Friday, October 12, 2012

Best Gluten Free Rice Bread

Dry Ingredients (Mix thoroughly):
(You can pre-mix this to have on hand)

2 cups/320g        white rice flour
; prefer Goya Enriched
(can sub another flour: up to 1/2 by Weight)
1 cup/122g         tapioca starch or 1/2&1/2 with Expandex*

½ cup/62.5g       cornstarch 

2/3 cup/45g        powdered dry milk

½ cup/112.5g     sugar
1/2 T                  salt (=1.5 tsp)

Add just before making and mix in thoroughly:
1/2 T                xanthan gum

1/2 T                guar gum*
1 tsp                 psyllium powder*(or Metamucil)
1.5 Tbs            dry yeast 

Liquid (Mix separately and thoroughly):
4/200-230g        eggs, large, beaten well (weigh eggs)

1.5 cups/354g    warm water
3-4 T                  corn oil (It’s still good without)

1 tsp                   vinegar
  • Use a good stand mixer, oven thermometer and instant-read thermometer.
  • Weigh dry ingredients (and eggs) instead of using volume measures!   
  • All ingredients at room temperature.
  • Mix liquids thoroughly and add to thoroughly mixed dry ingredients.
  • Whip until stiff peaks form: 10 minutes (can’t overmix)
  • If it’s too thin to whip properly add a bit more starch.
  • Put into greased regular bread pans.  It will fill the pan.
  • Level with a wet spatula; spray with oil to keep top moist.
  • Let rise until just domed; it will rise a lot in the oven.  If it over-rises it will overflow! Re-mix and replace in the pan to re-rise.
  • Bake 50+ min. at 350 degrees. When making multiple loaves gently rearrange for even baking.
  • Bake until the middle is 205F. If it gets too brown, cover with foil.
  • Close to the end of baking turn it on its side to set the middle. 
  • Remove from the pan and leave in the oven on its other side so it will cool slowly.
  • If thermometer or probe shows a wet interior, leave in oven on 250-300F for a while; retest until drier.
  • Makes good rolls! Cook on parchment or greased pan.
April 2013 Notes:
  • You can substitute almost any other GF Flour for the rice flour up to 1/2 by Weight.  Teff flour makes it 'wheatier'.
  • I haven't yet tried substituting other starches, but you could try the same thing: 1/2 by weight.
  • Expandex may not be necessary. Experiment!
  • Goya brand is the only Enriched Rice flour I have found. Iron deficiency often goes with Celiac.
  • Beating into whipped cream texture is KEY!  See the pictures.
  • Pans with just crisco work well, rarely stick.
  • Don't let it over rise!  It doesn't help the texture.
  • I have had to extend the baking time
  • I've been making 'mixes' of the dry ingredients so I can throw together a couple loaves quickly.
  • Add the gums and yeast just before you make your loaf, not to any 'mixes' you'll store.  They don't like air exposure and won't work as well.
  • I mix my wet ingredients separately and thoroughly.  When I make multiple loaves I mix separate containers for each loaf.
  • Doubling the recipe is not recommended.
  • Timing is everything: in mixing and in baking.  Experiment for yourself.  I'm happier with a darker loaf and a firmer, drier middle than a paler loaf and moist middle. Over 200F in the middle is optimal. Under will be soggier.
  • Slice it after cooling and put in the freezer.  Take out just what you'll use in a couple days.  I've never had it mold, even in a week. When I make multiple loaves I freeze them whole.
  • Failures make good breadcrumbs!
*My changes to the original recipe. Expandex is modified tapioca starch bought on the internet, supposed to help GF breads rise.  Psyllium powder can be bought @ Whole Foods type stores in the digestive area; use Metamucil as a substitute. Combination of Expandex, gums and psyllium mimics gluten.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Mushroom Season!

Pholiota has fruited up on a recently downed river birch. I checked out their edibility and got mixed results.  Some say they're edible and good, others say they're edible but insipid and then some say they'll make you sick if you eat them with a meal with alcohol.  Several call them poisonous.  Hmmm.  I think I'll forgo them since I'm heading to DC to celebrate my brother's birthday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Gluten Free Tomato Soup

Extra Thick, 

2 cans (or equivalent)       Tomatoes, peeled, & diced or crushed,
                                         drain & save juice
1 T                                    Salt
1 t                                     Pepper
2T                                     Italian dressing or any vinaigrette
                                          dressing or dry mix. 
2 cans                               Tomato juice or V8
1/4 C                                Corn starch (or any thickening starch)
1 C                                   Milk or cream to taste

*      Simmer tomato pulp and 1/2 of the juice
*     Add spices to taste.
*     Mix starch and 1/4 of the cold juice to a slurry.
*     Add cold starch slurry to simmering tomatoes.  Stir a lot to ensure even distribution.
*     Assess whether you need more thickening.  
*     If you're going to add milk before serving make it extra thick.  Use the rest of the juice and more starch, a tablespoon at a time. Or use the rest of the juice to thin out the soup.  It will thicken more as it cools, and even more if you reheat it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Best Gluten Free Bread (so far)

This recipe from is 2/3 rice flour an 1/3 tapioca starch. (
I used half xanthan gum and half guar gum rather than all xanthan gum and added a teaspoon of psyllium powder. I also used half Expandex and half regular tapioca starch.  I think that the whipping the batter into a 'whipped cream' state was the main reason it has such a tight texture, though the psyllium and split gums may have helped keep the loaves from collapsing.  The recipe almost fills a regular loaf pan, and the rise only adds a little more volume, but the oven spring really jumps it up!  They didn't shrink after cooling, though I did put them on their side for the initial cooling, removed them from the pans and left them in the oven to slow-cool.

