Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"New" recipes

I've been baking again. This time I'm not really creating, but altering some well-loved recipes so that I can eat them.

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas season come many memories of tastes I love. As the years go by, I'm sure that I'll have the chance to recreate many of the things I miss. For now I've tackled peppernuts and dill bread.

My cousin Patrick, who was also recently diagnosed with celiac, called me about a month ago wondering about how to go about making peppernuts. Which flours should be used, etc... Peppernuts were not something that I had thought about yet, but when there is more than just me involved, I have more of a reason to start playing. Sometimes it seems like a waste to bake, since it is just me that will eat it although it is something I love to do, it hasn't been a priority lately. Honestly, I'm thankful that Patrick has joined my "team" (and yes, I realize that is very selfish!)...I realize that it is probably a burden for him and for Abbe, but for me it means that there is someone I can call and talk to; someone I can brainstorm with and exchange thoughts and suggestions with; someone that misses the same things I do... It's actually very comforting for me.

When he first called I made some suggestions on where to start for flour mixes. He called his Grandma Schmidt and got the anise Recipe he grew up with, while I focused on the Buller family recipe. One of the people I've met up with on this journey and befriended is Julie from the website Mennonite Girls Can Cook. A fellow celiac, she shares her Mennonite recipes that have been altered to be gluten free. We've been teaming up to figure out a better version of zwiebach, but that has taken a backseat at this point. I figured that I should send an email off to Julie and see whether she had done anything with peppernuts before I tried reinventing the wheel. She hadn't, but was happy to help me as I tried to figure out what would work. She quickly came up with a recipe that would work, and sent it back to me. What followed was a wonderful experience! :) I tried making peppernuts with the flour mix that she suggested. As I mixed them up, I tasted between each addition to see how the dough changed. After the last addition I tasted again, and promptly threw the dough in the trash. While that sounds awful...the truth is that I've finally figured out what tastes so bad to me in gluten free baking and that makes me want to jump up and down and clap my hands. I've been baking for a year now, and I had never been able to determine what it was, but now I KNOW!!!! My mouth and stomach can not stand bean flours. I can not even describe what the taste does to me. I didn't want to completely abandon the idea though, so I tried to figure out what else I could use. What follows is my take on the original Buller recipe (with many thanks to Julie for her help! Her take on the recipe is on the MGCC website!). ***Disclaimer: I'm still fiddling with this recipe. When I baked them out, they became very flat, not the rounded ones I grew up with. The taste (which is most important!) is there though! :)

Gluten Free Peppernuts
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, creamed
1 egg
2 rounded tsp. sour cream or plain yogurt

1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/ cup teff flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 rounded tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Today I'm preparing for our annual family Thanksgiving celebration. With such a large family, it isn't fair to expect one person to do all the cooking, so for as long as I can remember, each family has contributed to the feast. As the cousins have grown up we've also started being responsible for different aspects of the meal. Since I've always loved baking I started volunteering to bring the bread for the day when Grandma B was no longer able to. Even with my celiac diagnosis I've continued to make the breads. Today I made 2 loaves of white bread and one loaf of gluten free bread. Last year I brought only "regular" breads, figuring that I wouldn't miss it with so much other food on the table. I wish that had been the case. This year I'm bringing bread so that I don't feel like I'm missing out on something.

One of my favorite breads is Dill bread. When I was in college Carmen and Patrick's grandmother, Helen Schmidt, adopted me and invited me to all the family meals. This may sound strange to those of you who realize that I went to college less than 40 miles from where I grew up, but I've decided that a person can never have too many grandparents, too many cousins, too many family members.... At every meal I was invited to, Grandma Schmidt would have zwiebach and dill bread. I could never eat enough of the dill bread...slice after slice (and now I know just how bad that was for me!)... Grandma Schmidt is coming to our Buller Thanksgiving tomorrow. I can't wait to have her try my Gluten Free version of the bread she's made for so many meals! :)

Gluten Free Dill Bread (original recipe from the More-with-Less Cookbook)

1 pkg. yeast (in the Pamela's Bread Mix)
1/4 cup warm water

Combine in Mixing Bowl:
1 pkg Pamela's Bread Mix
2 t. dill seed
1/2 T. minced onion (if using dried minced onion, rehydrate before putting in)

In measuring cup combine:
1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup oil
warm water to fill until 1 3/4 cup mark

Stir well to combine. Let rice in greased bowl to double in size. Punch down. Put into a bread pan. Let rise again. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and brush with melted margarine.

