Saturday, February 27, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4….5…6, 7, 8, 9, 10….11…12…13!!!!

The other night when Heidi, Tim and Gustav came over I sang this to Heidi to see whether she could remember the song and where it came from. She did. Do you?

This past week I’ve been singing this song quite a bit. We’re counting down the days until state testing, and to help prepare have turned our little small groups into test prep groups. We’ve each taken a state standard and planned several days’ worth of activities for our groups, and then rotated the groups so that each child in the grade will have a session with that particular standard. Because of how few days we have left, one of our groups got combined with another group, and now instead of the 3 or 4 students that a small group normally consists of, my group was made up of 12 students…plus me (everyone shout now—13!!). I sang that song over and over this week as I gave questions to my “small” group, and each time a hand would raise with an answer, I would count them as I sang this song. The kids loved it…and I finally asked whether any of them knew this song. Nope. Guess I’m officially old. I explained that this was a song from one of my favorite shows growing up. “Teletubbies” they guessed. “Barney!” they shouted out… ok, maybe I’m getting younger?  I explained it was a show that is around now, but would have also been around when I was a little girl… This stumped them until one of them guessed “Ben and Jerry”…well, I guess black and white cartoons are getting closer…or at least older… Finally one of them guessed Sesame Street, although none of them had heard this song when they watched. It’s too bad, since I loved watching the pinball machine knock around as the ball hit each peg and a number was sung… I remember looking forward to it each day as I watched, hoping that this would be the day that it would be shown again.

Heidi’s been begging for another blog (I truly think she’s the only one who reads this thing…and we talk often enough that she knows everything before I would write something down and post it) so here it is…

As I thought about what I wanted to write today, there are several things that popped into my head. There’s been a lot going on in my life, and while some of it I would like to share, I really can’t. I am bound my confidentiality responsibilities in my jobs, and I must honor them, even when those things are the things in my life that cause me the most sadness, that give me the most happiness, or those things that I just need to process through writing about it. I’ll just leave it to say that I’ve shed a lot of tears lately. The tears come at times that are understandable…they come at times when I can’t make them stop, no matter how hard I try…there are times that the tears come and there appears to be no good reason for them… a few will drop as I laugh… I don’t feel depressed (please don’t worry about that), there’s just a lot going on in all aspects of my life right now and it seems that tears are the way my body is dealing with it all.

One of the titles I considered today was “Small Successes”, but in reality I’ve got a lot of LARGE successes in my life right now.
1) I just got the letter that I was deemed eligible to take my National Massage Exam. This is a very difficult exam, and most do not pass it on the first try. Kansas law does not regulate massage therapists, but most states require the national test as one of the hurdles you need to jump to be able to practice massage. Not knowing what the future holds for me, I’d rather take (and hopefully pass!) the exam so that I can easily be able to practice in another state if/when I ever decide to move. That and the fact that it provides another aspect of credibility to me and my massage practice. Who knows when Kansas will finally become wise and start patrolling the field of Massage Therapy. Hopefully it will be soon (there are too many people out there practicing who don’t know what they are doing, and give us all a bad reputation!), and then I will be ready. I need to finalize my test date, but I’m hoping to take it sometime during Spring Break in March.
2) I also got my acceptance letter from Fort Hays State University. This fall I will be “heading back to” college to pursue a Master’s Degree in Special Education. This is completely online, so I won’t have to give up my teaching position or move. I’ll be busy between teaching, working at the clinic, and taking classes, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to juggle it all. The last weeks have been full of writing personal letters, asking friends and colleagues to write recommendations on my behalf and researching how to make it all happen. I’ve gotten my taxes completed (at least my portion!) and taken them to my tax guy. I am hoping they get done quickly so that I can then complete the FAFSA and start applying for scholarships.
3) Wine making experiment one is almost complete. After watching my science experiment for the last few weeks, I needed some man-power. I convinced Heidi, Tim and Gustav to come over for dinner and afterwards Tim and Gustav helped me bottle my Riesling. It’ll be another 3 months before there will be any to drink. Tim was a great help to me in the process, and Gustav was so cute trying to hold the bottles still for me as we filled them. Now that we’ve got one bottled, I better start on another…either mead or a red wine this time.
4) After several weekend attempts at baking sweet rolls, I’ve finally got a good result. A couple weeks ago I was browsing in Heidi’s bookstore and stumbled across another gluten free cookbook. Normally I’m pretty leery of gluten free recipes…there are too many people out there that are satisfied with mediocrity…either they are gluten intolerant people who never really had a taste of what GOOD baking is supposed to taste like, or they are “normal” people who think that those of us that are gluten intolerant should just be satisfied with whatever they come up with. There are so many products on the market (they are SOOOO expensive) that just taste like CRAP. I’m sick of buying products and throwing them away. I’ve narrowed it down to a few brands that I trust, and I’d really rather go hungry than try to eat some of what is on the market. Sorry, I’ve probably offended someone now, but sometimes I just need to rant.  But, I digress… Anyway, I decided to buy the book at Heidi’s store because I feel like I need to help support the people I love and the places they work, and I’m always hoping that somehow this product/book/gadget will actually come through and help me make the foods I’ve loved to prepare and eat for so much of my life. In this case…I might have actually stumbled across something that lived up to my high expectations! Yippee!!!