This is the best I've done so far. It toasts well and tastes very good.  I'm going to tweak the buckwheat recipe next. (Did 2 more loaves... same great results!)

Motherhood for Ms Barnevelder!

Ms Barnevelder hatched out a few chicks who didn't survive, sadly.  Undeterred she got right back up and set for another 21 days... Success!  She's now the proud mama to 6 biddies, one of whom is a teensy Serama.  Congratulations, Ms B.

Here is Ms Cuckoo Maran with her 13 biddies and Ms Barnevelder #1 with her surviving 4 chicks.  Ms Maran and Ms Silkie hatched chicks at the same time in adjoining boxes.  Chicks and Mamas bond even before hatching to their peeps and clucks... and these chicks couldn't tell which Mama was theirs.  Mama wars ensued, with little Ms Silkie loosing all but two babies.  Ms Maran is quite capable of mothering all, and the babies sleep with her at night.  Many of my chicken co-mother chicks, especially silkies, who will co-brood a nest and then share the biddies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Macks (Max) is home again

Our Max is home again.  He ran with his Lady Love, Nala, and swam the swollen Appomatox.  She swam back and he was wise enough not to risk the river a second time.  Luckily the Cumberland County Animal Control men saw him and took him, soaking wet, back to the pound.  John Sullivan recognized him from 8 years ago when he ran with deer dogs.  They read his chip.
A very nice couple saw Max and the Pound-men and called Karla Wilson, our niece, at Trueheart Kennels, and then called us.  Karla posted it on Facebook about the time we called the Cumberland pound.
We talked to Mr Sullivan just as he was about to look up Max's chip number.  He told us he knew it was Max and we could come get him, reminding us about the incident long ago.  He didn't charge us for picking Max up and even said he'd meet us at the Bridge into Farmville to deliver Max!  Of course, knowing how tight their budget is we drove out to get him and made a donation.
Max is still pining after Nala, but they're both grounded!  After a few week things will get back to normal, and they can run the fields again, but I pray they stay closer to home.  She's just a teenager, so she takes more risks than I'd like, but I hope he'll be wiser than this last time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Max was found by Animal Control in Cumberland County, VA Thanks to all of you!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Celiac Diagnosis

Yesterday we got the final results of Sam's biopsy:  Celiac damage in his intestine.

So.  Today is 'Fruit basket turnover' day. Research.  Label reading.  Similar to keeping Kosher, Celiac cooking means that the whole house has to become gluten free.  Lots of food I'll try to use for Susan & myself; other I'll give away to BG. Gradually we'll get tight and this will become the new normal.

I have hopes that this will help us all, but time will tell.

I hope that the demeylinating will, at least, halt or slow down.  Time will tell if remyelinating will occur and Sam will be able to walk better.  I've read lots of anecdotal evidence that give me hope, but anecdotes are not data.

Meanwhile my cooking days are starting, again:  Cornbread, Recipe research, etc.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mother's Stories

Frances Virginia Hogan Howton's Childhood

When I proved to my adoring uncle that I could really read I was four and so I was sent to a kindergarten. It proved somewhat less than educational since I could already write my numbers to 100 and really read. I cannot count it a loss because Miss Rubel, my adored teacher, was French and introduced me early to 'Bon jour', 'Au 'evior' (in the south the “r's” were elided as in French) and 'pomme d' terre' – and a love of the French tongue I would not be able to pursue for another 35 years.

She was not lovely, just winsome, I think. Her sister, father and she had left France just after WWI, for whatever reasons, and the older sister, Rose, had married a Birmingham man named Loeb – so Rose Loeb and my mother were friends. You can't think how odd that was. There was no WASP thing then, but still, now that I'm older I wonder that they each were so lonely that for those few years they joined forces.

Loeb was a devoted husband to this beauty he had the fortune to be chosen by, and their daughter, Alice, was as beautiful as her mother. He was enchanted by them both, and had his greatest misfortune to be a traveller in some sort of merchandise. Related to a prominent family, he had found a good job, but to be away from his women was a curse – Perhaps he realized that his life span was not to be so very long; he resented his absences even more -

As I have said, Alice was a beautiful child. I think I must have been eight when the courts decided I should spend the summer with my father. He was seldom around, but the summers at first were fun.

I was free in the early evenings to gallop down the long garden steps to tell tall tales gleaned from Mort d'Arthur and gothic romances to Alice and Mary Bess, who lived one house away. The stories with floors that opened unexpectedly underfoot or the rooms with hidden entrances – all the bit – made a great impression.

