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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes

I've perfected my gluten-free buckwheat pancake recipe.  There are a number of good all-buckwheat variations out there - the one from the Hodgson Mill package is nice.  However, having perfected my own gluten-containing recipe, which contains about half buckwheat, half flour, I set out to transform it into a gluten-free version.  It wasn't too difficult.
You can leave out the Xanthan gum if you don't have it - if you're a hard-core gluten-free cook I recommend it, but don't go out and buy it otherwise.  It improves the body somewhat.  If you want to make it with wheat flour, leave out the Xanthan gum and use 1/2 cup white or whole wheat flour.  If you want them to be lower fat, use 2 tbsp butter.

Old Biddy's Sunday Breakfast

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat or sorghum flour (or use wheat flour if you don't need gluten free, or a premade gluten-free flour mix)
1 tsp Xanthan gum (optional)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
2 eggs
1 1/3-1 1/2 cups buttermilk.

Combine dry ingredients and mix.
In microwave, melt butter in mixing bowl.  Add eggs and beat with a whisk.  Whisk in 1 1/3 cups buttermilk.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  If batter is too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.  It seems to thicken up after a few minutes so it is ok if it's slightly thin.
Cook pancakes.  I find they work better if they are on the small side (4").  You can add blueberries or chocolate chips if you want.  Makes about 3 or 4 servings.  Serve with your favorite pancake toppings.  Unlike most pancakes, they taste really good reheated.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Round 2: No Knead Gluten-Free Boule

I haven't done much baking lately.  I made coconut macaroons last week and they were quite tasty but weren't particularly blogworthy.  My now gluten-free buckwheat pancake recipe is quite good and I will post it soon.
Somewhere along the line I remembered there were some gluten-free recipes in one of my no-knead bread cookbooks.  I've had good luck with this technique and was curious to try. Naturally, I didn't have all the different types of flours required so I didn't make it right away.
Anyway, the basic technique is the same as the other no-knead breads - you make a wet dough and let it sit for two hours at room temperature and then store in the fridge.  When you want bread you break off a ball, let it rise and cook it at high heat.  If you prefer, roll it out and use it as pizza dough.

Gluten Free Boule

2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cup sorghum flour
3 cups tapioca flour
2 tbsp dry yeast
2 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp kosher salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup oil
2 2/3 cups warm water
2 tbsp honey (I forgot to add this)

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  Combine water, eggs, honey and oil and add to dry ingredients.  Mix well and make sure all the dry stuff gets blended in.  Cover loosely and let it rise at room temperature for two hours.  Put dough in fridge.
The dough should be stored in the fridge for at least a day for best flavor.  When you are ready to bake, pull off a ball (I divided the big batch into 3 portions), shape it and let it rise on a piece of parchment paper. It should rise for at least 2 hours, in my experience - it takes a long time to warm up from the fridge.  About 30-40 minutes before you are ready to bake it, heat your oven to 450F.  Use a pizza stone if you have one and let it heat up as the oven is heating.   (If not, just put it on a cookie sheet.) Place dough in oven.  If you are motivated, put a pan on another shelf in the oven and pour a cup of water into it when you put the dough in the oven.  The steam will help the bread.  (I forgot it the second time around and didn't notice much of a difference, though) Cook until loaf is golden brown, appx 35-40 minutes.
For pizza dough, sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with cornstarch.  Pull off a ball of dough and roll out to appx 3/16"-1/4" thick.  Allow it to warm to room temperature, and preferably let it rise for at least another 30 minutes after that.  Add pizza suace, cheese, toppings etc.  Bake in a 450F oven until done.

The bread is interesting. It's kind of dense and doesn't totally taste like wheat bread.  However, it does have a nice yeasty flavor and a good crust, especially when toasted.  It was infinitely better than the gluten free bread I tried on vacation.  In the pizza dough, it actually tasted as good as my usual homemade crust and had a nice crunch which might've been even better if it were rolled out thinner.  It had an interesting crispiness although it was dense, it was not doughy.
It was so nice to have bread and pizza, even though it tasted different. 

