Archive for the ‘Food Frontiers’ Category

To Bake OR Not to Bake- A Math Lesson

Almost every child LOVES COOKIES.  We all know this… entire marketing campaigns are based on this fact in the fall of the year when the kiddies go back to school, the weather starts cooling and folks start thinking about football, homecoming games, treat-laden parties and the major baking holidays.

Homeschooling moms have a big advantage over their public school teaching counterparts in the area of math to keep their students engaged in lesson material and at the same time give their youngsters a fun break from the day-to-day on-paper math assignments.  The homeschooling mother (or father, or grandparent… whatever the case may be) has: #1. a pantry containing food ingredients #2. cooking equipment and facilities ever present when at home (cooking in the car is probably NOT a good option unless your home is also your mode of transportation) #3 a handy supply of cookbooks, recipe card or perhaps recipes memorized from years of experience. #4 As a parent, IF your children have any food issues such as allergies, you KNOW what they are and unless the result of your math lesson is going to end up as snack for the next scout meeting or church potluck, you don’t have to worry about anybody else’s allergies except your family’s.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love the process of making cookies almost as much as they love eating them.  That said, our family does have a few food limitations among our children: corn/corn syrup, gluten, milk protein, soybeans, bananas, strawberries and avocados.  With that in mind, we do quite a bit of our own baking anyway.  Baking is a great way to make math fun, particularly when trying to teach fractions.

Today’s math skill (new) was adding fractions and to this end, we used 1/3 and 1/2 measuring cups and a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon (okay, I couldn’t find any of the others anyway… but we made it work for us!) to measure ingredients.  We also ended up writing our own recipe for these cookies as we went along and the oldest wrote it down on recipe cards. Life Skills Lesson: Bake a healthy, low-sugar and yummy  “go-to” cookie that even my future 20-something possibly bachelor sons could make on their own without too much difficulty for their lunchboxes and such when they are grown and on their own. (Clever Mama!)  Bonus Lessons: Creative Writing and Penmanship practice … check!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanut Cookies

1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 cups Creamy Peanut Butter

1/2+ 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 cups brown sugar (or 50/50 blend of brown sugar/splenda or brown sugar/stevia)

1/4 + 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs (or 3 medium… that’s what I happened to have)

1/3 cup cocoa powder (baking, not hot chocolate mix)

1/4 + 1/4+ 1/4+ 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 + 1/3 cup of room temp. leftover coffee (adjust as needed depending on the moisture of your flour)

1/2+ 1/2+ 1/2 cups whole millet flour

1/2+ 1/2+ 1/2+1/2+ 1/2+ 1/2 cups Gluten-Free all purpose flour (use your favorite blend) Adjust flour as needed if your cookie dough seems too wet from the coffee

1/3 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips (okay, this was all I had left of the bag)

1/3+ 1/3 + 1/3 cups chopped peanuts

1/2 cup Sugar in a small bowl (add more if needed

1. Cream together in a large mixing bowl, the peanut butter and brown sugar.

2. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and stir in thoroughly.

3.  Stir in the coffee (it will look very loose almost like pancake batter at this point.)

4. In another mixing bowl mix the flours, cocoa powder and baking powder.

5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients 1/3 or so at a time. Mixing well between additions.

6. Stir in the chocolate chips and peanuts.

7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or foil and chill for at least 2 hours.

8.  After the dough is chilled, Preheat the oven to 350 F.

9. Remove the dough from your fridge and scoop out walnut-sized balls of dough.  Roll the dough in sugar (as you would regular peanut butter cookies) and place on your baking sheet.

10.  Using a fork, lightly squish the cookie dough balls in a criss-cross fashion (again like regular peanut butter cookies).

11.  Place your cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes (use your judgement here, if you like soft cookies take them out when they look well set, if you like a crunchier cookie leave them a couple minutes longer, but plan to keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.

12.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack or plate.

13.  Let the kiddies enjoy the results of their math lesson, but don’t forget to save some for dad’s lunch too!

For holidays you can use colored sugar or roll them in sprinkles to dress them up a bit.

For Extra Credit, check with  your 4-H and Scout leaders to see if this math project can count toward a 4-h project (perhaps and Educational Display in Baking/cooking as part of a cookbook you child writes out him/herself) or for a cooking belt loop in Cub-Scouts/Badge in Girl Scouts.

(*  I apologize for lack of photos at the present time, my camera bit the dust after the 4-H photography clinic we had in late July and we haven’t had the funds to replace it just yet.  I will bake these cookies again another day after we DO replace the camera, edit and re-post this again in an updated version with photos.)

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Journey Into History with The Modern Pioneer Family

Sometime in April or May (date is still T.B.D.) our family will be traveling to my hometown in Missouri to attend my younger brother’s wedding.