**I also make this in the bread machine on the dough cycle if I need to be doing other things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2 months flew by

Yes, yet again I have waited far too long to write a blog. It has been months between posts, and I’ve had many “friendly” reminders from several of you…

Highlights of the past 2 months: Oktoberfest celebrated with the Huber’s and their friends; a QUICK trip to Seattle to attend the wedding of my cousin Patrick to his beautiful bride, Abbe; Taste of Autumn (wine tasting event out in the boonies—beautiful art strewn on the Kansas prairie, with tasting stations of appetizers paired with wines—always a good time with the friends I go with!); two, yes TWO, trips to see the musical WICKED while it was in Wichita; a garage sale at my house; as well as a wonderful overnight visit from my dear sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.

There has been much more squeezed into days in between, but it consists of the activities that most would consider mundane.

My last weeks at school have been very eventful. I’ve had a new student that came, and then left within a week. He has found a new school home, one that is much better suited to his needs. I can’t really tell much information about this situation, and certainly not on this blog, but I should say that his needs consumed all of every single day of last week. There are times that people ask why I chose the profession I did, and then further question me as to why I stay. Last week was one of the times that I questioned myself about that. The answers I keep coming back to are that these students need me, that I make a difference in their lives, and that not many others will spend that time with them and believe in them. I AM needed, even if I feel unappreciated.

To top off my excellent week at school, I also made a large purchase. My car has slowly become less reliable (it’s served me so well!), and last week reached a point where a large sum of money would have to be paid to repair it. After many conversations with my father and others, I decided that I should probably start looking for a new car. On Saturday, Dad and I went to Wichita with the intentions of purchasing a new Suzuki. Our plans changed, and I ended up buying a used 09 Mitsubishi Galant. I was sad to say goodbye to my little Malibu (especially the sunroof!), but I have to admit I’m enjoying my new car.

I’ve been spending much of my time lately in the kitchen. Last night I started a batch of Gluten Free Buller peppernuts. The first batch tasted awful and went in the trash. The second batch is now in the fridge waiting to be rolled out and baked tonight. I’m hopeful that they will end up close to what I remember. I also baked a loaf of Gluten Free cinnamon raisin bread last night, which made the house smell wonderful. Tonight will consist of baking 4 loaves of “regular” bread (2 white, and 2 with raisins/cinnamon), as well as starting soup preparations for the big shindig this weekend. I need to also start thinking about pies, and getting those prepared.

In this time of preparation for Thanksgiving, and the Christmas season as well, I should say that I have much to be thankful for. Just a few days ago, the 1 year mark of when I had my thyroid surgery passed. It's hard to believe that it has been 1 year. It's been a year of major adjustments for me, but there has always been good that came from the changes in my life. I have SO much to be thankful for!

Hoping to update soon with a new Gluten Free Peppernut recipe to share, as well as a few pictures.

Love to all of you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


My sister makes fun of me for many things, but one of the things she has teased me about lately is my use of acronyms when chatting online with her. While my chatting and texting vocabulary is not as large as the average 8 year olds, it IS much larger than hers since she's been out of the country for 3 years now.. One of the latest I've learned is PTL, which a friend used on her facebook update. I had to ask to find out what she was actually saying, and since then I've seen it several more times, and the messages make so much more sense now! :)

PTL: The first week of school has passed. There were several bumps and bruises along the way, but I'm sure things will get ironed out in the next few weeks. This first week has left me very tired, and ready to go to bed at 4:00 when my day at school ends. I've also been doing several massages each Tues. and Thurs. evening, and on Saturdays. The juggling of the two jobs and my normal things around the house (mowing, laundry, dishes, etc...) have made me so tired that I haven't even attempted going to the pool. I'm still hopeful that I will be able to add that back in soon....

PTL: My Dell computer arrived and several days ahead of schedule. I'm slowly loading the programs I use onto it, and spending some time playing and discovering what all I've got.

