Monday, April 28, 2008


I decided to try a new bread recipe last night. I've been anxious to try millet flour. I have to be careful to try new ingredients one at a time. It's easier to figure out what I react to.

First I had to find a recipe with no milk. Found one! Replaced the xanthan gum with gelatin. I debated with myself about adding molasses, since that was a second new ingredient. I decided to add it.

The perfectly crusted loaf came out of the oven about 10:00 last night. It smelled great! It tasted so good with butter, that I had to try a slice with peanut butter and honey. I was out of my standard peanut butter (Kroger Natural, creamy) so I tried my new jar of Smuckers Natural. Oops! That was the third new item.

The suspects. Hmmm. Who looks guilty?

By the time I took my bath about 11:00, I noticed my lips and eyes were puffy. And there were three suspects. This is why I first decided to try new ingredients one at a time. It's easier in the long run.

I'd also worked in the garden all afternoon and evening. I'd handled potting soil and bone meal. I could be reacting to one of those.

The bread was beautiful. It tasted fabulous right out of the oven. The texture is good, not as crumbly as the standard "lame porridge bread" that I usually eat. So I've decided to share the recipe.

Kay's Millet Bread
I mixed these dry ingredients in the bowl of my stand mixer:

1 C millet flour
1 C brown rice flour
1/2 C potato flour
1/2 C tapioca flour
1/4 C rice bran
1 T (1 packet) unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 t salt

In a small bowl I combined 1/2 C warm water, 1 T sugar and 1 packet of yeast (I used Red Star Rapid Rise)

In my glass 2-cup measuring cup I combined:

3 eggs
1 C warm water
2 t cider vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T molasses
2 T sugar

When the yeast was bubbly, I added all the wet ingredients to the dry and beat it on medium speed (with the paddle attachment) for about 5 minutes.

I put the dough into a greased and floured loaf pan, covered it with oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise about 30 minutes. The dough had risen to the top of the pan. I baked it at 350 for 50 minutes.

If you can use xanthan gum, add 2 1/2 t with your dry ingredients.
If you can't use eggs, use Ener-G egg replacer, and warm your wet ingredients in the microwave until warm to the touch.
You can use cornstarch instead of tapioca flour.

I'll do a more lab-like trial the next time I bake this bread. It's really good, and I'd like to eat it daily. I'll try honey in place of molasses, and I'll just have one slice with butter, for starters.

In other news, some friends took a field trip to a horse farm for "garden nutrients" over the weekend. I understand they brought home enough to share with me! I'm thrilled! I spent the weekend transplanting my tomato plants into larger pots, cleaning out some garden space, and finding a new battery for my ancient John Deere riding mower. It's running again. My lawn looked like green velvet right after mowing. By morning it was dotted with dandelions again.

I also planted seeds in pots for my zucchini (four kinds!) vining squash (hubbard, cucuzzi and tromboncino this year) cucumbers (County Fair and Calypso, both supposedly wilt-resistant) and pole beans (scarlet runner and Kentucky wonder.) I'll leave the pots outside during the warms days and nights, but I can bring them inside on cold nights. I look forward to planting everything in real dirt in a couple of weeks. I wait until after my black raspberries bloom. That will mean we've had our last frost.

The bright spot in my weekend was discovering a tiny frog has taken up residence in my pond. I've seen his nose and eyes peeking out from under a floating oak leaf. And I've heard him "ker-plunk" into the water from the rocks four times as I walked by. Hee hee! I'll post more on my frog situation soon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dinner from the back yard

I did, indeed, saute my first asparagus spears with portabello mushrooms and onions. And my bread came out of the oven just as the steak was hitting my plate. Simply delicious! I even pulled out the "grandma dishes," to remind me of lots of great Sunday dinners at her house.

Just Peachy

Hope comes in many forms. A sunrise, a new kitten, a shoe sale. And peach blossoms!

A tornado five years ago changed my landscape dramatically. The sixty foot evergreens that lined the back of my property were snapped in half. They were the backdrop for my idyllic view from the dining room table, and from the kitchen counter where I spend most of my time. I waited nearly a year to remove their remains. Their absence was a big shock to the little ecosystem on the north side of my yard. The redbud trees they had protected died. The hostas and oak leaf hydranges baked in the sun. Weeds and cattails moved in.

I looked at the bare space for a year, then another year. I couldn't seem to conjure a vision of the future of this damaged space. The edible landscaper in me finally had a lightbulb moment. It happened when I was shopping at the little fruit market near my house. I opened the door and the smell of fresh peaches beckoned me inside. I wanted all the baskets of peaches. Blink! The lightbulb over my head lit up.

So I bought a couple of peach trees and nursed them through that summer's drought. The next spring, only one sprouted leaves. I checked the other daily for signs of life. Nope. Still dead. I checked it again this morning. Still dead. But in its third season, the survivor has bloomed! There's a chance I might pick a fresh peach in my own back yard. I think it's time to replace the dead one. Now I want lots of peaches.

My hopeful peach blossoms.

The cherry tree looks even more hopeful!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Take heart!

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The bleeding hearts bloom early in my yard. Sometimes, like now, they bloom on one of the first warm days, even though freezing temperatures are in the forecast for next week. They let me know it's okay to welcome Spring, even though Winter might make a comeback.
Celebrate the very first minutes of the new season. Take heart!
I picked three more asparagus spears yesterday. I have six in the crisper drawer now. The bit of overnight rain will bring more today. So guess what I'll be having for dinner tonight! I think I'll saute them with onions and mushrooms and grill my first steak of the season. Life is good!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Look who's here! It's my first asparagus spear!