Old biddy's advice on obituary writing

You may've heard about the kerkuffle surrounding the Yvonne Brill obituary in the New York Times.  If you haven't, I'll summarize in a nutshell.  She was a rocket scientist who invented some pretty cool stuff.  The NYT obituary opened by describing her beef stroganoff making skills, how she was a great mom, and how she said a good husband was harder to find than a good job. It then described her career.  They have since edited it to make it less sexist. It's a lot less offensive but I'm still not thrilled.  Needless to say, a lot of people (including me) got pretty offended by the sexist spin on her life.  Predictably, the author had no clue this was offensive and said he just wanted to humanize her. 
I was all set to post a blog on it last week, but then noticed that a grad school colleague of mine had taken the opposite track and proposed we needed similar obituaries for men.  I'm all for human interest, so I had to stew on that for a while. I got my answer when I read the MIT chemistry newsletter.
A few days prior to Yvonne Brill's death, another badass honey badger scientist, Emily Wick, passed away and her obituary was published in the Boston Globe and included in the MIT Chemistry department newsletter.  There was plenty of human interest in this one, minus all the annoying sexism.  Yes, her life does reflect the times in which she lived, as does Brill's, but it is possible to describe it in a way that does not rile people up.  If my (male) PhD advisor passed away I would hope to see something similar, although I would not necessarily expect it.  Note to NYTimes - it's not really that hard to do.


The following obituary appeared in the Boston Globe on March 26, 2013.
"Emily L. Wick died peacefully of old age in her home in Rockport, Massachusetts
on March 21, 2013. She was 91 years old. Aunt Emily, everyone's favorite aunt,
has left behind an interesting and unusual life. She was born on December 9, 1921
in Youngstown, Ohio, daughter of James L. Wick, Jr. and Clare Dryer Wick. She
attended Mount Holyoke College where she earned a BS and MA in chemistry. She
went on to MIT and earned her doctorate, also in chemistry. After working for the
prominent firm of A.D. Little, where she discovered the chemistry for foods we take
for granted such as Miracle Whip and Campbell's soups, she joined the faculty at
MIT in the Department of Food Technology where she developed food systems for
the newly formed astronaut corps. She became the first woman to rise through the
ranks to achieve tenure at MIT and was also appointed Associate Dean for Student
Affairs. As the first woman member of the MIT Corporation, she was very instrumental in early efforts to assure that women students and staff played an equal role in the life of the university and had the same opportunities as men, as well as in developing a gender blind admissions policy. In 1973 she returned to Mount Holyoke as Dean of the Faculty and later Special Assistant to the President for Long-Range Planning.
After thirteen very happy years at Mount Holyoke, Emily retired in 1986 and returned to her beloved
Rockport. Emily's true love from the age of ten until her last days was sailing. She spent her first summer in Rockport in 1937. In the 1940's she and her sisters bought an O Boat called "The Little Urchin". Subsequently, she became a winning skipper of a Star Boat, a Jolly Boat, a Firefly, and ultimately a Bullseye. Until very recently she could be found every weekend on the water. Even when she became too old to skipper a boat she loved to go out in the committee boat or watch the races from her house on the edge of the harbor. We all remember the excitement in 1954 when the North American Star Championships were held in Rockport; Emily was very much a part of that project. In 1988 Emily became the first woman Commodore of the Sandy Bay Yacht Club and helped move the club toward a modern professional operation. She was very interested in ensuring that membership in the club be affordable for everyone, especially teen-agers. She is widely remembered among club members, and the committee boat has been named for her. Somehow Emily also found the time
to be an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and was a life long birder. She had binoculars in her car and in several places in her home as well as a spotting scope. She loved opera and listened every Saturday to Maine Public Radio broadcasts of live performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. She was the kindest of people and never, ever said an ungenerous word about anyone, not even politicians.  Emily leaves behind a nephew Jim Wick, of Shelburne, VT, and four nieces, Laura Hallowell of Rockport, MA, Louise (Dan) DeSantis of Somersworth, NH, and her children Peter and Madeline, Emily W. Schaff of Youngstown, OH, and Anne Schaff of Portland, ME, and a long list of friends. Emily's family is grateful for the superb and loving care of her helpers and nurses from North Shore PRN and Hospice of the North Shore. A memorial service with reception following [was] held at the First Congregational Church of Rockport on April 20. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sandy Bay Yacht Club Sailing Program.