There are vegetarians. And valetudinarians. I've been accused of being one of these. There are vegans. And raw foodists. Catch "Wife Swap," anyone? Don't get me wrong, I do make my own kefir. I just don't rouse everyone in the middle of the night to partake....especially the kids, since they can't do dairy.
We're Breatharians. We live on air. I call my blog "everything-free eating" because we've had to remove so many food items from our menu that it feels like it is everything-free. And "everything-free" cooking has proven to be the biggest challenge of my life.
Five years ago, we had a positive diagnosis of gluten intolerance in our oldest child. The dietary changes that this positive diagnosis required led to us connecting the dots to the genetic chain, linking at least three generations on Tool Guy's (my dearest husband of twenty-four years, twin of Tim "The Tool Man" Tailor) paternal side of the family and one, possibly two generations on the maternal side. One year after diagnosis, we were slammed by the emergence of a long list of other intolerances, confirmed by IgG testing. Not something you're ready to find out one month before delivering your next baby, you know? Before it all stabilized, we'd lost entire food groups. Clawing our way back to wellness has been a long, gruelling fight, but we're getting there.
Gluten-free living seems almost halcyon by comparison. I read other gluten-free blogs with the avid anticipation I used to reserve for the Sears Wish List Catalog when I was a child. As we've crept forward and added new foods back in, I've begun pulling out old gluten-free (and casein-free) recipe books and pillaging the library for more current ones. In fact, in our family we've started a unique family tradition. Every Thanksgiving, instead of the usual fare, we have a spread containing all of the foods we've successfully added back in, plus a trial food....the food we'd like most to add back in and augers best for successful re-entry. It's added a special facet to the concept of Giving Thanks.
My oldest is contemplating the trial food for this year as I type. It's a toss up between corn and dairy. Corn is looking to be the favorite among the three of them. The middler wants grits in the worst way. What can I say? It's the Southerner coming out in him. We may live in New England, but these Hobbits are three-quarters Southern and blood will out.
The food blog deities have set the standard of posting a delicious and appropriate recipe with each entry. I'll do my best to approach the bar, though I don't know how long I can sustain such a momentum. Oh, the pressure...
My oldest has, in his extensive list, a positive reaction to yeast, which has put bread out of reach, even after we were able to put grains back into the diet. The logical alternative to this would be sourdough bread. Enjoy Life even has this Wonder Bread kind of sourdough. Ignoring the almost $6 price tag on this microscopic loaf of bread, it flopped at our house because we still, apparently, haven't shaken reactivity to seeds and this brand uses sunflower oil. I also had this approach-avoidance relationship with wheat-based sourdough bread recipes, because I couldn't visualize the jump between the differences in gluten and gluten free breads. I did follow Sandor Katz's suggestions for catching wild yeasts in his most excellent book, Wild Fermentation. My ferments must be too wild to be harnessed, because all I got was flat, wet, sour glop.
This is where the combined genius of email lists populated by eccentrics and innovators is so priceless. A Washington-based computer whiz, who has been dubbed The Glutenator, frequently putters in her kitchen, saying "What if...." and making it happen. The Glutenator found a reliable way of capturing wild yeasts by using milk kefir grains in apple juice, the grains carrying the yeasts and the juice being sweet enough and neutral enough in flavor to be a delicious ingredient in bread without torquing the sense of bread-ness. She provided the basic recipe and I, never able to leave any recipe alone and follow it to the letter, tweaked it into what I call Almost Everything Free Sourdough Bread. With further intrepidity, I followed it up with my Almost Everything Free Bagels.
Originally, I'd begun these sourdough experiments with rice flour, because it is the cheapest to waste. When I started succeeding, I started blending in sorghum for a more whole wheat kind of approach. This was not met with raptures by the children. Even celiac children want Wonder Bread. Philistines. More recently, I've been mixing millet in as well, but I've found that too much millet makes the sourdough....well...sour. Now I've got a three grain mix going on that everyone is content with. The littles have each put on three pounds in the last month. Three much needed pounds, I might add. Tool Guy doesn't need his three pounds though.
Almost Everything Free Sourdough Bread
2 cups gluten-free flour
2 cups kefir-fermented apple juice
Mix thoroughly and let stand for 24 hours.
In a bowl, measure out:
1/2 cup tapioca starch flour
1/2 cup potato starch flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons guar gum
In a mixer, whip up 4-6 egg whites until frothy.
Into the meringue, pour:
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 cups sourdough starter
Mix in dry ingredients. This yields a rather thin batter for a bread. It will be about the consistency of toothpaste, but not spreading out with the ease of pancake batter. Pour into bread pan and let rise until doubled. Bake at 350* for an hour.
When the kidlets can do seeds again, I'm going to add sunflower seeds, garlic, and onion bits to these bagels and call them my Almost Everything Free Everything Bagels in acknowledgement of Thomas' Everything Bagel, of which we no longer mourn the loss.
Almost Everything Free Sourdough Bagels
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch flour
1 T guar gum
2 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 egg white, whipped to meringue
1 teaspoon vinegar
Egg whites for finish (optional)
Whip egg into meringue, add oil, syrup, vinegar, and whole egg. Add starter, then dry ingredients. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Mixture will be stiff and thick. If too crumbly, add more starter/kefir cider. This is one gluten-free recipe that I use my dough hook for.
Divide dough into 8 balls, dusting hands if necessary to prevent sticking. Roll into balls, flatten slightly, punch hole in center and place on cooking sheet.
In warm environment, let rise 4 hours or until desired loft.
Place sheet in cold oven and bake at 325* for 15 minutes. Place bagels into boiling water for 30 seconds on each side, brush surface with egg whites, and bake at 400* for 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned.
Remove and place on wire rack to cool.