I inherited my asparagus garden from my home's previous owner. Patrice never ate any of the asparagus. The spears grow into tall ferns if you don't pick them. Patrice liked the ferns. When mature, the ferns add structure to the myrtle beds below them. The myrtle camouflages the spears, so some of them get a little too tall before I see them, and eat them. I eat most of the asparagus spears, and just leave the very thin ones to go to fern. They are so fresh and tender that I always eat a couple of them raw, as I walk back to the house.

I've lived in this house and worked these gardens for eight years now. I know where to look for the first asparagus spears. On a hot day, I can almost watch them grow. They can pop up quickly in the heat.

Patrice created beautiful big flower gardens, that wind around the perimeter of my big yard in the woods. I live in a secret neighborhood. It takes me 12 minutes to get to the center of Indianapolis from my driveway. But my street is secluded. We all get our water from wells. We have corn and soybean fields, lots of shade trees, woods, raccoons, groundhogs (grrrr!) a couple of deer and one coyote. The coyote is living in the woods about a half mile from my house. I can tell when he's living nearer. My rabbit population drops dramatically. I have lots of rabbits just now.

I prefer he live away just now. I have two geriatric cats. Milo is 16 years old, deaf and arthritic. Daddy Cat is at least ten, probably older, and has very few teeth. So I want my boys to be safe in the yard. We like it best when we are all outside together.

I like flowers, but I also like to grow my own food. So I have added a lot of edibles to the landscape. And I have three beds just for vegetables. I've planted black currants, gooseberries and jostaberries. I've let the wild black raspberries invade one edge of flower garden. I have my first blooms ever on the little peach tree. I have an old cherry tree that was broken down to a nub by a tornado that flattened my neighborhood five years ago. It has recovered nicely, and it is full of buds. The birds usually let me pick "my half" of the cherries. As long as there are mulberries available in the woods, I get good berry crops. One year there were no mulberries. The birds ate all my fruit. Most years there is enough for all of us.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I used to entertain frequently. I had lots of dinner parties. Big ones. Big, fun food. Lots of guests. Food issues brought that to an aburpt end. But I miss everyone, and I'm tired of eating alone. So I had my first dinner guests of 2008 last Sunday. Just two guests, for starters. I made a meal that I could eat and I thought they would enjoy. It was a hit! The gravy was a little iffy, but it was my first ever gluten free gravy.

My menu was baked chicken, garlic mashed potatoes with arrowroot gravy, sauteed zucchini and onions with garlic, and apple crisp for dessert with Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream.

I got to use garlic chives from my garden, marking my first meal of the year with fresh homegrown ingredients. I love eating foods I grow, and growing foods I eat!

Little Pitfalls

The backs of my hands have been raw and scaly for months. I've been careful to wear gloves when handling all foods at work. The kitchen at the sorority house is full of wheat. So I even wear gloves for cleaning up, even though the Board of Health doesn't require it. I was just doing that for my own protection.

But my hands were getting worse and worse. They've been really bad for about four months.


That's about the time I discovered new "safe" gloves and ordered some at work. I can't use latex or any gloves with powder inside. The powder is cornstarch. Eeeek! So I was happy to find FoodHandler TacTix powder free synthetic gloves. I went to their website to try to discover what these gloves are really made of. They won't tell me their ingredients, but there's a disclaimer at the bottom of the listing that says: "These gloves have been known to cause allergic skin reactions."

I've had three days off work, and the red patches are healing. I'll just rely on frequent hand-washing until the end of the school year. Thankfully, that's only a couple of weeks away.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Signs of spring are popping up all over my yard!

I cook for sorority girls at Butler University. Lots of organizations have fund-raising dinners. The girls vote as a chapter whether to attend. If they vote to attend, I don't have to cook supper. Since the weather just warmed up, invitations abound. I get three suppers off next week! I love these bonus days off in the spring and fall.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hi there!

Since my wheat-eating friends were getting bored with gluten free posts, I decided to set up this blog for sharing stories and recipes with my gluten free buddies. It's time. The gluten free, corn free, soy free part of my life is just that, a part. It's not my whole life anymore. I made the big lifestyle change January 1, 2008. I'm still evolving, figuring out what I can eat and what I should avoid. But life goes on, and I refuse to let what I eat define who I am. I want the other parts of my life back. So I hope this blog helps me celebrate my renewed health. Now that I'm feeling stronger, I'd like to get back to gardening, quilting, reading and writing.

When I first considered writing a gluten free blog, my title would have been: "Staff of Life, My Ass!" I was confused and sick and struggling. I found many helpful gluten free blogs that guided me through the first steps of my transition. I didn't understand why everyone else sounded so cheerful. I was having a hard time. I cried in the soup aisle at the grocery store after reading soup labels for half an hour. There was not one soup I could eat. I mourned the loss of Hellmans mayonnaise, made with forbidden soybean oil. I looked longingly at drive thru windows as I passed in my car. I was in the "Pizza and Beer" league at the bowling alley. It was torture! I ate homemade chicken and rice soup with rice crackers for nearly every meal.

With improved health came one little spark of enthusiasm, then another. I found a bread recipe that worked for me. Then I made apple crisp. I made a vinaigrette salad dressing that was quite tasty. I found a bacon with no additives. I became better acquainted with organic foods. I discovered sorghum beer and the owner of my favorite bar added it to his beer selections immediately! I bought my own copy of Gluten Free Girl. Bless your heart, Shauna! For going before me and being my guide.

Little by little, my "new" life has become just my life. I have to take a detour now and then, but I'm on the right path.

I hope you'll come along and enjoy the journey with me. This site is under construction, so bear with me and check back often.