Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dear Ritz, I am on to you…

So I post my recipe for almond crackers and my mom says that she misses Ritz since being gluten-free. I do a quick search on the Internet for a recipe and find one that isn’t gluten-free, but would be easy to sub in an all-purpose mix with like Pamela’s or my mix. I pass it along so she can try it out for herself.

And then I can’t get the idea out of my head and decide that I need to try and make these.

This is the recipe I used as a reference point.

My changes were that I used my flour mix and I used Earth Balance since my kids can’t do butter.

I also didn’t have the spiffy little cookie cutter so I used one of the drinking goblets from my daughter’s play kitchen.

So here are my thoughts on the recipe…

-Using the Earth Balance instead of butter, I think I would omit the extra salt in the dough. I think mine came out a bit salty for even my tastes and I tend to like more salt than most.
-Also not sure I like the brushed on melted Earth Balance at the end. I think I like them better without it.
-They definitely are not as flaky as Ritz, but the flavor and texture is still good. I think there is a reason in Europe they refer to crackers as biscuits. Because they really are like thin, dry biscuits. I think if you wanted to create the flaky layers like Ritz has, you’d have to incorporate some biscuit making techniques in the preparation of the dough. Like rolling it all out thin, folding it up on itself and then rolling out again. Like you do with biscuits.
-I think that making the dough in the food processor overworks the dough which doesn’t produce as great a rise at the end. My crackers really didn’t have much of a rise at all, actually. Which is fine. Crackers can be more on the dense side, especially multigrain ones. Still, flaky and fluffy would also be good. So I think if I do this again (maybe), I would make them more like I do when I make biscuits (which is like, hardly ever) and use the pastry cutter.
-While my goblet kind of worked, I think next time I’ll invest in an actual cracker-sized cookie cutter. I spent a lot of time going back over the “cut” marks with a butter knife. It was pretty time consuming.

So there you have it. Maybe this will inspire some of you other gluten-free bakers out there.


Filed under Gourmet Lisa

Gluten-free almond crackers

My kids and my husband are big time snackers. My husband can’t be left next to a bag of chips, crackers, etc. He can eat the entire thing in one sitting. My kids always want a snack even if they just finished eating a whole meal.

There are a couple kinds of gluten-free crackers that we all like, but they both have very distinct, noticeable tastes. One is of sesame and one is onion. Each is fine in certain circumstances, but sometimes you just want a “plain” cracker without a flavor that will overpower whatever it is you are pairing that cracker with.

Enter these.

Gluten-free almond crackers

-1 1/2 cup whole raw almonds
-1 cup Lisa’s Gluten Free Flour Mix
-1 tsp sea salt
-2 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp honey
-4+ tbsp water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Put almonds in food processor and process until finely chopped. You don’t want almond butter or flour, you still want some texture. You can also add in other nuts/seeds (I wanted to do sunflower, but we were out). You can also use pre-chopped nuts/seeds (I am thinking the consistency like you find for an ice cream topping would be right), but I am uncertain about exactly how much you would use since I know that once processed finely they took up less space and so I wound up with less than 1 1/2 cups. The recipe I used for inspiration used a total of 3/4 cup chopped seeds (sesame, chia, hemp, etc), so maybe that would be the right amount?

Combine chopped almonds with remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and add water 1-2 tbsp at a time as you mix until you get a ball of dough. It should be the consistency of wet clay or playdough, but with chunks of almonds in it.

Place ball between two sheets of parchment paper and using a rolling pin roll out very thin, about 1/4-1/8 inch thick. Remove top layer of parchment and transfer to a cookie sheet.

Use a sharp knife to cut/score the dough to the size of crackers you want. Place in oven and bake 20 min. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the sheet then break apart crackers and cool/dry further on a wire rack.

For those wondering, this is the recipe that was my inspiration.


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Lisa’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix

When it comes to gluten-free baking everyone has an opinion about the right combination of flours because no one other grain seems to be able to mimic the elasticity, texture, flavor, etc. of wheat. The Internet is a really great resource for those with Celiac’s, wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. There are tons and tons of websites, blogs, gluten-free stores, cookbooks, and recipes to be found. And behind all of them is an opinion on this subject.

