Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bean at 20 months

Dear Bean,

As I right this, you have been sent to bed early for being generally bratty and refusing to even try anything on your dinner plate besides a small piece of gluten-free bread.

It’s just been one of those days. We have a lot of them lately.

There are also lots of fun days and new discoveries. Today you started naming animals by their actual names instead of the sound they make.

You love being outside and doing the garden with me. Every morning when I open up the blinds you ask to go outside. Most of the time I consent. These are days filled with dirt in your hair and under your finger nails along with a healthy layer of it on your clothes and sometimes on me as well.

I love how affectionate you have been lately and even the bit of clinginess you have exhibited during your current stranger-danger phase that you are in. You give lots of hugs and kisses when we ask for them. You also give them to all your babies and stuffed animals and your “Bubba”. You love to sit on our laps and have even started cuddling in the morning before I’m completely up.

Despite your fears when it comes to most adults, you have lots of little buddies that you talk about all the time. There’s Will, your eldest cousin, cousin Avory, and Emma so far. Will happens to be your current favorite, you guys gave me some pretty sweet Beatles concerts the last couple weeks.

You are and always will be my sweet baby girl, even on days like today where you throw a fit at dinner.



Filed under Family

Delayed Fermentation Gluten-Free Millet Oatmeal Bread

I recently checked out Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads from our library because I have been so frustrated trying out different bread recipes in the hopes of baking my own bread that tastes as good as what I can buy in the store or at a bakery. While I haven’t had any horrible flops like a completely unrisen loaf or burned one, it just hasn’t been up to the level of what I want that tastes as good.

The book is pretty overwhelming and full of a lot of information on grains, the chemistry and theories behind baking, and even some of the recipes are quite complicated. I had hoped to take the book home from the library and dive right in, but that first day upon cracking it open straight to the recipe section I looked at it for a minute then gave up and decided to try the much simplier recipes found in the Panera Bread Book I had also checked out. Big fail there. I wound up with two more dense loaves of whole wheat bread.

So, I took the lesson from the failure and decided that there really wasn’t a quick and easy way around this. If I want to bake good bread, I am going to have to do it the right way and it is going to to take more time. So I studied the book, had my mind boggled a bit and came to a better understanding of how the whole thing works.

I’m glad I did because with what I learned I was able to apply the theory to gluten-free baking and it makes such a huge difference in the end product.

Look at all those fluffy air pockets and the great big rise on that GLUTEN-FREE bread! Can you believe it?

So, if you have to be gluten-free and you are willing to take the extra time, I highly recommend this bread. It cobbles together what is so far my favorite GF bread recipe with Reinhart’s delayed fermentation method.

Day 1: Flour mix, soaker and biga
(See the fact that this recipe is broken out by days, probably scares you right off the bat, but don’t let it. A little work the first day and a little work the second day produces big results, trust me)

Flour mix
I’ll admit this flour combination is taken straight from Gluten-Free Mommy’s Millet Oatmeal Bread recipe.

In the bowl of your stand mixer sift together the following ingredients and use the whisk attachment to combine them:
-1 cup brown rice flour
-1/2 cup certified gluten free oat flour
-3/4 cup millet flour
-1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
-1/3 cup arrowroot starch (you can substitute cornstarch)
-1/3 cup sweet rice flour
-1/4 cup flax seed meal
-1 tbsp xanthan gum
-3 tbsp brown sugar

Transfer the flour mixture to another bowl to get the mixer bowl ready for making your soaker.

-1 3/4 cups (8oz or 227g) flour mixture
-1/2 tsp (.14oz or 4g) salt
-3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (7oz or 198g) milk, buttermilk, yogurt or almond milk

Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in your mixer using the dough hook attachment for 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.

Transfer to another bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. Rinse out your mixer bowl to prepare for making the biga. You need to rinse it because salt kills yeast and you don’t want any salt residue left in the bowl which will kill the yeast in the biga.

-1 3/4 cups (8oz or 227g) flour mixture
-1/4 tsp (.03oz or 1g) active dry yeast
-3/4 cup (6oz or 170g) filtered or spring water at room temperature

Dissolve the yeast in the water.

Mix all of the biga ingredients together in your mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment. Make sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated, at least 2 minutes.

Transfer to another bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.

