Friday, September 26, 2008

So much for our new stove...

The handyman for our apartment is the worst flake. He says he'll be there at 11 and please call if there are any questions. He shows up at 3 demanding to know why I never called to confirm.

Today we had an appointment for 5:30. I busted a gut to get home and almost immediately cleared the path and took down the safety gate, took out all the recycling and made sure that everything he requested was in place to get the stove into our kitchen and our old stove out. At 5:40...nothing. The sitter looked out the door and found a little note saying that he left at 5:15 and that he'd be around tomorrow. I immediately called him, because we'll be out at a birthday party. He insists that he "knocked" but the sitter says she heard nothing and she was sitting in the next room within easy hearing of the door and what happens on the other side.

Now he wants the building manager to let him in. He says that we can just leave everything the way it is...he obviously doesn't have kids. So I told him that the gate goes back up and the storage furniture has to return to the hallway where it started and if he wants to come in tomorrow, it's up to him to clear it all and put it back the way he found it. If it's not, I'm complaining to the manager.

And no bread for him.

I was going to bake another loaf of that lovely kefir-sourdough rice bread, and it's now rising (hopefully) in our barely-functional old stove. (I figure I'll do it until I make the GAPS break...and that has to be after introducing nuts.) I'd better get back to (finally) pulling dinner together.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Rice Canary in a Disaccharide Coal Mine

Well, it's not a definite, objective, proven thing yet, but yesterday's flirtation with not eating rice yielded some interesting observations.

At about 1 pm I had chicken broth, a bit of meat, fruit, a slice of sourdough bread with a hunk of raw butter. The bread was Food For Life's "yeast-free" brown rice bread (the fact that it is probably a wild-yeasted sourdough hasn't hit their marketing department yet?), but I'm guessing that the disaccharide problem may be at least partly solved by the fermentation. I wasn't being a purist, just trying something new. At any rate, it felt different.

I got hungry again quickly and there were no snacks in sight. I haven't tried nuts since Little Moo was about 4 months old, so NT "crispy nuts" were out. The only portable food left were rice crackers which I decided to leave at home. I was shaking by the time I finished my workout and headed home at 6. When I got home I scoured the refrigerator for something I could eat quickly that wasn't just simple rice. The second slice of bread was frustratingly close to plain rice, but still felt different. Dinner included rice pasta, but it was still a day with an entire midday break from the stuff.

Last night I had no hives at all. Nothing even vaguely resembling them. Usually I get a tingle here or there by about 9 pm, even if no hives show up. I usually get rashes on the backs of my knees by then too, but they were also gone.

I'm wondering if I can get Little Moo squared away with some kind of nuts and start her on nut snacks instead of rice if those little rashes on the backs of her poor little knees will go away.

Unfortunately, if I find that nuts are not a possibility for us, the GAPS diet will not work in our case. There's just not enough on the menu that I can make that can be stored well at room temperature and taken out of the house for lunches or snacks. I've tried squash and other starchy veggies with her and she simply won't touch them no matter what the incarnation. I'm also afraid that Dr. Cowan simply prescribes this diet for everyone who comes into his office and isn't really looking that closely or thinking about options for the truly eating-impaired.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Well, the fun is over...for now. I have to put my rice away and eat other things. It's time for least it will be after I make my next big grocery run. It's not so different from my normal diet, actually, except for the lack of rice, which is a major staple for me. Just to try it, I went this afternoon without rice, just broth, fruit. I was super-hungry by 5 and not yet home. Meat is so expensive that actually having a piece with each meal will be pretty cost-prohibitive. Sigh. And coconut flour is also kinda pricey. On the other hand, the food is so much BETTER! It would be supercostly to buy it premade, even if that were possible. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two starters later....and other bits.

