Sourdough!

Anyone else out there tried bread making?  I’ve made bread sporadically for years, as I’m always drawn back to my childhood memories of my mom pulling freshly baked bread out of the oven and slathering it with butter.  Oh, so good.  But lately I’ve been trying to make a decent loaf of sourdoubreagh bread, and as I’ve learned, sourdough can be tricky!  I’ve been trying for the past few months and I won’t tell you how many loaves of bread have gone STB ( bakers terms for ‘straight to breadcrumbs’) but it was quite a few.  But this week I finally produced something I’m happy with…

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It had good density and rose well and I almost feel like I should whisper this… but I made it all with wheat, maybe 60% whole wheat.  I used wheat from our local mill Arva Flour Mill,  and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

And yes, even though we enjoy other grains in this house such as spelt and rye, I purposely wanted to make a sourdough loaf made from 100% wheat.  This is because even though wheat has been badly maligned lately and given the status as public enemy #1,  I’ve recently read this book and it’s given me a whole new perspective…

grainoftruth

Grain of Truth is a fantastic book and I would say that it’s a must read for anyone who has though of giving up wheat even though they aren’t celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitive.

I learned so much.  Stephen Yafa is a journalist who thought he would take a good look at wheat and gluten and I believe that I walked away thoroughly informed as this man has done his research well.

He first looks at the current North American fad of of blaming wheat and the gluten it contains for all of America’s obesity and health woes.  Who doesn’t love a scapegoat?  But when he reveals some of the pseudo-science behind the thinking and also points out that Italians eat twice as much wheat per capita as the Americas and they don’t have near the obesity issues that we do… what is a girl to believe?

Well one glaring fact that jumps off the page is how we treat wheat here.  Did you know that only 4% of the wheat in the US is milled whole, as in “whole wheat”!!!!!  Now that’s frightening.  The rest is processed  into ‘white flour’ where all the vitamins, minerals and fiber are stripped away from wheat’s endosperm and given to animals as feed, and we are left with a source of quick but short-duration energy from that white endosperm.  That quick energy quickly by-passes your liver and heads straight to your blood steam for a nice quick sugar rush, that is totally devoid of minerals of vitamins, except what has been added back in after the fact so that people don’t get sick. True story.

To get this nice lovely white wheat (that doesn’t even spoil by the way) mills all the way back in the late 1800’s had to switch from milling with stones to rollers to more efficiently separate the wheat from it’s endosperm.  And as the demand for white flour grew, doctors started seeing a rise in coronary heart disease, diabetes and gastrointestinal problems that they suspected were linked to the influx of refined carbs people were eating.  But, and here’s the tragic part…. we kept right on eating it!   Who wants grainy whole wheat when you can have fluffy white.   Except in giving up whole wheat we are also giving up all the health benefits of the minerals, vitamins and fibre.  Not only that, but white flour is typically further refined into worse junk where they add more sugar and fat, increasing it’s glycemic load on our bodies and making us sicker and fatter!  Oh, and that fibre we’re missing out on that’s been stripped away?  Well it’s important to our digestive health.  Not only does it keep things moving along, it also regulates your blood sugar,  and that fibre also provides a lovely home for beneficial bacteria which we need to keep our guts healthy & happy.

And here is why eating gluten free if you aren’t gluten sensitive can come back to kick you in the butt… most gluten free flour doesn’t contain alot of fibre, so it’s also by-passing your liver and heads straight to your bloodstream.  And that’s not good news.

Stephen also talks our current wheat crop – and yes, wheat has been altered.   It had to be to stave off an impending famine in India back in the 1960’s.  The man who gave us the wheat we have today was given the Nobel prize for saving so many lives.  So our wheat today is a cross-breed, known for it’s short stalks and high yield, but it’s not genetically modified (yet) nor does it have more gluten than wheat used to have.   It does have it’s draw-backs, as in the type of fertilizer it needs to produce,  but as it’s feeding millions of people every day, and providing 20% of the world’s daily calories, I think we have alot to be grateful for.  And more and more people are cultivating ancient varieties of wheat and many of them can be sourced locally, so you aren’t stuck with just plain, there are other options out there if you choose.