PTL: Heidi and Tim have found a house, and will be moving their things in starting Thursday. This means the state wide storage rooms will be emptied, and all items will be happily joined together in Newton, not far from Shalom. I'm sure that much excitment and jubilation will be felt as Heidi and Tim unpack boxess and rediscover their long-lost belongings.

PTL: Sunday's special music at church turned out much better than the fiasco it could have been. I'm so thankful that most in the congregation have/had no idea what all transpired.

PTL: I've been blessed by my family who love and support me, who care about me, care for me when I need them, and laugh with me. I can't imagine a better family to be a part of.

PTL: Good friendships make my life so much better. I was able to share dinner with several friends last night at my home, and our laughter until 10:30 last night has caried me through the day today. I've been graced with more friends than I can count, I have many more than "my fair share".

Hopefully you've figured out what PTL stands for (or maybe you already knew!)...if not, try to use your context clues! :) I would love to hear what others come up with!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The last few days

The new school year has begun. So far I've had 3 days of inservice, next Monday will be a work day, and then the children start rushing through the doors on Tuesday. In the space of a week's time, my caseload has grown by 3 students, which is good and bad. With those students come some new personalities, and much more juggling of schedules, whether my own or planning my paraprofessional's. My classroom still looks pretty messy, but I'm hoping that everything will be in place by Monday at 4:00 when I send my paras home.

We've also really begun to feel the economic stress of this year within our county and district. Budgets have been slashed, or are non-existent...we're all being lectured on money saving strategies and conserving resources...and we've been told to buckle down and prepare for the worst. Jobs (for this year at least) are protected...but we've been told to be thankful that we still have them. While things are bad for the special education cooperative that I work for, they are much worse in the district, and more specifically, for the regular education teacher. One of the smartest decisions I ever made was getting my special education degree. I am protected from so many things because of my SPED degree. I have no worries about ever losing my job, which is quite a relief! I also am assured of a quick hire if/when I go looking for a different job. The entire situation really hit home today when I was told by my principal that a para that we had already "hired" had really not been hired because they had decided not to fill the position. While I haven't talked to the director about this situation, I'm fairly certain that there simply is not enough money to hire to replace the para position. This is especially difficult, not only because of the loss of an additional set of hands and presence in the classroom, but because I consider the person that was "hired" to be a personal friend. This person had already gone to 2 days of inservice, and the principal then had to break the news that he really didn't have a job.

Another frustration this week was the death of my laptop. While it was 6 years old, and basically obsolete I was hoping that I could eke out a few more months of service. Thankfully I took some time back in May to clean it off, and so I only lost a few conversations and documents. It could have been so much worse! I was so thankful that cousin Patrick was available to talk to me, and counsel me on whether I should try to repair it or trash it and buy a new one. After determining it was most likely the hard-drive, I quickly came to the conclusion (and Patrick agreed!) that a new computer was in my future. I would have liked to wait until October when there will be a new operating system available, but...I do use my computer all the time at home for working from home for SPED and massage and communication with family, friends and school matters... I'm anxiously awaiting the delivery of my new Dell... I think I got a fairly good computer for not too much money--and I REALLY appreciate the Dell Educator Discount. Every little bit helps!

This past week I've been spending much of my time gathering vegetables from friends and their gardens. I've canned green beans, several batches of salsa, homemade italian sauce, and cantaloupe. Yes! I said I canned cantaloupe! :) It is amazing! Maybe if you're lucky you'll get some for Christmas! Tonight I've started some dough for Whole Wheat Pizza mini crusts that will be finished off tomorrow, and I've baked a cherry coffee cake.

Tomorrow brings two massages at the clinic, house cleaning, and the arrival of my Aunt Terri. Terri will be staying overnight with me, and then heading back to Nebraska after picking up a kitten for a friend. Mom, Dad, Heidi, Tim and Gustav will be joining Terri and me for supper tomorrow night, and I'm eager to spend time with all of them. My house desperately needs to be cleaned, and I'm hoping that it all gets done before Terri arrives!