One baker will tell you that millet is a gluten-free bread baker’s dream. Another will say sorghum flour has a great texture. A lot of people are not fans of rice flour because of the grainy texture, which is funny because so many pre-made mixes are mostly made with rice flour (you’d think the makers of these mixes would listen, but I suspect it probably has more to do with the fact that rice is cheap). Certified gluten-free oat flour, I’ve heard numerous times, is the closest thing to wheat. Almond meal is perfect to bake with and produces the fluffiest baked goods. Some prefer to add things like flax seed meal or garbanzo bean flour to their mixes for extra protein and fiber (though just like eating regular garbanzo beans you might want to grab some Beano before enjoying a baked good that contains this flour). These are all things I’ve read on numerous websites and books dedicated to making the gluten-free life a little easier.

It has been nice having all these resources to go to since several family members have discovered varying levels of allergy and intolerance to wheat. Most recently my husband has gone gluten-free and about 6 weeks in now he is definitely noticing some benefits including the loss of 7lbs and a little pooch he’s never been able to get rid of (what some people refer to as “wheat belly”) no matter how hard he worked out or watched what he ate. I still have a stash of a few things I am holding onto and when we eat out I indulge, but for the most part our house is gluten-free now.

So the creative wheels have been turning. I needed a good mix of flours because one of the biggest obstacles, at least for me, to gluten-free baking is having to pull out several different bags of flours and pull a little from each bag. It takes up a lot of space on your counter and in your cupboards and it’s just annoying having to measure out that many ingredients.

The best stuff on the market that most people I know with wheat allergies use is probably Pamela’s mix. Unfortunately, it contains cultured buttermilk so Bean and Sprout can’t have anything that is made with it. I have had some seriously yummy treats baked with that stuff and so it is really a bummer that it won’t work for our family.

I decided today that I would take the opinions that I’ve read plus my own experience with gluten-free baking and try to come up with my very own all purpose mix that could be used as a cup for cup substitute in any recipe calling for flour that I tried. I am finally pretty happy with the result. No grainy textures, no bitter aftertaste, something that is somewhere between whole wheat and white in texture and taste, and a great elasticity in doughs and batter. So here it is, I am throwing my hat in the ring of gluten-free flour combo opinions:

Lisa’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix
-1 cup arrowroot starch/flour
-1 cup sorghum flour
-1 cup millet flour
-1 cup almond meal (I do like the blanched Bob’s Red Mill stuff better than the “Just Almond Meal” from TJ’s)
-1 cup oat flour
-1 cup potato starch
-1 cup sweet rice flour
-3 tbsp xanthan gum

Sift ingredients together (the almond meal and the oat flour had quite a few chunks, so this is important for a smooth end product) into a large bowl then use a wire whisk to combine thoroughly.

This made enough flour for a batch of muffins and a loaf of bread with some leftover. I made a second batch just before I put things away to keep in my big flour jar and have on hand for the next time I feel like baking. That way I can just take out the jar and measure out the amount of flour I need without a big production.

Gluten-free bread dough rising.

The finished loaf. I just found a simple bread recipe that used regular flour and substituted my flour mix.

Strawberry banana muffins using strawberries we got at the farmer’s market yesterday. Again, I just found a strawberry muffin recipe online and used my mix for the flour, a combo of hemp and coconut milk for the milk, and a banana instead of the egg it called for.

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Filed under Family, Gourmet Lisa, Homemade

The dog ate my daughter’s doll…

So, if you have been following this blog for awhile, there has been quite the saga with a certain knitted friend.

Here she is bright and shiny the first day I made her:

Bean wasn’t always thrilled with her, but she did grow to love her.

Isn’t little Bean so cute at a mere 56 weeks (Weeks? God, I was just a little anal, don’t you think? I would totally convert this into the month approximation, but I am lazy and hate math.):

Or how about this one from 15 weeks, look at those chub cheeks:

And then the knitted friend got lost when my husband and Bean spent the day together in Bakersfield. I was kind of upset. But then I made a new and improved version. Bean loved her just the same:

One day Bean fell down in the garden, scraped her knee and needed a band-aid. She decided that her dolly needed one too:

Other than that little boo-boo, things were going fine and dandy for our knitted friend until Thanksgiving when we were staying at my in-laws. Bean misplaced the doll and left her there. My in-law’s Shetland Sheepdog, Bodie, found her.

At Christmas the doll was returned to us. She wasn’t as pretty. As Bean said, “Bodie got my dolly.”

