Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cheater, Cheater, Pizza Eater

There are three gluten-filled things that I really love: bread, pasta and pizza (in that order). Because they are now no-nos, I've really been focusing on finding suitable replacements. I think I'm on a pretty good path with the bread thing (psyllium for the win!) and I've made some good headway on the pasta front (Bionaturae Fusilli is awesome, Jovial egg noodles are good (though they have a weird aftertaste if you eat them plain) and Tinkyada pasta is the devil incarnate). Which leaves me pizza.

The other night I had a pizza recipe all picked out to make when I realized that I misread the recipe; the prep time was not slightly over an hour but rather more than two hours. Oops.

So I cheated and used a box mix pizza crust (Chebe brand, if you are interested. Chebe: the best me-safe cheater bread in the world!) and ta-da! Pizza!

Pizza

Honestly, it was pretty darn good. The Chebe calls for cheese in the mix so this ended up being a three cheese pizza (cheddar in the crust, mozzarella and parmesan as toppings). It's even good cold - a must for pizza as I do love it that way (though the herbs in the Chebe give it a little mustiness when eaten cold that isn't perfect).

So yay, awesome pizza! I'm pleased. But I still feel like a cheater. Sure, I made the pizza sauce from scratch but the crust came out of a box and I just can't let that slide. At some point I'm going to have to just block off two and a half hours to make "real" GF pizza crust. But first, I'm going to need to buy more mozzarella.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just In Time!

Just recently, I finished my third pair of fingerless mittens. My first two pairs each had issues: the thumb gusset on pair one was too small so that pair was rehomed and a bad yarn choice doomed pair two. But this pair? I think this pair is just right.

Hedgerow Mitts

Naturally, I finished them up right in time for the weather to get warm, so I figured I wouldn't be using them until next winter. Wrong! They were perfect last night during the eclipse.

This pair is made with a broken rib pattern (that was actually entertaining for me instead of mind-numbing, which is how I normally see ribbing) so it is very elastic - no too tight thumb gusset! I also used a much better yarn choice for this pair (a yarn with a good twist and not single ply!) so they should hold up worlds better.

Now here's hoping the weather will be too nice to wear them!

Not Color Adjusted

Last night was very cold. And yet Dan and I were outside for a good while last night, watching the eclipse. Of course the eclipse coincided with a major dip in the weather. It might have been 82° the day before, but last night was 42°. Cold. But pretty.

Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse

I can see why they call it the blood moon.

In slightly other news, while we were out there watching the eclipse, we also saw Mars (it was orange!), Jupiter, and Saturn. While Mars and Jupiter were visible even during the full moon, Saturn didn't show up until the moon was mostly covered. When we first went outside, the moon was so bright barely any stars could be seen - just the super-bright ones. But once the eclipse started, tons of stars (and a planet!) showed up.

Cold, but enjoyable!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beer!

It's a been a while with the move and everything, but this weekend Dan was finally able to cook up a batch of beer! His plan had originally been to make a wheat beer for me (my favorite of his beers) but the whole celiac thing makes that... yeah. So now, he's making me a wheat beer!

GF Beer TBNL

No really, he's making a gluten free wheat beer. It doesn't actually have any wheat in it, but it uses a (gluten free) yeast that is used in wheat beers which is really where a lot of the taste I love comes from.

This time he used a syrup (white sorghum) instead of making a all-grain mash like he has in the past. I like the idea of maybe one day he'll be able to make a GF beer with the full grains, but we need to get a better handle on what makes a GF beer good first. Though I will say, while I enjoy the nuances a homemade mash adds to the beer, I don't miss the house smelling like super sweet grains for days after a brew!

More Bread!

I've made another loaf of bread! And I've discovered: after three loaves of gluten-free bread, I have forgotten what normal bread tastes like. (Dan answer: "not much".) But I think that's why gluten-free people say things like "oh, this new gluten-free bread is awesome! It's just like regular bread." I think they've forgotten regular bread. Because GF bread is never like regular bread.

Not that my previous loaves have been bad, but they haven't been very comforting-squishy-bready. Hopefully this lately bread has put me on the road to change that.

ATK Bread

Look at those lovely air bubbles! It's like a legitimate glutened yeast bread! It looks light and squishy! And it is... kinda.

I used a recipe from America's Test Kitchen that included their gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Honestly, this blend makes the most sense to me since they replace non-nutritious white (wheat) flour with the less nutritious white rice flour. Everywhere else using brown rice which, to me, seems more appropriate if you want to replace whole wheat bread.