I believe the last time I wrote I mentioned that I would be getting an MRI to see whether there was a tumor on my pituitary gland. I went back to the doctor this week, and was happy to hear that there is no tumor! :) While I still don't have as much energy as I would like, I'm coming to the realization that this may just be something I have to live with. I am happy that most of my other side effects have been clearing up with the help of the medications that she has prescribed. I am hopeful that that continues. The real test will be next week when I head back to the pool in the mornings (or at least that is my intention!). I may have to ease into it. I know that I'll want to (and expect myself!) to be able to swim several miles at one time, and then head to school like I was doing last year, plus go back in the evenings and swim some more. I'll have to sit down and try to figure out a schedule of when I go, allowing for rest time, and easing into the longer amounts of swimming. I guess I'd rather do that than crash and burn...although I think I'll end up being very frustrated with myself.

Love to all of you!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Europe Pictures--in random order, sorry!

Gustav enjoys nutella and peanut butter sandwiches on picnics. I think he really just enjoys licking the filling out. But then again, who wouldn't? :)

Gustav loved splashing in the cool, clean lake!

Heidi, Tim and Gustav

Sister time.


Evening at the lake our greatgreat grandfather fished in.

Kerstin, Gulvi and Willi

Tim and Gustav relaxing in the shade--Sweden was very warm while we were there!

Cousin Gulvi

The cottage--it has no running water, so Willi and Gulvi have to lug it with them all the time.

Willi got a workout pulling Gustav all over. They were very good friends!

Exploring the property.

Cousins Gulvi and Willi's land and cottage.

Oversized and undersized--we had lots of fun climbing on these at Astrid Lindgren World.

Gustav's throne.

Playing in the rock fountains.

It took Gustav awhile to figure out what was happening, but once he did, he didn't want to leave.

Heidi and Tim discussing the very "American" never ending drinks with your meals at Astrid Lindgren World--this included lingonberry juice and BEER! What a great place!

Drinking Lingonberry juice with dinner. Yum! :)

Our Swedish family at the cottage.

Gustav rearranging the furniture at the little houses at Astrid Lindgren World--he loved to move the tables and chairs around.

Playing at Astrid Lindgren World--the houses were more Gustav sized than Erica sized.

Exploring the area around the fish smoker.

Sampling the finished product--Gustav was a big fan.

Finished product--salmon, eel and trout.

Talking about spices used to flavor the fish and how to package it.

Fish smoker describing the history of the place and the smoking process.

Raw fish getting ready for the smoker.

Cousin Anders, our tour leader.

On the sea at the fish smoker. Cousin Kerstin, Heidi and Gustav.

Partially packed vehicle--no where near done, and so much more to find places for.

Gustav and Heidi relaxing.

My baby "sister" Eliane.

Goodbye gifts from the Hausgemeinshaft.

Fun in the kitchen while cleaning up the party.

Kristin and Eliane--so glad I got to see both of them, and I really wish they lived closer to us!

Laughing at some story Heidi and Kristin were telling.

The church sending and farewell service for Heidi, Tim and Gustav.

Gustav loves taco salad, enough so that he grabbed a chair and hoisted himself up to the table to eat out of the bowl at the farewell party. Either that, or we weren't feeding him enough.

Kristin and Heidi making caramel corn. Very sticky, and much discussion over which is the best way to eat caramel corn--crunchy bits or sticky balls? We all have our favorites! :)

Tim was in charge of beverages for the party, and this is only a portion of what was purchased. I think he did an excellent job of calculating how much to buy. I would have loved to try the beers he bought, they certainly looked and smelled good!

Gustav loves to observe from his window and watch the people who reside in the Hausgemeinshaft. And, of course, everything is much better if you're doing it naked, right?!? :)

Gustav "helping" Kristin roll out cinnamon roll dough. I'm not sure who ate more dough...Kristin or Gustav. :)

Eating the dough...not sure she did this before meeting Heidi and picking up a "bad" habit.

Bedtime stories for Gustav and Kristin.

Cooking with Gustav, he's always very eager to help and sample.

Gustav's bathtime. He loves playing in the water, and has changed quite a bit from that first bath I witnessed so long ago. No more screaming! :)

Kristin and I relaxing in the shade, enjoying fresh strawberries and currants while watching Gustav run naked in the sun!

Gustav waving "Tschuss" before heading to bed.

Setting up the grill for the big farewell party.

Eliane at the farewell party.

Heidi "sleeping" in Gustav's bed...I think this was an attempt to quiet a tantrum. :)