And so Mary Bess entered our lives. Until this time Alice and I had been little sister-big sister, but all children are welcome at story-telling time on the curb under the street light, expecting every minute to be called to bed. Sometimes a huge luna moth would come, too, still, I must say Mary Bess was excitable. Perhaps an hysteric.

Her mother, married and a mother very young, had divorced MB's father and remarried. MB's grandmother was in charge of the house and called my aunt, who was in charge of me, about the horror stories I was telling. She called them ghost stories. So I was asked not to. I honestly did not, but changed to fairy tales drawing liberally on Grimm and Anderson. Evidently these upset M. Bess, too. Stories ceased.

The long summer evenings, too, ceased and I spent a lot of time on our front porch steps trying to hear where the cricket was calling from. I was, and am now, very good at that game.

Now that I am writing this, was my family doing me in with Alice? I loved going with her when her father took us over the hills of Birmingham for a ride and showed us how you revved up the hills so as to coast down. He couldn't have been the French-Rose-Rubel's-Knight-in-Armor, but he was a sweet, sweet man.

In any case, Mary Bess's grandmother and my aunt, who was anyone's patsy, got together and Alice was left aside. Her mother was hurt and she couldn't play with what had become US -

My aunt complained that every time M. Bess stepped on a twig and screamed, her heart missed a beat. I was not sorry for her at all.

The last time I saw Alice – or the time I remember most – whatever – she asked, said, “ Why is it that Mary Bess says my people killed Jesus?”

I had wondered, too, and asked around quite a lot, being older. So I said, as I had been told, “ Christ was a Jew who wanted to purify his religion, but a lot of people had a good thing going – they were Jews, too, but they arranged to have him crucified. They got rid of him”

Was that too simple? Was it even right? I don't know.

FHH: Stone Family

My grandmother Ellen Burkett of Barboursville, KY, married twice. Her first husband was known to us later as Mr. Grant. He was possibly kin to the seldom mentioned Ulysses, but he died (of yellow fever?) very soon. Bama came as a beautiful young widow to teach school in Birmingham and was a sensation -or at least when I was in my twenties an old lady told me so.

Young Mrs Grant was a good teacher, too, for while my father's family were notably not fond of my mother, my Aunt Lanie remembered Bama as her first teacher lovingly, and, although Aunt Lanie was considered 'lacking' by the family she read newspapers and ladies magazines daily. This material was known as 'that trash' by my uncles.

And so Bama's catch was a husband who had opened Birmingham's first soda fountain and was doing exceedingly well with it. I know only that Mims Baker Stone was from a reputedly large family from Talladega, or near there. His grandfather must have been well off since I have a large ladle left of the silver melted down for the confederacy. He was a chaplain. The family story is that the first Stone came from Pepperel Co. VA in 1819, fell ill and was taken in and nursed by an old indian who took a mule with empty saddlebags, returned with them full of silver so that Henry Clay(?) Stone could finance a homestead whereon the indian established his home. So many indians were moved West unless they had a sponsor who could protect them. So, goes the tale, Henry went back to Pepperel and married Virginia Lee (her brothers must have come; two of xxx did) and it is true that around Talladega, AL, there are a great many Stone and Lee families. I think Henry ran true to Stone form for he journeyed to New Orleans to the slave market to purchase help, and may have been reduced in fortune by time or misadventures in NO, for the slave he brought back was little, wiry , very black and had filed teeth. He was the father of my mother's beloved nanny who taught her to cook like an angel. (She let no one into the kitchen, but you could watch from the door.) Her father, with his filed teeth, probably did anything that was done on the farm, for the smell of the putative gentleman who was slave to his slave, persists – and it is true that my mother's family preferred almost anything to real work – she herself excluded. How much else is true?

My grandmother having married the nice Mims Stone proceeded to have six children. Her elegant mode of life put a severe stain on Daddy-Papa and when my mother graduated from high school he was bankrupt – both in his business and his marriage. I never knew of a divorce but he left to live with his sister in North Carolina; my grandmother, Bama, took a job (!) traveling for a two year college on the strength of the students she raked up in Birmingham. Virginia and Helen, the older girls, married rather soon after this, Mims, the older son, ran away, and so did Warren, the very handsome younger boy, who joined the Navy at fourteen. Dedi (Whose real name was Bertha and she hated it, so rechristened herself Suzanne and kept her nickname) ran away to be a pony girl in a dance troupe – one of the small end girls who balance the line. The youngest, Martha, was only 12, and stayed with her mother – or rather was in high school at the two year college. All of the girls were very beautiful. Helen the most, my mother close, Dedi was pocked with acne though still very pretty and Martha, the baby of the family, was really lovely, also spoiled and self willed. Mims was the quiet, self effacing one, alone in that. Warren was not tall, but even as an old man, handsome, and the glint in his eye that intrigued so many women was still there. I used to put myself to sleep by counting and naming his six wives; nearly as effective a soporific an the binomial theorem of Apostles Creed.