If you are going gluten free for the fun of it or because you are intolerant/allergic you will (if you have not already) get “the look.” The “look” that says…”Oh, so you are going to be a vegetarian….weirdo.” In reality (and once you get past your period of mourning…see my last post), you are getting to experience a whole new world of foods! You can try foods from other countries that you probably would have never even wondered about. You will get to learn to bake with weird things like “guar gum” (whatever THAT is) and quinoa flour and after a while it will be your normal and that’s ok!
Another hard thing to explain to people is that you don’t HAVE to eat gluten, eggs, dairy, soy or corn. Is it easier in the USA to eat those things? Oh yeah! Is it impossible to live without them? No, just a little more effort. If you have ever had your stomach hate you because you ate a grilled cheese sandwich or because you drank a glass of milk, then you can make this work!
When I first started trying to make sense of what in the world “quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”)” or sorghum flour even were and where in the world you would get such things, I looked through many blogs and kept reading about “Trader Joes” and other such places. Well, where I live we are doing good that have a Piggly Wiggly in town and a Kroger or Walmart within 50 miles. Now those places are starting to carry gluten free things, but they are usually prepackaged things and they usually have something else I am not supposed to eat. Did you know “xanthan gum” is made from corn?! Ok, so no prepackaged stuff. Right. That’s ok because we try to make a point of not buy prepackaged anyway, but I was getting terribly frustrated by the many blogs that kept telling me to go to “Trader Joes”. I finally looked all over (no really, all over) the internet and found that Amazon of all places has the best prices on sorghum, tapioca, etc. flours because you can also get free shipping!
At first the sticker shock was killing me but after talking to my lovely husband we decided to try buying it through Amazon and then go from there. I won’t lie, the price of the stuff will make you cringe BUT you only use a little of each in a recipe so it does last longer than wheat flour. The price also makes you work harder to make dinners that don’t require any “bread type” item.
We did make another splurge and bought a grain mill. I was able to find one on buy.com for not too much. It’s not really a splurge, it’s an investment but on one teacher’s salary it bugged me. (To make a confession though, I hate spending money in general. My husband is the one to remind me that we do have to eat and use electricity sometimes. 🙂 If you are able to get a grain mill you can buy brown rice, white rice, sweet rice (also called sticky rice), and other such things and make your own flour for much cheaper than you can buy it. Make sure you look around since prices change and sometimes the flour will be cheaper.
I am a HUGE fan of Good Will. Most of our “new clothes” come from there and several of our appliances. To all of you who donate to them, thank you for giving away such great stuff….most of the time! 😉 Now why am I telling you this? Go there and find a coffee grinder if you don’t have one! I was able to get one for $4 and it has been a life saver for grinding up flax seed, chai seed and quinoa to use in recipes. They are all so small that using a grain mill means that they would get lost. I am sure a food processor would probably work, but that is still on my list of “things to someday get.” It will save you time and as long as you plug it in and test it at Good Will (they always have outlets around) just wash it well and use away! Oh, and you can use it to grind coffee too.
“Everything calls for xanthan gum!” I remember saying that after trying to find a bread recipe and a pizza dough recipe. Xanthan gum is made of corn so I cannot use it. I have been able to substitute xanthan gum for ground flax seed and ground chai seed in pancake and muffin recipes, but so far bread and I are not on speaking terms. I am blaming it on the lack of real xanthan gum, but if any of you have suggestions then I am willing to try it! Guar gum is supposed to be a replacement for xanthan gum, but I only just found some at a vitamin store near here and have not gotten any yet.
I will leave you with a GREAT pie crust recipe that I am pretty sure I got off of glutenfreegirl.
AMAZING Pie Crust
350 grams all-purpose flour (recipe below)
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of margarine (or the equivalent of whatever you use)
1/2 C ice cold water
Get your water cold and have ready to work with. Make sure EVERYTHING you are working with is at least cool if not cold. If you have ever made pie crust, just make it the same way you normally would. Add the salt to the flour. Cut the butter into the flour mix until crumbly. Add the cold water a few tablespoons at a time until all of the dry ingredients are wet, but you don’t want it to be sticky.
Once you have it done and are ready to press into a pan you will need to put water on you hands to spread it out. GF dough does not like to be “lightly floured”. This recipe makes enough for a double crusted pie.
To bake your pie you will need to pre-heat the oven to 425* and bake the pie of 15 min. Lower the temperature to 375* and let it bake for 55 minutes. It will need to sit for 2 hours if you are doing a fruit pie. If you use it for a pot pie, cut it as soon as you would like!
Enjoy your awesome pie!