You will have some of the flour mixture leftover. Do not discard it, it will be used the next day.

Day 2: Final dough and baking
Using a metal pastry scraper, chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces each. Place the pieces in the bowl of your stand mixer alternating between soaker and biga pieces (in other words, you don’t want all the soaker pieces on the bottom of the bowl and all the biga pieces on the top) and sprinkling 2 tsp of active dry yeast in between all the pieces (if you use the packets of yeast, you will use 1/4 tsp in in the biga and the remainder of the packet in the final dough).

Add the following additional ingredients to the bowl:
-remainder of flour mixture
-5/8 tsp salt
-2 1/4 tbsp (1.5oz or 42.5g) honey
-1 tbsp butter or butter substitute, melted

Using the dough hook attachment, mix on slow speed for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Bring the speed up to medium-low, occasionally scraping down the bowl for 2-3 minutes until the pre-doughs become cohesive and assimilated into each other with other ingredients.

Dust a work surface with the gluten-free flour of your choice (I prefer oat because it is usually pretty fine and soft whereas the brown rice tends to be grainy), then toss the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute and make any final flour or water adjustments. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl, roling to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until it is about 1 1/2 times the original size.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a loaf pan shape then place in a greased loaf pan. Score the dough and let rise at room temperature for about an hour until it is 1 1/2 times its original size.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the pan in the oven and reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate 180° and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when thumped and registers at least 195°F in the center.

Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool at least 1 hour before cutting to serve (I know this is hard, but it helps the loaf retain moisture and continues the chemistry process, so resist tempation and don’t cut it!).


Filed under Gourmet Lisa

Things I love right now…

Newborn-sized old man sweater I knit for Sprout that he outgrew very quickly and now doubles as a cute little cropped shrug for Bean.

Eczema wonder lotion. Put some on Bean around noon on Friday after our doctor’s appointment and her eczema was all cleared up that afternoon. It got a little red again on Saturday, but another application and she was fine.

Butter crock that I got this morning at Sur La Table.

Honey pot, also from Sur La Table (I actually went there to get a digital food scale for my bread baking and walked out with those two lovelies).

Cutest ceramic measuring spoons ever, just $2.99 from Cost Plus.

New cookbooks for Mother’s Day, thank you Mom and Stephen.

Giant lemons and oranges from my in-laws’ back yard.

Bean’s very own gardening tools and bag, thank you Dad.

And a certain 4 month old…

…who manages to be this happy despite those two little teeth you see coming up on the bottom.


Filed under Family, Ramblings

I just want to cry because I care.

I think I care too much.

Really I do.

I started reading The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien and I am about halfway through. The book isn’t necessarily anything new for me. It’s all stuff I knew by reading other books or watching Food Inc. I knew that our government, particularly when it comes to the food regulatory agencies, was corrupt and that a revolving door for former industry executives exists and major conflicts of interest exist.

I guess I just didn’t connect the dots into making it human. Putting a human face on the matter. Maybe it’s because O’Brien’s story also involves food allergies and that is something that I deal with every day. Maybe it’s because Bean’s been having really awful eczema behind her knees that cracks and oozes puss lately. Maybe it’s because we got food poisoning when we ate at a fairly reputable restaurant this weekend.

I just feel so frustrated and helpless on this matter. Overwhelmed and angry. It’s been all I can think about the last two days or so.

People, children just like my precious two little ones, are getting so sick and harmed because our food system is not safe. And it isn’t safe because the people who are supposed to be keeping it safe aren’t doing their jobs. Instead they are looking out for the corporations.

People like me are having their kids develop food allergies because of pollutants and toxins in our environment, genetically modified foods, factory farming, and overuse of antibiotics in the animals in our food supply as well as in ourselves.

People like me are then told by their pediatricians (not the one I currently go to anymore) that when their kid develops a dairy allergy that the best thing to do is to have them guzzle soy milk instead. Something that is so unhealthful and harmful.

I count myself lucky that six months after I was told this I did my own research and found out that this wasn’t a good idea at all. How many other parents, though, are just following their pediatrician’s advice because they are supposed to be the expert on nutrition and health for children?

Some say personal responsibility is the answer and I should just worry about my own family and make the food decisions I want to make for them and I should be the one to do all the research and own up to what we consume. Yeah, maybe that is partly true.