Of course, instead of using white rice flour, I accidentally used sweet white rice flour, which I didn't realize was a different until after baking when I was trying to figure out why my bread was a bit gummy. Oops. So yeah, it looks great and normal bread-y, but it's a bit sticky. However! Even a tad too wet, the bread is soft and springy, just like a good white bread. I think that's because their recipe uses psyllium instead of xanthan (or guar) gum to bind. I've read that psyllium husks give GF bread a much more "normal" feel and based on this (improperly made) loaf, I'd have to agree.

I have ordered some of the correct flour so I'll be able to give this a go again soon and hopefully that will take care of the slight gumminess. Stupid baking! It doesn't do well with substitutions (even accidental ones).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Back on Its Axis

The world has been righted. I have cast on for a pair of socks.

Finally

Seriously, I just got done knitting a tubular-shaped item with a sock-appropriate number of stitches that had to be made in a pair and yet I still felt itchy not having any socks in progress. I suppose there is just something about knitting something with a toe and impending heel-turn.

And now that I have some socks going, the world is how it should be. (Well, except for that whole celiac thing. Still getting used to that. But apparently socks trump celiac. Which shows the awesome power of socks!) This might be a strong indicator of a sock-knitting addiction. Which is good since I'm pretty sure I also have a sock yarn addiction.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Four: A New Theme

I suppose one good thing about being diagnosed with celiac is that I have more books that are of interest to me now.

The first: Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H.R. Green, M.D. and Rory Jones Thrilling title, huh? But it was educational and not normally depressing (despite the earlier snippet from it I shared about my increased rates of, you know, a horrible death.)

I did discover while reading this that I cannot read celiac-realted things before bed. It gives me weird and stressful medical- and disease-related dreams. Not restful.

I've also learned that I'm probably going to be pretty dang low-risk when it comes to what foods I eat and the potential cross-contamination. Honestly, before I was diagnosed (but after I knew I had the gene), I figured I'd be a little more of a risk taker when it came to choosing food. I should have known better given how paranoid I always was when it came to safely feeding my mother.

But yeah, all the pain in my hands and feet I've been dealing with plus a three-day-long reaction-from-hell after eating some brown rice pasta that, best we can figure, was likely contaminated (before it got to me) and I'm definitely on the strictly-gluten-free-is-good bandwagon. (Because three days of feeling like my finger has a serrated knife sawing into the bone with every movement? Not fun. On the positive side, three days seems to be the limit of the pain - I ate that pasta twice and both times hurt like the dickens for three days then things started going back to normal. Which also explains why my hands stopped hurting during the week and a half of my cold - for about a week of that, I lived off of homemade (gluten-free) chicken soup. Felt better, added my normal wheat-based cereal in again and, bam, pain!)

And this post has nothing to do with the book other than I read it. So yeah. I read it. Have celiac? Read this book. It's much preferred over the group-hug-let's-sing-kumbaya-in-gluten-free-solidarity or jump-on-the-gluten-free-fad-diet books that seem to overwhelm and Amazon "celiac" search.

Next up, more celiac-themed reading: Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano and Susie Flaherty. I'm really looking forward to this one. My mom speaks highly of Dr. Fassano and he's a pretty big name in celiac so that's cool. But I'm mostly excited by the fact that this book was just published (Amazon shows the publication date as the 29th, but I got my pre-order today) compared to Dr. Green's book which was revised and updated back in 2010. Yay current information!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mitts Mitts Mitts

I'm currently dying to knit some socks. It's like a compulsion. But I only have one pair of 5" cables for my little interchangeable sock needles. And they are currently being used by my fingerless mitts. Of which I only have the thumbs to do. But my fingers have been hurting so much I can barely do anything with them, including knit. So my mitts are just sitting there. Occupying my 5" cables.

Of course, even if my cables were free, I'm still in a bit too much pain to knit. And I have two more cables ordered, being shipped to me as I type this. But yeah, I wanna knit socks.

On the plus side, I think my fingerless mitts are totally awesome.

Fingerless Mitts

Kind of hard to get a good picture of though. But awesome. And my hands are starting to feel better so knitting can happen soon (I hope)!

Monday, April 7, 2014

More Awesomeness

Cocoa likes my hot water bottle, too.

Hot Water Bottle Cocoa

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Much Better!

I had a second go at gluten free bread on Friday. It went very well!

