which are a delight, let me tell you. It’s really hard hearing all the words the vet bats out like they’re nothing. They seem to like to list all possibilities, even if they are remote. Anyways, the little guy seems to be on the mend right now. So in celebration yesterday was cheesecake day. I saw cream cheese on sale and figured I’d make something that’s been sitting on my Pinterest board for a few weeks.
It promised to be delicious and easy. Well, delicious it was. Easy, nowhere close. It would probably be a little easier if you had store-bought dulce de leche as they had in the recipe, but I have no idea where to get that and I just happened to have a can of sweeten condensed milk sitting in my cupboard with no plans. I once saw Michael Smith make dulce de leche simply by placing a can of condensed milk in a pot of simmering water for a while. It looked so easy, but since I know that when you heat up a can all the lovely harmful chemicals from the lining are seeping into you food (it even said not to do this on the side of the can), I decided to go a different route. I googled it. The process was to dump the milk into a bowl and microwave for specific times and intervals, one being 16 minutes. I set Kurt to making the crust at the same time. Despite a watchful eye it boiled over (sooooo sticky). Eventually it tasted carmelly, though it never changed to the colour in the picture with the instruction. So, that was 20 minutes spent just creating an ingredient. The rest was easy, until it came to melting the caramels. Maybe I used the wrong kind. I just used the cube, clear wrapped ones, but they didn’t melt very well. There were definite hard lumps. Finally it was assembled and chilled.
Even to the bitter end this thing caused trouble: it is almost impossible to get out of the pan. I think making it in a springform would have helped, but then you wouldn’t be able to have smaller pieces, which is necessary as this thing is sweet. I just followed the directions and used a brownie pan. So, in closing, the reward for my stressful week turned out to be annoyingly stressful. I think I will eat out tonight :S .