I don't have pictures this time, but I got the bread to work. It's not a true sourdough, though. The soured rice flour was so strong that anything I made out of it tasted off. Someone named Loztnausten made a meringue-based cold-fermented (?) "Almost Anything-Free Sourdough Bread" with kefired flour. So that's what I did. She used kefired apple juice, which would be off-limits to us, so I used our tried-and-true starter-based coconut milk kefir. The resulting bread is light and yeasty tasting, almost sweet. It has a texture and taste that reminds me a bit of one of those cheese danishes that I couldn't dream of eating any more. I think in a gas oven, it would have risen much better, but even a bit heavy, it's delicious! 

I was so excited with her blog that I actually e-mailed her. She never answered, of course, but then, she might have noticed all the links that hook up with my name that have to do with San Francisco dance and theater and decided that I might be sent from the devil. Her profile indicates that she's a homeschooling Christian mother of 3. I am refusing to make any assumptions that she'd hate me simply because I live in a city where a same-sex couple holding hands walking down the street is a normal sight, or that I'm a Jew, or worse perhaps, a dancer. Or maybe I am and I'm completely paranoid. So perhaps she's just busy with her three children and her kitchen, and why do I think everyone responds to e-mails? 

Loztnausten's a terrific writer, appears to like speculative fiction - with a religious Christian twist, of course, but then, I like some of that stuff, too.

She takes great photos of her kitchen masterpieces that have been adapted brilliantly for a house full of gluten-, dairy-, soy-, corn-, grain-, and as she says, "everything-free" eaters. She also talks about how she feels her family's inability to eat comes from their use of antibiotics at some point, and many other things. I have a terrific respect for the amount of research and experimentation she's done. Her latest is an injera recipe. For real!

So now I have a cup measure...taken up with a fine starter that makes the house smell heavenly and also makes delicious pancakes. 

...and requires me to constantly be making kefired coconut milk, which is a bit expensive, but you know, probably less expensive than keeping us constantly stocked in rice-based baked goods. 

So I did the hardcore thing and ordered real water kefir grains from Dom, who is the guy in Australia who knows everything about kefir and is the main source, I believe, for many of the WAPF folks here. Then I won't have to keep buying starter and will also be able to make kefired sodas.

Speaking of kefired sodas, the Hibiscus-Rosehip drink didn't culture correctly, although it did become a strong and sweet brew that is quite tasty, so I strained it and put it in the fridge. It gave me a big fat hive on my left cheek, so I know it's chock-full of vitamin C. (Feh.) I gave it to the sitter since Little Moo has been blowing big wads of snot these last few days and Snackboy is 3000 miles away visiting his family for a week. (Which is why this blog hasn't been touched in a while.) 
This is the first cold she or any of us have had, for that matter, since we added extra vitamin D plus our off-the-grid diet. That's shy on a year now.

I could get bummed. I am. Single mothers do something incredible, especially those with no family around. Little Moo is so off her patterns right now. I think she's mad at her daddy since she doesn't yet understand comings and goings entirely.  She takes one look at the sitter, who has been here every day since Snackboy left, and simply says "No (sitter's name inserted here) today." Then the day is an uphill battle until the sitter leaves. I'm thinking of dismissing her for the rest of the time, but I honestly need her help since I really am alone here. 

Also, news from the itty bitty kitchen. We have a new-used refrigerator! While it's fridge section is smaller, the freezer is bigger and lower so I can actually see inside and can reach in all the way. Woohoo! The building manager has told me that we're going to get a new stove, too, although the way he works, it will be another few years before that happens, and at that point, it will be because I remind him during one of his many alcoholic funks at which point he tells me that he remembers not at all. Sigh. I think of all the things I could actually make if the oven actually worked. The baking element on this hunk of junk has what looks like boils on the rear left side and heats not at all back there. I broil all kinds of things on low with the grate down simply because I can't bake and have anything come out. Then I could also give true directions on this blog! Hah!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A quick and yummy soup dinner for two tired parents

Little Moo fell asleep in the car at 6pm after a napless day, so Snackboy and I dug into the fridge and made something up.

Tasty chicken miso soup with noodles

leftover rice noodles
2 cups of chicken bone broth and two mugs
2 or three snips from a bunch of chives
1 ts garbanzo miso per cup of soup.

Boil the soup for a moment and lower the heat. 

