Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gluten Free Sourdough

WARNING: This bread is a work in progress. 

I  have the best childhood memories of homemade bread. Even better was the homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls! I would "help" my mom mix, kneed, and of course, served as quality control. It reminds me of Christmas and family and FROSTING.

I hit my early 20's and found out I was a Celiac. *SOB* No more amazing bread.

It has been my mission for years to figure out how to do a good sourdough bread that is gluten free and doesn't taste like sand/cardboard/icky things. Then I heard about a study out of Italy and it renewed my interest in figuring this out, more on this in a moment!

A long time ago, bread made this way wasn't considered anything special, it was just...bread. The woman of the house would feed a starter, remove some and mix with salt and flour and water, let it raise for a day or longer, then bake. Repeat daily. Bread took TIME, and science now tells us that it was actually better for us!

Commercial breads, even ones labeled "sourdough" are no longer made this way. It takes too much time and work, they use a powdered yeast and add vinegar or another acid to make it "sour". When bread is left for a "long rise" the yeasts break down the gluten and make easy for out bodies to digest. Think yogurt, its kinda the same thing. Grains are hard on our bellies (even non-celiacs) and sourdough makes them good for you!

Back to the Italy study. Researchers found a bunch of celiacs, broke them into 3 groups and gave group one "normal" bread, group two a lightly soured bread, and group three a long rise version of sourdough. Several out of group one didn't last the whole month long study, my belly hurts just thinking about it. Group two fared a little better. The best news? Group three showed no effect from the bread, the gluten was broken down and changed enough their bodies didn't react.

So back to the drawing board. Round one, I went with gluten free grains, but in the future I am going to try REAL WHEAT!

First you must start with a sourdough starter. I have some I am happy to share! It is my moms, started with potato flakes, sugar, yeast, and water.  Let me know if you want some!

Here is some help

I make 3 loaves at a time, because it is kind of a pain and I would rather make my kitchen a mess only once a week. And this bread freezes well.

Sourdough GF Bread
  1. Feed your starter. Let set for 12 hours. Remove the portion you need (mine calls for 1 Cup) 
  2. Make your dough. I fed my starter in the morning, made the dough that evening. See recipe below.
  3.  Raise dough in your bowl overnight in a warm, damp place. I put mine on "proof" in the oven with a bowl of water next to it and wet towel over the top.
  4. Punch down dough the next morning. Toss it back in your mixer and add 1/2 c. warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon quick rise yeast. Mix very well (2+ minutes)
  5. Place dough in 3 bread pans. Let rise until doubled, mine took a bit over an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 425 with a bowl of water in the oven. When bread is risen, put in oven. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then drop the temp to 350 for another 20-30.
  7. Bread is done when it is brown and has a hollow "thump".

Bread Recipe
6 c. flour (2 c. tapioca starch, 2 c. oat, 1 c. brown rice, 1 c. garbanzo flour)
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. good oil (think olive or coconut)
1 t. salt
1 c. starter
1/2 T. xanthan

Later: Proof
1/2 c. hot water
1 T. quick rise yeast
dash of sugar

In your stand mixer, add 2 cups of tapioca starch. Turn on low and slowly pour in boiling water. As it mixes it should be stringy and gummy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix very well. Let rise overnight (or 12 hours). Toss back into mixer with proofed yeast and mix well. Shape and place into pans. Rise. Bake. Butter. Enjoy!

Like I have said, this is a work in progress. This batch turned out very tasty, but I am really excited to try making a REAL and WHEAT bread. REAL sourdough doesn't use packaged yeast, but my GF flour needs the help. 

If anyone tries it, let me know how it works!


Can I tell you a secret? Well, its only kinda a secret to those who know me.

I am a half-ass homeschooler.

This isn't because half-ass is what I am aiming for, its just that we all seem to like to do other things MORE. Things like going to the pumpkin patch or Littleton Historic Farm, things like the museum and the zoo, even things like going for a walk with my 90+ year old grandmother.

We are aiming for EPIC childhood with a passable education.

Every state is different, and here in Colorado, we are required to do testing or teacher review every other year starting in grade 3. I am not against accountability, I think testing gives us so idea of where the gaps lay in our children knowledge.

Testing makes me crazy nervous.

See, I am ok with our kids learning what they need to know when they need to know it. I also know that much of the knowledge my children posses is not that kind they test for; things like what chickens eat, how to care for foster kittens, the colors to mix to get the perfect shade of brown for the pony, how to make gluten free cookies...

This year we did testing for all the kids, even though it isn't required for all of them. Despite the fact that my children have never taken that style of test (all on a computer) they seemed to manage ok (except for Jamison, who broke down in tears because he had never used a mouse)

Know what? My kids all tested within grade level, totally average.

I am stoked. Maybe not all parents hear "average" and get excited, but I think average is perfectly fine for the amount of effort we put into actually school stuff. I know that test doesn't tell me how kind, helpful, grace-filled, curious, enthusiastic, and loving my children are. It doesn't measure how good of friend they are, how good they are at art and music, and it doesn't measure compassion. At the end of the day, I am much more concerned with raising well rounded humans than I am on raising children who do well at a test where someone else decided what is important.

