Through the Viewfinder

Captured, 9/14/2019

Juxtaposition. 9/14/2019, 7:53 pm

Captured, a weekly photo essay. No edits, just a moment captured.

Simplee

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Life

Falling Into Routine

gray concrete roadway beside green and brown leafed trees
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Although autumn hasn’t arrived on the calendar, it certainly feels like it has. Meteorologically, according to the weather person, September first is the beginning of fall for the forecasters. The coffee shops and cafes also have their own fall specialties with pumpkin spice lattes and apple cinnamon muffins appearing on the menu list (for a limited time.) And there are some trees changing colour and dropping their leaves. But those of us who are parents know, the real beginning of fall comes when the school buses and crossing guards return. When the school bell begins to ring again and classes resume. When the sounds of running feet, shouts and laughs fill the school-yard at recess.

I remember how strange it felt the first September I didn’t have school to return to. The back to school sales still caught my attention, stocking up on pens and paper for the rest of the year – a habit formed over at least 17 to 18 years of education. And, it is a habit one returns to when her own child begins their educational experience. Of course, her role in the back-to-school experience dwindles as her child ages…and returns to classes at university.

Fall still seems to be the perfect time to re-establish routines, to set or re-affirm goals, to face down the end of the year and finish it with a bang!

Summer is the season when all the structure and scaffolding of the rest of the year falls away. More adrift than anchored. I am one who likes to be moored. I want to know what is coming up around the bend, I like routine, I like structure. Even as a child, I looked forward to returning to school.

Routines do not have to be so rigid they become ruts. They are really a structure to build one’s day around. Using meals as an example, we have three meals a day, at a set time and they require prep work. That makes it unlikely I will be browsing through the yarn store during that time, but if I want to browse, I can fit it in between meals. It is simply comforting (think of a bedtime routine.) For me, the routine is a harbour, a place to return to, like a coming home. And that is what fall has become – a falling back into routine.

Simplee

Gluten-Free Food

Fluffy Pancakes, Taste Tested

Fluffy Pancakes is a recipe from Gluten-free Cooking for Healthy Living by Einat Mazor. I almost missed finding the recipe, as it was not in the index under pancakes. Instead, I flipped through the section titled “Wake-Up Call” and found the recipe for Fluffy Pancakes. Turns out the recipe was listed in the index under F for fluffy – an alphabetical adjective I didn’t think to look under.

The recipe is simple flour-wise, having only one flour and one starch. As the title of the cookbook suggests, I was expecting the pancakes to be on the healthier side. The recipe calls for white rice flour and potato starch. It was my intention to substitute some brown rice flour for the white rice flour, but there was no brown rice flour in the pantry – so I made the recipe as written. To compensate for the white rice flour, I decided to add blueberries to the pancakes for their health benefits. Fluffy Pancakes did include ground flaxseed.

I reduced the sugar in the original recipe by one tablespoon, feeling that three tablespoons was too much. I am glad that I did, with the blueberries and syrup, they would have been too sweet. I know “cake” is in their name, but pancakes have to sustain the eater until lunch. Pancakes or waffles are a Sunday breakfast tradition, a chance for us all to be at the table before my son leaves for work, so sustenance is an important criteria for me. One other reduction I made to the recipe was cutting the xanthan gum, from 3/4 of a teaspoon to a half teaspoon.

Well…these pancakes lived up to their name. They were fluffy. Adding blueberries to pancake batter often leaves the batter a somewhat greyish blue colour. To avoid this, I added the blueberries to the pancakes after they were poured into the pan. It doesn’t take much extra effort to do so and it ensures every pancake gets an even share of blueberries. As my blueberries were frozen, I thawed them overnight in the fridge.

Topped with generous amounts of sliced bananas, these were a four out of five (according to my husband.) My son liked the pancakes, but would have given a lower score only because of the blueberries. Sometimes there isn’t pleasing everyone! The recipe’s yield was 12 five inch pancakes, using 1/3 cup of batter per pancake. I used 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and my final count was nine pancakes, plus a “two-bite” mini.

Final verdict? These Fluffy Pancakes are truly fluffy. With blueberries and bananas they make a filling breakfast. I will keep them in my rotation for Sunday morning breakfasts (a double batch would do nicely for overnight guests.) I do, however, prefer to have more whole gluten-free grains in my pancakes, so will try substituting those flours in with each subsequent batch.

Simplee

Gluten-Free Food

Gluten Free Deli Style Bread, Taste Tested

Normally, I use Taste Tested to test gluten-free recipes. This week, I am putting a gluten-free product to the test.

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Schar Gluten-Free Deli Style Bread Sourdough caught my attention during a visit to a favourite store which is out of town. I picked it up and put it back, then picked it up again, showed my husband and then asked my son for his opinion. My son used to regularly have rye bread for school lunches; that is until 2013 when he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This gluten-free rye-like bread was, therefore, quite tempting.

The reason we were hesitant was the price. The Schar package had five slices of bread. I will grant that these were large and thick slices, but with a weight of 240 grams, the cost per slice was going to be $1.40. With only five slices, it wouldn’t be possible to make three sandwiches.

Our curiousity and other justifications – a grilled sandwich at the gluten-free bakery is even more expensive, for example – convinced us to give the bread a try.

The first ingredient on the list is cornstarch, but buckwheat flour and sorghum flour both appear further down the list. Each slice has 3 grams of fibre and 4% RDA of iron. I like the fact the bread is preservative free and ‘fresh.’ Stuck together frozen slices of gluten-free bread really takes the convenience out of purchasing bread!