Bread Take Two

I actually had the correct flours so I got pretty close in actually following the recipe! I did still had to make adjustments as there is no instant yeast I can have (only active dry yeast) and I don't yet have a corn-free xanthan gum.

Speaking of xanthan gum, I've been substituting guar gum because that's the easiest to buy at the store, but turns out I was doing it wrong. In cookies and flatbreads you can substitute guar gum for xanthan on a 1:1 ratio. But in yeast breads, you apparently need to use 1.5 times the guar gum compared to xanthan. Good to know! I have ordered a corn-free xanthan gum, though, since it's supposed to help with bread fluffiness. We shall see.

I do hope to try more binder substitutes. Psyllium fiber is number one on my list since it is supposed to help make GF bread texture more similar to glutened bread, but I also want to try chia and flax seeds. I have a whole world of bread making yet to learn!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Oh Goodie

Patients with celiac disease have an increased mortality rate that exceeds that of the general population....The overall risk for malignancy for specific cancers in people with celiac disease has been reported at anywhere from nine to thirty-four times greater than that of the general population.

Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H.R. Green, M.D. & Rory Jones

On the plus side, those with celiac disease have a lower instance of breast cancer. Yay?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Opening Day

Guess what I did today!

The Pool is Open!

I went swimming! Whee! Our pool is chilly but swimmable and it's awesome! I couldn't stop smiling! I'm so excited! I have a pool! That doesn't require inflating! Yay!

Today was overcast and not super warm (mid-70s) but Dan and I were outside doing some yard work and it just seemed so tempting. So I put my feet in. It was fine. I went to the second step. Then the third. Then I ran inside to go put my swimsuit on and proceeded to officially swim in the pool!

Later, after I had called both pooling and yard work quits (because while the pool was swimmable, eventually it caused chill bumps), I went inside to get dinner ready but Dan decided he needed a beer. In the pool!

The Pool is Open!

I think it is supposed to rain tomorrow so it probably won't be good pooling weather but I'm so excited that our pool is officially a useable pool. YAY!!!

Spring!

Well, the pool still isn't quite warm enough to swim in, but other signs of impending happy season are here: wildflowers!

Texas Storksbill
Wild Onion Bloom
Parralena
Dakota Vervain

All those (and more) are hanging out in our backyard. I can't wait to see what shows up as things warm up!

And speaking of things popping up in the yard, anyone have an idea of what this little guy is?

What Am I?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Things

Things on the Celiac front are doing good. At first I was swinging from feeling motivated and energetic to being paranoid about eating anything ever again. I'm still not to the point that I think I'll trust many people or places to prepare food for me but I feel pretty good about being able to at least feed myself.

Since diagnosis, I've had decent-ish pasta, good cheese bread and pretty good homemade bread. All gluten free. So yay! I also bought a consolation bread maker and lots of gluten-free baking-related goodies.

Bread Machine

The bread machine was delivered today (who delivers on Sunday? I have no idea but it showed up!) and I've already made my first loaf of bread.

First Bread

It wasn't exactly to the recipe (I somehow managed to not have brown rice flour even with all my flour purchasing, so I used teff, which gave it a different taste) and didn't rise quite as much as it should have, but it is definitely edible. It tastes a bit like cornbread drizzled with molasses. Not bad at all!

Hopefully next week I'll be making appointments with a gastroenterologist and rheumatologist (since my blood tests showed an indicator for rheumatoid arthritis, though hopefully that will go away once the gluten-free diet really kicks in) so I can get on with the whole endoscopy and super-official diagnoses.

And lots more bread making and experimenting - I imagine I'll be doing that next week, too. We've already eaten almost half of the loaf I baked today!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

There Was Profanity

I've been having issues with arthritis in my hands and feet lately so a couple of weeks ago, I went to the doctor and had lots of blood tests. Today, I went back for the results.

Celiac disease.

Sigh.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pair of Eights

I'm slowly coming back to life so I thought I would celebrate by showing off my newest socks. Ta-da!

Socks

(Yes, I am wearing sweat pants. I said I'm coming back to life, not that I actually feel alive. We will know I'm well on the road to recovery when I feel like putting on jeans.)

I'm pleased with these socks. I had a lot of yarn leftover by the time I hit my normal sock length so I made these a fair bit longer. I've received some "don't do it, it's more trouble than it is worth" advice in regards to knitting tall socks, and in the past I've listened. But this time I ignored it and I'm glad I did. These aren't quite full-on knee highs but they are maybe an inch from that designation and they fit great (and seem to stay up very well).

