Saturday, January 09, 2010


I just completed my first (although it won't be the last!) batch of Gluten Free New Year's Cookies! They taste great, although not exactly like the MCC version. Thanks to my friend Julie from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. I altered her recipe just a bit simply because I didn't have any arrowroot. Instead I substituted cornstarch. It worked out just fine.

In a previous post I lamented the fact that I hate the taste of white bean flour. I was convinced to give it another shot by Julie who grinds her own flour. She sent me a little package of flour though the mail...wonder what people would have thought if they intercepted that and saw that it was full of some powdery white substance! :) As promised, Julie's flour had just a bit of the beany taste to it, but none when baked into things. Encouraged by this I bought a flour mill and decided to start grinding my own flour. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as I thought it would, and I only could get the flour to a "stone ground" consistency, which won't work with most of my baking. Discouraged, I tried to figure out what to do next. I finally decided that a coffee grinder would work, and so I bought a new one to only use with grinding flours. When I grind the beans at the espresso setting, and run them through 3 times, I finally get the consistency I want. Then I sifted that to get the bigger chunks out. The end product worked great in my recipe today!

Julie's Recipe for New Year's Cookies (Portzelke)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 TBSP yeast
Mix first 3 ingredients and let proof in a warm spot.
Liquid Ingredients
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp melted butter
1 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup white bean flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 TBSP arrowroot flour (I used 3 TBSP corn starch)
1 rounded tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. bakingpowder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 slightly rounded TBSP sugar
1 cup raisins

In mixing bow put in liquid ingredients and beat. Add proofed yeast. Mix dry ingredients and add all at once to liquid. Beat on low until blended, then on high until dough is smooth. Add raisins and beat until mixed evenly. Scrape sides of bowl dw with spatula to form a ball of dough in bottom of bowl. Cover and let rise in warm spot for 30-40 minutes. Heat aout 3/4 inch of oil in a pot or small frying pan. When hot, drop by tsp. a dollop of dough into the ol and fry until golden. I glazed them when I was done, but I know that some people sprinkle sugar on theirs.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Joyous New Year!

School as started again, after a very quick break for Christmas and New Years. I spent most of my "at home" time (the time actually spent in Marion) going through closets and doing general house cleaning.

Christmas Eve I drove home to Hesston. The drive that normally takes 35 minutes or so was well over an hour of hard work driving in zero visibility conditions. It also involved getting stuck in a snow drift not even 2 blocks from my house. I am thankful for good friends and neighbors who help when I come knocking on the door! It took us about 5 minutes, but I was able to get the car out, and I was on my way again! :) I was so glad to finally reach Hesston, and that I made it there with no other mishaps. My nice warm bed at Mom and Dad's was also a blessing!

Christmas day was spent at Mom and Dad's and the rest of the crew showed up mid-morning. We had fun spending time together, giving and receiving presents, and eating the wonderful meal of Raclette that Mom prepared. Highlights of the day: watching Heidi open up her Kitchenaide Mixer; discovering that Gustav has a fear of B-U-Gs; watching Tim's eyes light up as he talked about his plans for his Christmas money and gift certificates; joking with Dad about his new GPS system; enjoying Mom's new tea pot as we played Scrabble and tried to gang up on Tim... I love to spend time with my family, and I realize how blessed I am to have them in my life.

The day after Christmas I spent my time preparing for a catering gig. I traipsed over the hill and through the woods (it felt like it!) carrying large, unwieldy items through the snow and into the Elgin for most of the day. One of my friends, Kym, had referred me to her son as a possible caterer for his wedding. Everything turned out wonderfully in the end (and there have been many nice things said in reference to the cooking), but it was a hectic day for me. Breakers blew, I had to serve out of a closet, warming food up all over the hotel without a proper kitchen, organizing serving help, and general mayhem governed my day. I was glad it went well, but I was also glad to crawl into bed that night. **I was happy to be able to provide a completely gluten free meal (except for the rolls) since his wife has celiac as well!

More time in the next few days was spent cleaning up my house from catering odds and ends, and taking down my tree and Christmas decorations. It seems that I have a lot more room in my house, and it was with a lot of sadness that I put everything in boxes. For some reason the Christmas season passed by more quickly than in other years. I realize that it was the same amount of days, but I'm saddened to realize that maybe I didn't spend enough time in ANTICIPATION during those days. Normally I am sick of the Christmas songs that are playing on the radio, in stores, etc...and in some ways have wished Christmas to come sooner in the past. That is also regrettable...maybe this "wanting more" feeling is better? Maybe I just won't put away all my Christmas music yet, and in that way prolong the Christmas season...after all, there IS snow on the long as I don't look at the calendar I should be ok!

New Year's Eve Mom, Dad and I drove up to NE to spend time with my mom's family. We didn't get off as early as anticipated that morning, due to a mechanical problem with their vehicle. Instead, we spent time trying to fix the problem--all solutions for the problem led to the term "Redneck"... I had fun teasing Dad about what all of his neighbors would think of this! We finally decided just to take my vehicle, so I've now broken in my new Mitsubishi on a longish road trip. Driving through NE was beautiful! The drifts were HUGE, and the sculpting of snow by wind amazes me. The farm is always a special place for me. I love to spend time with my family there. We spend a lot of time laughing and teasing, playing games with each other, reading and relaxing, curled up next to the wood stove or fire place, eating good food, and just being with each other. I know that we were all glad that Heidi, Tim and Gustav were able to join us this year after 3 years of not being together.

As always, the break seemed to slip by and I still have a list of things that I need to get accomplished. I'll just have to break it down and do one thing each night and get it done. Somehow I don't see that happening! :)

I am beginning the process of admittance to Grad School for FALL 2010. Last fall I had researched different options, and had narrowed it down to either Fort Hays State, or Wichita State. Both offer online masters programs, which would work best for me. I can continue teaching and still take my classes. This morning I sent in my application for FHSU, and have been busy asking my director and coworkers to submit letters of recommendation for me. I need to spend some time over the next few days writing a letter of personal statement. If any of you have done this yourself, I'd welcome a copy to look over. Once that it all in place I need to start the scholarship process. My list of things "to do" won't be getting any smaller anytime soon!

Happy New Year to all of you!
With love,