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I made two regular, two slice, sandwiches and cut the final slice in half for a smaller grilled sandwich for myself. The width of the slice meant this was still a hearty sandwich. I brushed the exterior of the bread with olive oil and the sandwiches were filled with thinly sliced apple, grilled chicken, carmelized onions and peppers, cheddar cheese and a mayo-fig spread. Only one sandwich would fit on the press at a time, and they held up really well – no soggy bread!

Final verdict? The Schar Gluten Free Deli Style Bread Sourdough was a treat. Since the store carrying this particular loaf is out of town, it isn’t likely to become a frequent purchase. However, comparing the Schar Deli Sourdough to a Udi’s loaf, at about 400 grams, with a considerably longer ingredient list and the individual slices being quite small, the Schar bread comes out on top. The price point, unfortunately, ensures company won’t get any panini sandwiches made with it.

But, my son hit the nail on the head when he said it still isn’t as good as our homemade gluten-free bread. Homemade will always be the best.

Simplee

Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe

Cider Mill Pancakes

The warm spices of fall – cinnamon, ginger and cloves – and the appearance of fresh apples in bins at the market inspired a pancake recipe which is reminiscent of the aroma at the cider mill we regularly visit each fall. This mill, 170 years old, is still water driven and grinds flours as well as sawing lumber. When you walk in the door, there is the aroma of apples (it has an apple press) and freshly fried apple cider donuts with cinnamon sugar.

The donuts are made fresh when ordered and the little mechanism seems to be constantly on the go. Almost everyone walks out with a brown paper bag with a little grease mark. We no longer eat their donuts, but I discovered a gluten-free apple cider donut to bake for our excursion. It has been important for us to keep our food traditions, finding gluten-free alternatives (ie. recipes) instead.

This morning, as the pancakes were cooking in the skillet, I walked into the front hall to look out the front door. When I stood at the door, the aroma hit me – the cider mill. My husband swears the pancakes taste just like the donuts and thankfully the recipe makes a good amount – as each of the guys ate five!

Gluten-Free Cider Mill Pancakes

yield: 18 pancakes about 4 inches round

Gather:

  • 1/4 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 tbsn brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp, heaping, ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 medium apple, shredded
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 4 tbsn butter, melted (plus more for pan)
  • 1 cup milk

Method:

Use a grater to shred the apple* (I used Paula Red) on the larger size grate and squeeze lemon juice over the shredded apple to prevent it from browning.

In medium mixing bowl, combine almond meal and flours, sugar, baking powder and spices. Whisk to combine. Add shredded apple to flour mixture and combine well. Whisk in eggs, melted butter and milk.

Heat skillet to medium-high temperature. Grease the pan, and when a splash of water sizzles, reduce heat to medium-low. Ladle batter into pan, a scant 2 tablespoons per pancake. Cook pancake until air bubbles appear on surface and golden on the bottom. Flip and cook the other side, until golden. Repeat, regreasing pan as necessary (I find that the first couple of batches require the pan to have a brush with butter, but the pan becomes “seasoned” after that and does not need butter with each batch.)

Keep cooked pancakes warm in a 200F oven on a rack over a baking sheet, until all the batter is used.

*cook’s preference to peel the apple or not – I leave the peel on.

Enjoy.

Simplee

Life · Through the Viewfinder

An Evening in The Sun

My son and I have a few favourite places we like to visit. On Wednesday evening, we managed to visit four of them: a market stand, the pier and boardwalk, a gluten-free bakery/cafe and the donkey sanctuary. The sun was hot and the cicadas hummed overhead (after driving out from under the dark rain clouds en route), the food was good and the company, excellent.

At the end of the pier.
Coming into port.
Walking the boards.
Inspiration is every where.
Stone lending library.
Cafe tables.
Chocolate coated coconut ice dessert.
Donkeys grazing in the evening light.
Can you say hee-haw?
Evening cornfield.

Simplee

 

Gluten-Free Food

Pan Bread, Taste Tested

Pan Bread, not to be confused with pancake, is a recipe I came across on the website Edible Prespective. I stumbled across this site thanks to a cookbook by Ashley McLaughlin, Baked Doughnuts For Everyone, who is also the writer behind the blog. Taste Tests from the cookbook will be coming soon…

This recipe is super-simple. It has only three ingredients, making it a recipe easily memorized – flour, egg, milk. And the recipe is flexible, it calls for 1/4 cup of gluten-free flour (a gluten containing version is also given on the site) and this can be made up with different flour combinations. Millet, buckwheat, oat or rice flours can all be used in any combination. I opted to use two tablespoons each of millet and sorghum flour, and added 1/2 tablespoon of ground flaxseed.

Having some egg whites left over from making pudding, I tried the recipe with both the egg white and whole egg version. There was no noticeable difference between the texture, cook, or taste of either egg version.

The recipe makes one pan bread, but it is easy enough to make up the batter for the next one, while one is cooking. By mixing each batch up individually, there is no need to measure out the batter. Simple recipe, simple technique, mix, pour, cook, flip, fill and eat.

I greased my skillet, as it is not a non-stick pan, and each pan bread flipped easily. Like a pancake the trick is to wait until there are bubbles breaking the top surface before flipping. Another tip, use a long palette knife for turning the pan breads, like a crepe.

I have made this pan bread twice, making four at each go. Think pita or naan bread instead of tortilla. These held up to moist fillings (carmelized onions, peppers, mushrooms) – and there was no cracking when folded in half! I even had success using the breads in a panini press. They kept well for the next day too, stored in a sealed container.

Final verdict? The pan bread is a definite keeper recipe, which I know will get tons of use! I will experiment with different gluten-free flour combinations and make sure my son learns how to make these too.

Simplee