More happiness: these were made with some yarn that had been in my stash for almost two years! It's actually some of the first specifically-sock yarn I got. So I'm really excited that I was able to use it. I know I sort of collect sock yarn, but it's nice when some of the collection morphs into socks.

Another fun thing with these socks is that I've made it so that there is a right and a left sock - the toes are shaped to my feet!

Anatomical Toes

That angle on the sock toe isn't just from my toes having been in them - it's the shape of the sock! How fun is that?

It's really easy to do - increase on both sides (since the big toe does have a bit of a slant) for a few rounds then switch to increasing on only one side (more details here)- but I'm not sure if this will be my new go-to sock toe. I mean, it's super comfy cause it matches my foot shape exactly but it's not like I find other toes uncomfortable. My toes are pointy enough that I can't really do a rounded toe - I end up with a little loose bit of sock flapping over my shortest toes - but the normal increase-every-other-round pointy toe is a pretty darn good fit for me. Well, aside from the part where the longest bit is dead center. My feet aren't shaped quite like that. But still, those are a good fit. But these are a perfect fit.

Socks

I don't know. Maybe I'll stick with the normal toe. Or maybe I'm saying that because change is hard, even if it is just when knitting socks. Maybe I'll just suck it up and make this anatomical toe my new go to toe. I think it'll depend on how this sock wears over the course of a full day and how it feels in a shoe.

So there is my eighth pair of socks for this year! Well, okay, two pair were actually slippers but those count in my Ravelry sock group so I'm counting them in my overall count. I feel pretty sure I'll be able to make my goal of one dozen socks this year! I can't wait!

Next up, though: not socks. Not because I'm not itching to make more (I am) but I need some fingerless mittens so I'm going to make a pair of those. After that: socks.

Not Socks

Hey look! I knit something not for feet!

Water Bottle Cover

Okay, so technically I got the hot water bottle for my hands - which are like feet but for your arms instead of your legs - but it still means that the project bucked my current trend of feet-related knitting.

I don't know why, but I think it is kind of ridiculous. In an awesome way. In a way that makes me giggle like a schoolgirl. Perhaps it is because of my relatively unfamiliarity with hot water bottles (and thus with their covers) that tickles me so. It's just ridiculous.

Of course, I have recently finished a pair of socks, but they are drying. Plus, being sick and hacking up lungular bits on a regular basis has put a crimp in my normal photographing of my finished product. (The hot water bottle was done with my iPhone. That's how lazy I was about it.) But today I actually had noticeable improvement in my cold from hell so I'm hoping the new socks can be revealed soon. I did something kind of different for them. It's neat.

But for now, gaze upon the wonder that is my hot water bottle holder!

Or, if you prefer, gaze upon the prettiness that is our officiallly-ready-to-swim pool!

Pool Time!

Yep, we still have punch list items to go (the rock guys were here this morning and today won't be their last visit) but we have balanced water, running fountains, a pool cleaner, and a fence so the pool is all ready to be used!

Well, okay, not quite ready...

Okay, Not Pool Time

See that top temperature? That's the pool water temp. Yeah, just a little chilly for swimming. It's no longer icy when I put my feet in but definitely qualifies as bracing. So really all we need now is some good weather to warm things up. Deck chairs are being delivered on Tuesday so Mother Nature better hop to it!

(Please, Mother Nature, if you read this blog do not take that as a challenge to snow. Thank you.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Every Time

It seems that every freaking time the weather warms up then drops to super-cold again, I get a cold. I am now on cold number three for the year and it feels like someone took a cheese grater to my throat this time. Of course, getting caught in the rain on Saturday probably didn't help.

Yesterday was nice though so I was able to self-medicate in the sun a bit. I was smarter this time and didn't get burned (though I did manage more tan lines). Sadly, the pool water is 60° so much too cold to get in. But we have Pool School tomorrow morning to learn about chemicals and how to use all the fancy buttons, so as soon as the water warms up, we will be good to go. How exciting!

Construction-wise, we still have a bunch of punch list items but that's been put on hold until we are able to get the fence closed up (so we don't get footprints from the neighbor's dog in the mastic). All that should be soon though!

Next step: we really need to get some green things around the pool. First step, grass. Next step, the world! (Okay, maybe not. But hopefully some palm trees.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014