But for me, I just can’t stop there. I can’t sit by while other people and other people’s children suffer. I care about my friend’s kids. I care about my friends. I care about those that aren’t my friends and their kids. I care about our future. I care about our planet. I care.

So what am I supposed to do now? I want to make a bigger difference than just my own family.


Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting, Politics, Ramblings, Reviews

Bean’s first Rollie Pollie collection

You may not be able to figure this out now when you look at us, but growing up my sisters and I were all a bunch of tomboys. Digging in the dirt, catching frogs, playing in “the forest” (a few trees on the side of our house), riding bikes, building forts with construction site scraps in our backyard, going on hikes in “the foothills” (a grassy slightly hilly area near our house), and climbing trees were all ingrained in my childhood.

Another big thing was rollie pollies. I have no idea why these things were so facinating or why we kept little colonies of them, but we did. As I’ve been pulling out the weeds in our garden the last few days I keep running across them. Bean has been “helping” me with the garden and so I put some rollie pollies in her bucket to see what she would do with them.

Some of you may think I’m weird and definitely not in the running for best mother of a girly girl award when you see these pictures, but for me they are like a flood of memories from my childhood being imparted to her.


Filed under Family, Natural Living, Parenting

Sausage, spinach, and artichokes

When we moved into our house in Bakersfield we got this little welcome package from the builder that included a copy of Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Vol. 9 which is basically a compilation of recipes from 25 cookbooks they thought were the best. One of the books featured is Tyler Florence’s Eat This Book . The way he describes every recipe makes you want to cook. It makes it seems so interesting and fun.

When trying to come up with a not so ordinary use for our CSA box artichokes I came across his recipe for Artichokes with Lemon Sausage and Sage (side note: who needs recipe books anymore when all the chef recipes are on the Food Network website?). This has become one of my favorite recipes so much so that I don’t even really have to look at the recipe to make it, but just in case I do, I even have the page number in the book that it is on memorized (that’s p. 97 for any of you who are curious).

I’ve also gotten comfortable enough with it to tweak it to our likes/dislikes and what we have available or need to use in our CSA box. Last week I made a version using my homemade chicken stock, CSA spinach and artichokes.

For the artichokes:
-1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley
-4 garlic cloves, pressed
-2 bay leaves
-1/4 cup white wine
-1/2 lemon cut into paper-thin slices
-salt and pepper to taste
-4 baby artichokes
-1 cup chicken stock

For the rest of the dish:
-olive oil
-1 package sweet Italian pork sausage
-1 bunch spinach, rinsed and chopped
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, pressed
-1/2 lemon, cut into paper-thin slices
-1/2 cup chicken stock

Place parsley, garlic, bay leaves, wine, lemon slices, salt, pepper, and chicken stock in pot and bring to a boil. Rinse artichokes and trim them. Place artichokes in pot, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Heat olive oil in pan and then add sausages. Cook until brown on both sides and done through. Remove sausages from pan and keep warm. Add more olive oil, onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Stir in chicken stock, spinach and lemon slices. Add artichokes and sausage to the pan to warm and bring all the flavors together. Dish is ready when spinach is slightly wilted.


Filed under Gourmet Lisa

Lets compare.

Bean 15-16 weeks:

At this point she started rolling over and could sit up in the Boppy. She was also starting to notice her toys and play with them.

Sprout 15-16 weeks:

So far he doesn’t do any of that stuff, but he did get his first tooth in…


Filed under Family


I just finished reading Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages and thought I’d share my review here in addition to those of you that are already connected to me on Goodreads because I know there are some of you that aren’t on Goodreads, but would be interested in my thoughts on this book especially in light of the recent food conversations we’ve been having all over blogland.

This book is a good read, but I rated it 4 stars instead of 5 because I was hoping it would cover the topic in more depth. The recipes take up a majority of this book, the history part does not which when you consider the subtitle, “The surprising story of milk through the ages,” I think you would be surprised too. However, even though the majority of the history/background lesson ends on page 72, she talks more in depth about the various dairy products individually like milk, buttermilk, butter, yogurt, etc in the recipe section. The recipe section is really awesome and I want to own this book now just for that (I borrowed it from the library). Even though she didn’t get into the history of milk as much as I wanted her to, I feel that I still learned quite a bit more than I have already researching the topic on the Internet.