Add a handful of noodles to each cup
Add a spoonful of miso to each cup
Pour soup over noodles and miso
Snip chives over the tasty soup.

Velvet Coconut Cupcakes - 

They're actually based on the rice bread recipe, believe it or not. 
I substituted 4 tbs of coconut flour for rice flour and used coconut kefir as a liquid base with just a little coconut oil added, then added, as usual, a bit less maple syrup than the recipe calls for. I completely forgot the vanilla, so add that if you like (about 1 ts or so). It seems to taste fine without.

1 1/2 c coarse rice flour minus 4 tb
4 tb sweet coconut flour
1/4 c rice flour
1/4 c - 1 ts tapioca starch
1 ts arrowroot starch
1/2 ts guar gum
1 tb baking powder

1/2 c coconut milk kefir
about 2 tb coconut oil, melted but not hot
fill up the rest of a cup measure containing the kefir and oil with maple syrup (that's what, about 1/3 cup?)
1 cup tepid water

Blend all dry ingredients.
Blend all wet ingredients except water.

Add wet to dry, mix well. Add water. Mix well.

Pour into muffin cups lined with paper liners. Check at 20 minutes. They may need another 5 or so. They were just barely brown on top and done in the middle, although the crumb is very soft. Little Moo prefers things soft, but you and yours might like a bit of a crust on it. 

Enjoy! Dip in custard. 

Lest you think that I'm all about complaining about our's the result of some serious fun today: velvet coconut cupcakes and date-vanilla custard to dip! As usual, they're gluten-, just-about-all-grain-, dairy-, corn- and soy-free. The little grains in the custard are from the date sugar. If I could do it again, I'd make it with rapadura or sucanat, but that's what I had. 

We're going to a birthday party for a little friend of Little Moo's. Unfortunately it's right when she's at her most tired and hasn't yet napped, so we're most likely going to go, hand over our present, play for a bit, have our snack and then go. It seemed to be very important not just to bring lunch, but also to bring a sweet treat for Little Moo when all those gluten and dairy eaters brandish their forks for birthday cake.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How dysfunctional can it get?

Let's see...we've needed duct tape to keep the freezer sealed up since we moved in and our stove is probably from the 70s. You can't really tell by the photograph, but each burner is at around a 20 degree angle unless you mess with it each time...then it's still tilted and half the burner doesn't really heat anything, so you have to constantly turn the pans around to cook the contents. The oven heats up well in front, moderately in the middle and anything beyond that is never fully cooked, so you have to turn things in the oven, too, which does NOT work for cakes. Nothing rises...when I made the special bread for Rain's birthday in Philadelphia, it looked like a fine CAKE! Here it's like something shy of hardtack (although quite tasty).

The good news is that we're getting a new fridge and possibly a new stove on Monday!!!! Yay!!!!! 

Pictures from the Itty Bitty Kitchen #1

Finally, some kitchen images. Just to give you an idea of how small this little kitchen/chemistry lab is...this is as far as I could get back to shoot. It's about 8' square. The rice flour starter is bubbling happily on the toaster oven and gets moved briefly when I cook something in there. The big bowl is the beginnings of what I hope will be partly recycled grain sponge. I took it out to stir it after some hours on top of the fridge. It smells great, but no bubbles as yet. The third image is our latest crock of sauerkraut which eventually has to go live on top of the fridge since that little table is the only workspace. 

More pics of our itty bitty kitchen soon...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A mysteriously tasty happy accident: Smoky Summer Squash

This happened because I tossed them into the pan and forgot about them while I did other things. They got slightly dry and over-brown on the outside so I drizzled them with olive oil after. Something about the tastes from both oils and the smoked salt does something unexpectedly magnificent. 

3 or 4 big summer squashes (the kind that are shaped like small UFOs)
a smattering of smoked salt, available at Rainbow Grocery
about 1 tb coconut oil
a small drizzle of olive oil.