Of course, you can be all of the above AND really good at school tests. Maybe I will end up raising a kid like that too. At the end of the day, I am really very happy with average.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

School Day BLUES

Image result for mr popper's penguins book

Most days we spend about 4 hours total doing school-ish stuff. Each kid has a notebook of core subjects (math, reading, writing, language arts, science, geography) and we read Story of the World with cookies at bed time for our history. We also watch all kinds of documentary's and shows like Cupcake Wars and Good Eats. School days start around 10 (because mornings suck) and there is usually not too much kvetching.

Until there is. Griping, that is. It starts small, building over the weeks until I hate calling them all to the table for school because I know bad attitudes are coming along.

It usually takes a week or two of this before I remember that one of the reasons we homeschool our kids and so we can enjoy learning together. When that stops happening it is usually because I have managed to suck ALL the fun out of learning and made home school look way to much like "real school". I can be a little slow on the uptake.

We were in the grumpy phase of school last week and it was time for a change. This week we did a unit study on the book Mr Poppers Penguins. It was awesome. We had fun together, we learned, we enjoyed a great story, and it was everything I started homeschooling for in the first place!

We read how the Popper family was short on money for groceries and used the adds to make menus, adding up the cost for a day, week and year of food. We practiced writing letters to people like Mr. Popper did to Admiral Drake. We each chose a different type of penguin to become experts on and figured out what kind of penguin was in the book. We used maps to find out where penguins live, what they eat and how they nest. We wrote newspaper articles about the Popper family, asking who, what, when, where and why questions. We used venn diagrams to see how all they types of penguins were alike. We took a field trip to the museum to see the penguin dioramas. We read countless penguin books and did a ton of penguin crafts!

This week reminded me why I love to homeschool my kids. Its fun! It also reminded me that a big part of parenting is figuring out when something STOPS working and being flexible enough to make a change. Maybe I will remember quicker next time learning has stopped being fun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is love?

"Baby, don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more..."

Maybe the rest of the world doesn't think in song lyrics, but I do.

Valentines Day. The haters call it the "Halmark Holiday" and while I am usually the first to be skeptical about all the things, this is a holiday I enjoy. Actually, I believe we should have MORE days that focus on love and making other people feel special.

My kids love Valentines day. Maybe it it the cherry coffee cake cut into heart shapes (a tradition I have continued from my mother) or the little boxes of chocolates or the little gifts from grandparents. It could be the party at school and the extra games and treats. But I chose to believe its more than that.

My kids are good at loving. Most kids are. Us adults have all these ideas about the "right" way to love someone, about the "correct" path to romance. Kids just like to love. My kiddos have been creating handmade Valentines for their family and friends for the past several weeks. My oldest wrote something she loved about each of us, along with a picture she thought we would enjoy, in each card. On Valentines day we delivered homemade cookies and card to friends and neighbors, with a special focus on those who might feel extra alone.

I got my love spicy almonds and dark chocolate and spent the day texting him poorly written, naughty poetry. He spent a bunch of time making me a book with pictures and things he loved about me. We ate an amazing dinner as a family, even Grandma joined in.

I love love. I love reasons to celebrate people I love. I learn (daily sometimes!) from my children on how to love better, richer, and more authentically.  They are never shy to ask to be snuggled, or to say they need kisses and hugs. They are willing to be the first to love, embracing the vulnerability it takes to toss your heart at someone elses feet and hope for the best. When I grow up, I want to be like that. I want to be brave in my love, I want to be willing to ask for love and give it with no strings attached.

So here is to the haters, I won't wish you a happy valentines day, I will only say that I hope you took the time to truly love somebody and be loved in return.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mama Fail

I have anxiety about homeschooling. I have been told by public school parents it isn't any less stressful to send a kid to school that to school them yourself and I have to agree. We all wonder "am I doing enough" or "is my kid really learning what they need to know?".

Some day, most even, I feel like we are doing pretty good. My kids all learn differently and are good at different thing and we do our best to encourage them to take on hard tasks with integrity even if they will never be the very best.

Sometimes I am pretty sure I suck at all the things, schooling my children included.

This is a story of a big, fat fail.

Addilyn has always been a reluctant reader. Learning to read takes focus, which comes hard for her. It also takes attention to detail (n is a different letter than m) which isn't her strong suit. She has performed at grade level-ish, but has no love for reading, which KILLS me. This year she has struggled. As a 3ed grader, she is beyond "reader" style books and firmly in the chapter book camp. It hasn't gone well.

The other day, after frustration and tears on both our parts, I sat down for a pow-wow and trouble shoot session with the hubby. We came to 2 conclusions: the first is Addilyn had to up her game and stop doing half-ass work and the second was that we needed to go back to basics and figure out what the kid had missed that kept her from progressing.

The next day we told Addilyn our plan of attack, she was on board and promised to work hard. We started with sight words flash cards. We did the kindergarten ones, the first grade ones, the second grade ones....

To my great surprise, she didn't struggle with a one. She knew them all, most without sounding out, and the ones that stumped her she decoded. I asked her why she did so well on the flash cards but struggled with the book we were reading.

Her, "The cards are EASY, I can see them"

Me, " can't SEE the words in the books?!"

Her, "No, the words are small in the chapter books and the letters look alike"


Off to the eye doctor, who confirmed the child needed reading glasses. Off to the "therapist" (some people call it the liquor store) for the crappy mama who didn't realize that the kid didn't have a READING problem, she had a SEEING problem. Oy vey.

We now have some catching up to do. Not being able to see her work has lead to lousy handwriting and an even lousy-er attitude about reading. At least now she can see the flipin' words.