Thursday, 12 April 2012

Book Review: The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking by Sharon A Kane

Would you believe that a few short weeks ago I had never made sourdough before. Never made a starter, or fed it, or put it in the oven. The complexities of trying to do something like that for gluten free bread was way too complicated for me to figure out myself. But with this book-- The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking by Sharon A. Kane-- I feel like a pro.  This book is great for anyone with a gluten allergy, or any other kind. Having many allergies herself, Sharon has included information for you to tailor the recipes to flours you can digest most easily.

So far I've made two batches of rice and quinoa bread, hearty and delightfully sour.  It's flavor would make an amazing cheese bread if I topped it with some during the baking. I also tried my hand at the foccacia style bread, which is much spongier and would even be interesting as a pizza dough.
 I fully intend to try out every recipe in this book, and I wanted to let anyone interested know about it.

All you need is flour and water kefir. That's what creates a starter. Then it's a brand new pet--feed it two to three times a day for three to four days to get enough for a loaf. I did make a major mistake on my first bread--after mixing the batter I realized it needed six hours to rise, which would have been three in the morning! I did end up getting up early (but later than that) because I was so excited to make my first sourdough. And its worth it.

This book contains everything from loafs, to muffins, to pancakes, to carob bread, to olive loaf, etc etc. There is a lot in here! And you can definitely modify the recipes as she fills you in on the qualities of different kinds of breads and general rules of how to troubleshoot a starter gone awry.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Life As I Know It

Over the past six months I've had to come to terms with my mortality more than I've ever had to before. I don't so much mean fear for my life, as I'm not in anyway near death. But I've never broken a bone, never been in the hospital for long past infancy, and never had anything worse than mono and a very severely bruised foot. A scooter landed on it. (It looked cool)

I had to come to terms that I couldn't just tear through life like I had always done. Go go go grab a bite on the side. Repetitive movements caught up with me for the very first time. I lost my kid rubber. You know that stuff that lets kids bounce around like they just ate a bag of gummibears, knocking heads, but they still don't really hurt themselves? Yup that. I lost that.

Basically I found myself unwell on the cusp of starting a very physical career. I sought an answer that didn't involve medications. I researched on my own, talked to my doctor, herbalists, acupuncturists, and people all around me who might have knowledge to share. I turned to herbs, whole foods, a diet which spelled out for me that what was included was just as important as what wasn't. Those answers for me (and everyone is different) really shook the foundations of my lifestyle in a way I am still adjusting to. It was pretty hard to realize that corn, wheat, potatoes, and most sugars are just not in the cards for me at the moment. I do not know if this is a life long adjustment I will need to make, for that I am playing it by ear. 

There are times when I've gotten really sad. It's difficult to go out, a lot of the time it doesn't even feel worth it. There are many restaurants that can only offer me salad without the croutons. But the only way I could get through it to a happy place was to cook. Was to learn. Was to try new things and new recipes and just make this a constant in my life--what are you going to eat next? It has taken me to a place where I feel more in tune with the people who came before me. The people who had to forage the jungle and identify the food among the poisons. When things changed in my life the supermarket became a jungle, every label had to be checked carefully. It might not be life threatening, but it is unpleasant when things slip by my notice.

I've learned how to make kefir, milk and water, to make sourdough starter, bake breads, popovers, muffins and protein bars without sugar or any of my allergies. I know how to get myself in good working order: take my herbs, prepare good foods and watch what I'm doing. Took me months to figure out just how and to learn all the skills I have now.  Major accomplishment. I find myself getting into this rhythm, paying attention to all my starters and these life supporting kefir I've adopted. It kind of feels like the lifestyle I needed, the structure to hold my life together. Boil water, choose herbs, steep, and drink. Do these steps, make something good for you, make something right. It'll be there tomorrow and the next day, and so will you.