Some of the things I learned:
-What she deems the Northwestern Cow Belt (Northern Germany, the Low Countries, northern France, British Isles, southern Scandinavia), is home to the only people that retain the ability to digest lactose into adulthood. However, this small region of fresh milk usage exported their ideas about drinking fresh rather than sour milk all over the world. Later on science figured out that wasn’t such a great idea and that most other people in the world can’t digest fresh milk.
-“Small though they look today, the East Coast operations begun during this era were on a scale that allowed tens of thousands of city dwellers to take up milk drinking as a relatively safe and affordable daily habit–perceived, however, as necessity, not habit. Medical opinion now unanimously held that drinkable unsoured milk was indispensable for children and healthful for everyone else. Doctors did notice that milk seemed to disagree with more people than any other food of equal importance.” (p. 34)
-We’ve bred our cows to be able to produce more milk, but it is lower quality as far as cream and nutrients are concerned. In 1865 a top cow produced 7 gallons of milk a day. In 1975 the record was set at 19 gallons a day. In 1997 that record was broken at 23 gallons a day.
-“The designation “whole,” though legally sanctioned, is misleading inasmuch as the milk has been separated by centrifuge and recombined to an arbitrary standard. In most states it means a mixture of nonfat milk and cream homogenized to a 3.25 percent milkfat content.” (p. 79)
-“Zero was easily attainable through centrifuging, but centrifuged skim milk lacked the flavor-saving smidging of cream that remained in the milk after hand skimming… For a long time the hardest sell remained skim milk, and for good reason: The usual commercial versions are a singularly thin, vapid travesty of decent hand-skimmed milk. But eventually processors hit on the strategem of using dried skim milk solids to add body and selling the result under names like “Skim Milk Plus.” (Despite any promotional malarkey on the label, the real difference between this and plain skim milk is not extra “creaminess” or “richness” but more lactose and casein.)” (p.47)
-“The ogranic dairying business is tremendously concentrated, with the great preponderance of milk coming from three or four very large producers owned by vast agribusiness conglomerates. The biggest facilities are in the Rocky Mountain and West Coast states, and milk regularly travels thousands of miles from there to reach retail shelves throughout the country. As with conventional milk, gigantic farm operations with several thousand cows now dominate the business. The largest farms depend on the same breeding-and-feeding methods as their conventional counterparts, including high-energy rations to increase volume; thrice-daily milking; and as much confinement with as much restriction of access to grazing as the managers can get away with. (The NOSB regulations mention “access to pasture” and to the outdoors generally, without spelling out how much or little.) Milk entering the pool at large organic dairies is separated and homogenized by the same arbitrary numbers games as conventional milk. The milk is also usually ultrapasteurized, the better to transport it across vast distances and permit weeks rather than days between time of milking and time of use. So far, the major organic-dairy producers have managed to cash in on the widespread popular view of pure, simple, pastoral, animal-friendly organic food without acknowledging how little their wares justify the image. In fact, milk is one of the fastest-growing segements of the organic market… But this is one gift horse that really should be looked in the mouth. Why should we support new-style versions of factory farming clad in the airs of moral superiority to factory farming?” (p.59)
-“If you could see and taste the milk of one cow’s, doe’s, ewe’s, or woman’s milking cycle, from the time she stops producing colostrum to the time when the young animal says farewell to nursing, it would be shot through with huge variations. Milk shifts in makeup not only throughout one lactation, but from the beginning to the end of one day. Indeed, the first and last mouthfuls that an infant swallows at a single nursing ordinarily differ in composition (the final dribs and drabs being the highest in fat). And this is to ignore the question of how one individual cow’s, doe’s, ewe’s, or woman’s milk differs from that of others in her species, herd or bridge club.” (p. 62)
-Through the “white magic” experiments she has you do to show the various phases of milk I found out that skim milk has the most lactose and least casein while cream and butter have the most casein and least lactose. I found this extremely interesting! My husband has always said that he thinks he is slightly lactose intolerant, but when one considers that he usually has trouble with cream and butter rather than lower fat percentage milks/yogurts it seems to point to a problem with casein and not lactose. And so I think I may now know where our daughter got her casein allergy issues.

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Filed under Reviews