Of course, this book also called for flours that aren’t readily available in my pantry, or at the health food store or grocery stores that I frequent. So, I turned to the internet (although Terri, if you’re reading this, I think that your health food store has this brand!) and ordered some of the flour that I needed. After last week’s flopped cinnamon rolls, I was reluctant to try again. After all, that batch went directly into the trash. I’m so glad that I tried again!

Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from “Gluten-Free Baking Classics” by Annalise G. Roberts)

7 TBSP milk, heated to 110 degrees F (I ended up using more than this…the dough wouldn’t hold together and resembled pie crust. I just added milk until it looked like I thought it should. Sorry, I’ll try to measure better next time!)
1 TBSP yeast
¼ tsp. sweet rice flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 TBSP canola oil
1 ¾ cup Brown Rice Flour blend (see recipe after this one)
1 ¼ tsp. xanthan gum
½ tsp. salt
Rice flour (about 2 TBSP to use to flour the board)
1 TBSP melted butter

Combine warm milk, yeast, 1 TBSP of the sweet rice flour, and 1 TBSP of the sugar in a measuring cup; stir until well blended. Cover with a towel and set aside for 5-10 minutes until mixture becomes foamy. Mix eggs and canola oil together in a small bowl and set aside. Lightly grease a round cake pan with cooking spray. Mix brown rice flour mix, xanthan gum, salt, and remaining 3 TBSP sweet rice flour and 3 TBSP sugar in large bowl of electric mixer. Add warm milk/yeast mixture, egg and oil to the bowl; mix until blended. Scrape bowl and beaters and then beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Liberally spread rice flour over surface of a wooden board and lightly flour hands. (I spread saran wrap over a cutting board, and then sprinkled with the rice flour). Dough will be sticky. Roll dough around in the rice flour until it is lightly covered. Gently press into a 12x8 inch rectangle with your hands. (I was actually able to roll it with a rolling pin after covering it with the rice flour). Lightly brush the melted butter over the rolled dough. The recipe also has a mixture to put in the inside, but I just covered the butter with cinnamon and sugar the way I’ve always baked. Carefully roll dough, do not roll dough tightly; the individual rolls will rise better if they are more loosely rolled. Using a small, sharp knife cut roll of dough into eight 1-inch slices. Carefully arrange slices I prepared cake pan so that they do not touch. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place until rolls have doubled or more in size and have filled the pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes.

Brown Rice Flour blend
2 parts brown rice flour (extra finely ground—available under the Authentic Foods label—the others aren’t ground finely enough to use without leaving a gritty feeling in the mouth)
2/3 part potato starch (NOT potato flour!)
1/3 part tapioca flour

**Today’s baking experiment was so successful that I’m going to fiddle with the dough some more and see if I can bake some bierocks with it tomorrow night. I’ve got the filling done, so I just will need to make the dough after church.

****UPDATE 2/28/10 I made the dough again today. I used about 14 TBSP of milk instead of the listed 7. I used the sugar to raise the yeast, but omitted the rest of it so that I could make savory Bierocks with the dough. Once the dough was mixed, I made small round balls with it, and rolled them in brown rice flour and then rolled them out. I filled them with a mixture of ground beef,onion, cabbage, salt, pepper and mustard. After baking them, I brushed them with melted butter. YUMMY. I've eaten way too many today! I'll have to put them in the freezer after I give a few more away! There are some things that I have missed so happy to be able to eat them again!

5) Another gluten free baking success! This last week I saw a recipe like this online, and decided to see whether I would like it. I do! Very yummy. I left them without icing to cut out some fat and calories, but they would taste good with cream cheese frosting, chocolate frosting, or peanut butter frosting I think! Maybe next time….

Gluten Free Banana Muffins/cupcakes
1 box gluten free yellow cake mix (betty crocker brand)
3 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup water
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla

I melted the butter in a saucepan on the stove, adding the water and vanilla. I also freeze my bananas, so I took the peels off of them and put them in the mixture to warm up and then mash. After taking it off the stove, I put the yellow cake mix in and beat in the eggs. When everything was moist I put it in the muffin tins. Bake at 350 for about 18 min. or so. It would also be great in loaf form, or as banana cake.

I’ve also got an appointment tomorrow afternoon. One of the students at school just recently got diagnosed with Celiac and her mother needs ideas of what to do and how to alter recipes. I’m hopeful that I can be a resource to these people. If nothing else, I can at least introduce them to some good books, products to try…and be a listening ear!

And now for a few pictures...these are a mixture of the last two Huber visits. Newsworthy items: Popcorn is a big hit with Gustav and Heidi. Tim, Gustav and I spent time making wine. Gustav went poop for the first time at my house, bribed with M&Ms and Curious George.