However, there is another important thing that Stephen talks in his book and that’s fermenting wheat – the result of which is sourdough bread.  Sourdough bread has already been pre-digested in a sort of way by a culture of beneficial yeast and bacteria that are happy to live together.  This culture is formed as a ‘starter’ (you can do it yourself, or even buy ready made starters), and when it’s added to bread dough and left to work it’s magic from 12-18 hours, it ferments the dough, the yeast and bacteria create lactic acid which creates the air-pockets and leaven the dough without adding dried yeast.  And it also breaks down gluten into digestible fragments and over-all makes the wheat more digestible.  And I can even attest to that.  I have known for ages now that refined flour makes me bloat like crazy – especially if that refined flour has more sugar added to it.  Even pasta makes me uncomfortable, but I can eat my whole wheat sourdough bread without any problems – I feel great, it’s nice!

So in my conclusion on my book review here… I would really compare this book to being similar to  Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food“.   Michael used his journalist research to cut through all the differing opinions we hear about food and his conclusion was “Eat Food. Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  And if Stephen had a conclusion from “Grain of Truth” it would be something along the lines of… you can eat wheat, whole, stone milled and preferably fermented. Which is great news for wheat.  And great news for me… I’m going to go bake some more sourdough bread!  Thanks Stephen!

P.S. If you want to try your hand at making your own sourdough starter and sourdough bread – check out this link, email me,  or just ask Google.

 

I love these cookies…

My mom always manages to find the best books and this year at Christmas she didn’t disappoint.  She gave the girls these oh-so-sweet Cookie books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal...

They are basically cookie dictionaries… a really yummy way for children to learn the meaning of big words.  From the first book one of my favourite pages says…  “PROUD means, My chin is high, and I sure do like the way my cookies turned out. ”  And then the next page says… “MODEST means you don’t run around telling everyone you make the best cookies, even if you know it to be true.”     I think the concept she uses is so simple but understandable,  I love it!!

From the Sugar cookies book, “FORGIVE means, I needed some time to get over what you said about my cookies – ’cause that wasn’t very nice – but now I think I’m ready to play with you again.”   And then the definition of selfless, “No, really, please, I want you to have the last cookie.

Oh these books are just as sweet as the cookies they are about and I really enjoy reading them to the girls.  And it’s such a great teaching tool too, not only the meaning of works, but also values like being trustworthy.  In the cookie dictionary trustworthy means, “If you ask me to hold your cookie until you come back, when you come back, I will still be holding your cookie.”   That one really spoke to Sarah and it’s neat that we can talk about it and I can refer back to the book to remind her of things like being modest and trustworthy.

I am giving these book 2 thumbs up and they are definitely books worth investing in for that special little someone in your life!

Mike Teavee

So the other day we were at Jay’s parents and I grabbed some old children’s books for Erik one of the books was  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  This book was a favourite of mine as a kid so I’ve been reading it and tonight I found this poem… and loved it even though I don’t remember it at all.

And to think that Roald Dahl wrote this book in 1964.  And if it was true then, I hate to think what he would think of TV now.

Anyway, to get back to my point, this is the song that the Oompa-Loompa’s  sang to Mike Teavee after his passionate love of TV got him shrunk to the size of an inch in Willy Wonka’s factory… enjoy…

“The most important thing we’ve learned,

So far as children are concerned,

Is never, NEVER, NEVER let

Them near your television set –

Or better still, just don’t install

The idiotic thing at all,

In almost every house we’ve been,

We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out.

(Last week in someone’s place we saw

A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)

They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they’re hypnotised by it,

Until they’re absolutely drunk

With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,

They don’t climb out the window sill,

They never fight or kick or punch,

They leave you free to cook the lunch

And wash the dishes in the sink –

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?

IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!

IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!

IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!

IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND

HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND

A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!

HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!

HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!

HE CANNOT THINK – HE ONLY SEES!

‘Al right!” you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,

‘But if we take the set away,

What shall we do to entertain

Our darling children?  Please explain!’

We’ll answer this by asking you,

‘What used the darling ones to do?

Before this monster was invented?

Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?

We’ll say it very loud and slow:

THEY… USED…TO…READ!  They’d READ and

READ,

AND READ and READ, and then proceed

To READ some more.  Great Scott!  Gadzooks!

One half their lives was reading books!

The nursery shelves held books galore!

Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,

More books were waiting to be read!

Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales

Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales

And treasure isles, and distant shores

Where smugglers rowed witih muffled oars,

And pirates wearing purple pants,

And sailing ships and elephants,

And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,

Stirring away at something hot.