Slice up the squashes about 1/2" or so thick. Lay them in a pan. Spread the coconut oil over them with a butter knife. Sprinkle a small bit of the smoked salt over it and bake at 350 degrees until slightly brown on the outside. I'm guessing it was about 30-40 minutes, but your oven probably works better than ours, so it probably won't take so long. Remove from oven when done and drizzle olive oil on the squash pieces. Serve warm. 

Houston, We Have Bubbles

Sorry for the terrible pun. But we do. Have bubbles. 
Yesterday our oceanside neighborhood got foggy and cold again, so I put the starter with its three little black grapes in it beside the cooking stew on top of our toaster oven. This morning I woke to an oddly sweet, spicy, winey smell. When I came into the kitchen, the starter had bubbled! So I picked out the grapes, added 2 tablespoons of flour, stirred and put it back on the table. Then I made Little Moo's toast and will replace the bowl on top of the toaster oven after for the warmth. Now I'm going to have to keep something cooking all the time so that the chill doesn't invade again.

Here's to lactobaccillus sanfranciscensus!

Monday, September 8, 2008

More on tomatoes, rice sourdough, soured radishes

The tomato sauce turned out amazingly. Slow-cooked foods are perfect for parents. I get the thing chopped and put together, then simmer it super-slow while losing track of time with Little Moo (for all intensive purposes, an alias, not so secret for those who know us, for DD). When she's finally in bed, bathed and played out, I go back to the kitchen to the fragrance of tomatoes and onions that has completely filled the front half of our place. No garlic this time...that's one too many challenges for me. The 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil is quite enough, thank you! I added the aforesaid basil and let the 30 minute clock in my head go off. Then I put the delicious results away in the fridge in a glass storage bowl. 

No bubbles yet in our rice flour starter. Just three lonely grapes bobbing around like pigs in mud. 

The radishes alternately smell rich and winey and then don't smell at all. I checked them yesterday and they were still not pickley enough. 

We have found that radishes make incredibly tasty pickles. They're also good mixed with young squashes, tiny cucumbers and other small or sliced things. The brine becomes a lovely pink color.

Pickled Radishes

(I used Sandor Katz's salt-to-water measurements)

Slice up two large daikon roots and two bunches of red radishes. Layer into a 2 gallon crock with a hunk of onion at the bottom. (Sorry if "a hunk" isn't never is for me. Suffice it to say we never eat the onion since it gives all of us gas, so I just slice off about 1/8 to 1/4 of a yellow onion for flavor and toss it when the results get ladled into jars.)

Measure water to salt: 4 c water to 3 tb sea salt. I usually wind up making two or three 4 c measures. Pour over the radishes and press a plate down over them so that every bit is submerged with about 1 inch of brine over the plate and no floaties. 

Cover with a clean cloth and tie around the lip of the crock. 

Let ferment for about 1 week. You're supposed to check every few days but I never get around to it. I've always had good results. I also always get what Katz calls "bloom." I never let it scare me. I just scoop off the mold with a big spoon and it's always tasty beneath. 

I've had good results with Celtic salt and better ones with Esprit de Sel, a rocky French salt available at Rainbow. Use more when it's hot out, less when it's cool.

We've just found that at least I can eat black pepper so I might wind up tossing a few peppercorns at the bottom next time. 


Hooray for Tomatoes!

Yes, we can eat least I can and we know that Snackboy can. DD has sniffed at every bit of tomato that has landed on her plate. I think she expected the sweet but of course acidic little grape tomato to be a grape and that was just not okay. Then of course, each time a tomato showed up it was insult added to injury. So tonight I made a slowly simmered tomato sauce based on Nourishing Traditions's chunky version. (Which is really just like my old sauce with more care taken to remove skins and seeds 'cause I'm just more slow-foody these days.)

Basil appears to be okay. We'll see. 

Tomorrow night we're having some tasty Tinkyada rice pasta with sauce and some slow-cooked lamb, squash and kraut. Yum! New food!

I've also taken the plunge and put up Jessica Prentiss' Hibiscus and Rosehip kefirred soda. DD and I have been drinking hibiscus tea now for about a week with no bad effects and have had lemon for nearly a month now with no problem. I'm hoping that the rosehips will be fine if cultured.