I think we've crossed the terminus of a status change. We're no longer just Breatharians. We're now the proud owners of a set of birds that makes us something different now...we're Budgerigarians. Yep. Dog has been lobbying diligently to become a pet owner of some type and this, after much deliberation and discussion, is what was agreed upon.
Originally, he wanted a dog. A husky, in fact. There were several factors excluding this from practicability. Not the smallest of which was the size of our family and the inverse size of our house. (Reason #1) Plus the well-known, well-established fact that after the shine has worn off of any pet, the primary caregiver becomes...come on, admit it...Mom. And Mom just has about as much on her plate as she can handle. (Reason #2) I insisted to Dog that if I wanted another creature to raise, I'd get pregnant again. He was, unsurprisingly, unimpressed. The biggest factor came down to the fact that most dog food is a gluten, corn, et al landmine. And, yes, I'm aware of the trend in feeding animals on a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet, affectionately known as BARF. See Reason #2. Add to that the cost of feeding Hobbits and you'll have Reason #3 why even a BARF diet doesn't solve the pet problem.
We toyed with the idea of rabbits. Actually, the Hobbits toyed with the idea. When "rabbits" came out of Tool Guy's mouth, it was of a mind to raise them as one would raise chickens. I wasn't sold on the idea, because at least with chickens, you get eggs. I like having multi-tasking appliances and multi-tasking animals working for me, you know? Even the Hobbits are starting to work for their keep anymore, but that's fodder for another blog another day.
Finally, Dog settled his heart on birds. After all, bird seed...what could be easier? A veritable piece of gluten-free cake, no? It even happened that as Tool Guy and I began to finalize the decision in our minds, a very lovely Theresa in a neighboring village offered a very pristine bird cage on Freecycle and we became the happy recipients. Tool Guy spirited Dog out for a father/son outing and came back with two young budgies, one blue and one yellow, dotted with green. All of the Hobbits were enchanted. Tool Guy also was equipped with toys and a bag of bird food.
Picking up the bag with idle curiosity, I began to read the list of ingredients. Very shortly into the list, it popped up. Wheat. Wheat gluten. Sigh. Nothing about this Breatharian stuff is compatible with prepackaged anything.
But just as having to think outside the cereal box liberates the Breatharian to eat more nutritiously than the person who shops the inner aisles of the grocery store, being unable to feed the bagged stuff liberates the Budgerigarians to pursue a more nutritious diet for the budgie. It seems that the experienced bird handler knows that an all-seed diet can cut a bird's life expectancy by more than half. At the instruction of a foodie friend who also has birds, I raided our stores of grains, beans, and seeds down in the basement and began to tutor Dog in the fine art of sprouting. Sprouts of fenugreek, millet, quinoa, amaranth, adzuki, buckwheat, and others joined the jars lining the sink. I even dipped a hand into my stash of nori sheets and we shredded up bits for them to nibble on. In a very short time, these SAD budgies had abandoned their station at the millet seed cup for the attractions of the sprouts. Following a referred link, I discovered that not only do these birds do better on a fresh and varied diet, it's also recommended to consider a gluten-free diet for them.
Digging around through our stores turned up the amaranth and quinoa that had been sitting in my "hope chest" of food...hoping for the day when they would be back on the menu. Today is that day. I also pulled out an old friend of a recipe that the Hobbits used to enjoy, when rice had disappeared from the menu and before seeds followed.
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
2 T tapioca starch flour
1/2 t guar gum
1/2 - 1 t cinnamon
2 T maple syrup
1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground flax seed
2 T lemon juice
1-2 T water
2 T oil
In a large bowl, mix flours and dry ingredients. In blender or food processor, blend liquid ingredients with ground flax seed. Stir into flour mixture until it forms a ball. Add more water and/or oil as necessary.
Divide dough into two pieces. On a sheet of wax or parchment paper, sprinkle a dusting of flour to prevent sticking and place dough ball under another sheet.
Roll out until very thin, trim edges, and transfer to cookie sheet. Use pizza cutter to cut dough into pieces.
In a 325* oven, bake for 10-20 minutes or until crisp and brown as desired. Test a cracker in the center of sheet for crispness. If the outer ones are done, but the inner ones aren't, remove the crispy ones and return the rest to the oven, repeating until done.
Crackers are among the things that are off the menu for budgies. Nice to know they aren't off the menu for Hobbits.