(It smells so good, what can it be?

Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)

The younger ones had Beatrix Potter

With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,

And squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,

And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and –

Just How the Camel Got His Hump,

And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,

And Mr. Toad and bless my soul,

There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole –

Oh, books, what books they used to know,

Theose children living long ago!

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in it’s place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books,

Ignoring all the dirty looks,

The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,

And children hitting you with sticks –

Fear not, because we promise you

That, in about a week or two

Of having nothing else to do,

They’ll now begin to feel the need

Of having something good to read.

And once they start – oh boy, oh boy!

You watch the slowly growing joy

That fills their hearts.  They’ll grow so keen

They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen

In that ridiculous machine,

That nauseating, foul, unclean,

Repulsive television screen!

And later, each and every kid

Will love you more for what you did.

P.S. Regarding Mike Teavee,

We very much regret that we

Shall simply have to wait and see

If we can get him back his height.

But if we can’t – it serves him right.

A fabulous poem Mr. Dahl!

So sorry my darlings, there are just too many reasons here for keeping the TV off!

God didn’t die for frogs…

In this season of Lent – the time coming up to Easter I’ve been reading “Fifty Reasons why Jesus came to Die” by John Piper.    I’m ashamed to say that I started at the beginning to Lent and today I only read #5 –  “To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners”  and something really struck me…

“I have heard it said, “God didn’t die for frogs.  So he was responding to our value as humans.”  This turns grace on its head.  We are worse off than frogs.  They have not sinned.  They have not rebelled and treated God with the contempt of being inconsequential in their lives.  God did not have to die for frogs.   They aren’t bad enough.  We are.  Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice could pay for it.
          There is only one explanation for God’s sacrifice for us.   It is not us. It is “the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.)  It is all free.  It is not a response to our worth.   It is the overflow of his infinite worth.  In fact, that is what divine love is in the end: a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, his infinite beauty.”

Oh – treating God with the contempt of being inconsequential in my life?   That hurts.  Time to refocus and get my priorities right again!

Babycakes Review

    I picked this book up from the Library because it was on display and those cup-cakes looked so yummy!   And to top it off, this cook-book is all vegan and mostly gluten-free and mostly sugar-free!!!  

 The author is Erin McKenna and she has a bakery in NYC where she bakes and sells all these yummy treats – those lucky New Yorker’s!

She has a few recipes that use spelt flour, but for the most part, she uses a combination of alternative flours in all her recipes that completely replace wheat.    It’s funny, but I seem to be meeting more and more people who are avoiding wheat and – and if you are one of those people, I would highly recommend this cookbook, being able to make yummy things even with diet restrictions is HUGE, as I have recently discovered.

And I am very excited about her recipe for vanilla frosting that does not include dairy (which Sophy seems to be sensitive too) and it just seems a little bit better for you – she uses soy milk, soy milk powder, and coconut oil to name a few ingredients, but the end results look amazing!  And she even has tips to naturally dye your frosting to avoid those chemically laden food colours which for those of us who have kids who are sensitive to artificial colour, is fantastic. 

So even though we don’t have wheat problems here, it’s still a great cookbook and I can’t wait to try to make her Apple-cinnamon toastie – pg 58 or her gingersnaps – pg 67!

I am Hutterite – Book Review

This is a book I just picked up at the library – but really enjoyed it.  First off, I didn’t even know that there was a group of people called Hutterites – and then I found out there are over 45,000 of them in Canada!

This is a facinating book with a real insight into this culture.    I felt like I was living in the colony along with Mary-Ann and her parents and really enjoyed sharing her life.   The Hutterite colony reminded me in way of what it would be like to live at a church camp,  eating together as a group and going to church every night, and being with the same people all the time, as well as helping one another with everything.  And there were some key things that I loved about how the community works, like when a woman has  baby, they bring her special foods for 6 weeks (how wonderful!) and then she is able to choose a younger girl from the community to help her with the children and housework (better yet!).

When Mary-Ann’s parents left the community, they endured many hardships, and Mary-Ann and her siblings found it a challenge to understand and fit into their new world.  But through it all her mother’s faith in God really shines through and I’m sure that in many ways that was what kept them going and was the key to their success.   The book did leave me wondering where Mary-Ann’s own faith is at, I might have to contact her and ask. 

I would definitly recommend this book!