A torn dress:

Mangled and missing pig tail braids:

We talked about the importance of taking care of our things and not leaving them out when we are done with them. Especially at Grandma and Grandpa’s house where Bodie can get them.

The knitted friend was temporarily relocated to my craft to-do basket. Except I didn’t feel like doing anything. So she sat, and sat, and sat.

Really, I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. I knew I could fix her up during an afternoon nap. I just didn’t feel like doing it.

Well, I was getting all my craft stuff organized for our big trip today and I was almost going to stick the doll in the to-go bag, but then I just decided that instead of doing more graph paper coloring or more crochet medalions or starting any new projects, I should probably use all my crafty inspiration and energy and finally get around to fixing the doll. So I did.

I also decided that I wanted her to have better hair. So I Googled “doll hair tutorial” and found a ton of stuff. The doll got a makeover:

Bean was super excited that I was finished when she woke up from her nap:

And she was so in love with the made-over version that the dolly had to go with us to the Farmer’s Market to enjoy some Oxnard strawberries:

So the adventures of this girl and her doll continue…

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Filed under Craftopia, Family, Parenting, Ramblings

Graph paper, Lyra pencils and Crayola crayons

I raided my daughter’s art supplies to help me with designing the color scheme for the scarf.

Each one of those squares represents a little crochet medallion. So far there are 139 that I’ve colored in. I think it’s enough to get me started.

Besides, do you see that crochet hook and how tiny and pointy it is? No way my ultra paranoid about sharp objects and other items in the car husband is going to be letting me crochet with it. So I better save some coloring for the long car ride.

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Designer crochet scarf

Next week our family and the families of some of our best friends are going to be holed up together in Park City, UT in a “cabin” (more like luxury home). Last time we went I started and finished an entire sweater for my sister-in-law.

I have not felt at all craft since my post-holiday and beginning of pregnancy burn-out.

And then the lovely Kara posted this on her blog and I just about died. The kids woke up from their naps early (actually I later figured out that Bean didn’t nap at all, the little stinker was “awake reading books”) and I took them straight to JoAnn’s to get crochet thread and a minuscule crochet hook. Crochet was my first craft love (my friend Latisha and I rocked the 6th grade class making, selling, and wearing crochet scrunchies, oh heck yes!) so it is appropriate that this should be my first project back.

All I have to go off of is the picture she posted, but I don’t really ever use a pattern anyway and I am not so good at reading crochet ones. So I’m just winging it. Here are a couple shots of my progress so far:

I am so super excited about this project!


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Bean, almost 2 and a half

I haven’t done an update post on Bean in quite some time and I wanted to document a few things that I just want to remember about her right now.

Mostly it has to do with speech mannerisms and how she says things in her little Bean way.
-How she says her name with a ‘W’ sound where there should be an ‘L’
-How when she is doing something that she isn’t supposed to and feeling especially honery she will say her name the exact way I say it when I say her name when she is in trouble with the tone and everything matched perfectly.
-How she says “fink” instead of “think”. How when she wants something she’ll some times make it seem like it is something her brother is wanting. “Fink [Sprout] wants a smoovie (smoothie), Mama.”
-How she says she wants to do something not by saying, “I want to do ____?” or “Can we do ______?” but rather, “Should we listen to music?” or “Should we fold laundry?” (that’s one of my favorites that she says), or “Should we get out the stroller?” or “Guys want to go outside and play in the garden?”
-How she is a bit of a know-it-all right now and how she has picked up on my mannerism of using the word actually a lot. And the attidue. Oh the attitude. “That’s the doctor’s office. No, it’s a tall building, actually. No, actually, it’s a big ship.” (Everything that is really tall is a big ship since we went to my sister’s deployment). “When we get to church we’re going to go straight to the bathroom and try to use the potty.” “No, actually, I can’t go Mama.” “No, actually you can go and try to use the potty when we get there.” “Um, no.”
-How she says stuff like this all the time: “Today, I’m going to go to Target by myself and get some jelly beans and pay for them and then I’m going to go to Whole Foods.” Guess you can tell where we do a lot of shopping…

So I took some pictures this morning trying to capture the attitude that spills out of her when she is talking.

I have more pictures from the last few months, but these pretty much capture so much of who she is right now. It is frustrating and funny and annoying and like a big mirror in my face all day long and so many other things all at once. I love it, when I’m really honest with myself. It’s fun watching her turn into the little person she is becoming.


Filed under Family, Parenting, Ramblings