Why you say is this of significance to this blog (I mean other than it is the wedding of a family member and thus an important family even to welcome a new sister-by-marriage and a new auntie to our family)?  Well, let us consider then that my “hometown” in my youth was Independence, Missouri and that I was born in Oregon City, Oregon.

Independence, Missouri holds an important place in the history of the United States of America.  It was the hometown of our President, Harry S. Truman and it is also the city from which most of our Nation’s expansion toward the Pacific Coast began.  Independence, Missouri is starting place of the 4 major traveling routes into the West:  The Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail (not listed in historical order on purpose.)

We have noticed some huge holes in our children’s study of American History at their local school.  Thus my husband and I have decided to put together for a history lesson project a unit study of  The Oregon Trail  for our family, in order to turn what would ordinarily be a mini-vacation to just attend a family event into an educational field trip for the children.  This is part of our efforts to “after-school” the children to augment what is turning out to be a lack-luster public school education.  To this end I visited out local lending library and checked out some books on this topic and am now working on preparing a lesson plan to outline our study of this subject.

 

Here is a list of just some of the resources we’ve found relating directly to the Oregon Trail and to the Pioneer Period of U.S. History in general:

1. Pathways of America ” The Oregon Trail” by Lynda Hatch

2. How I Survived the Oregon Trail (The Journal of Jesse Adams) by Laura Wilson

3. The Oregon Trail- Let Freedom Ring

4. If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie by Anne Kamma

5.  The American Frontier by Melanine Ann Apel

6. Black Frontiers (A History of African American Heroes In the Old West) by Lillian Schlissel

7. Cornerstones of Freedom “The Oregon Trail” by R. Conrad Stein

8. Homesteading on the Plains (Daily Life in the Land of Laura Ingalls Wilder)

9. Pioneering Women of the Wild West by Jeff Savage

10. Discovering Geography of North America with Books Kids Love by Carol J. Fuhler

11.  Pioneers (An Activity Book) by John Artman

12. Cowboys (An Activity Book) by John Artman

13. Indians (An Activity Book) by John Artman

While studying the history topic of the Oregon Trail; we will also involve Reading & Literature, Spelling, Arithmetic, Geography, Science and Music and then conclude our unit with a memorable field trip to historical sites in Independence, MO and nearby towns for some hands-on-learning.

It’s Been a Long Time (Since Last Year’s Garden)

Wow, it has been far too long since I’ve made a new posting.  All of the computers in the house were broken for several months and our library (20 miles away) has a 30 minutes time limit per patron/per visit for internet usage. Unfortunately our twice a month trip to the library was barely enough computer-time to delete all the junk email from my inbox.

So, I deeply apologize for being completely out of touch for approx. 2 months or so there.

We’ve had a rather mild winter here in South Dakota once again. And I am wondering if we will have another drought summer with lots of grass- hoppers as we did last summer.  (However, our tomatoes and peppers really seemed to enjoy the hot summer weather last year.)  I say lots of grasshoppers, but of course it was NOTHING like the nearly Biblical Plague of Grasshoppers that Laura Ingalls Wilder describes in her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek… I can certainly be thankful for that.

We’ve started a few vegetable plants indoors already in our windowsills. Lettuce, Herbs and a few cherry-type tomatoes, all of which make good container garden plants. Toward the end of this month we will be getting the indoor mini greenhouse out of storage and setting up our grow lights and really getting busy starting our heirloom vegetable and flower transplants so they will be ready to set out in the garden this spring.

Varieties We plan to Grow in 2013: (Not a complete list, but a nice start of one.)

Beans: Gold Marie Vining (wax type pole bean), Royal Purple Pole, and Chinese Long Bean

Broccoli: Purple Sprouting and Romanesco

Carrots: Amarillo (yellow), Atomic Red (red), Cosmic Purple (purple), Snow White (white), plus an heirloom orange carrot

Cabbage: Red Express

Cauliflower: Cheddar, and both a green and a purple variety.

Celery: Red Re-Selection

Cucumbers: Dragon’s Egg, Boston Pickling, Uzebeski

Eggplant: Ping tung (very sweet elongated variety)

Popcorn: (the only corn we will grow this year) Dakota Black

Peppers: Lipstick, Chocolate Bell, Orange Bell, Yellow Bell, Red Bell, Green Bell, Mini Bell, Anaheim, Santa Fe, and Sweet Banana.

Pumpkins: Red Warty Thing, Cinderella, the pumpkin that looks like it’s covered in peanuts and a blue pie pumpkin that my grandmother always grew in Oregon.

Tomatoes: Black Prince (which we loved last year),  Black Icicle, Orange Icicle, Green Zebra, Chocolate Cherry, Yellow Pear (which come up wild here every summer), Pink Caspian and Nature’s Riddle to name a few.

*Traditional garden center hybrids like Better Boy and Early Girl have never really done well for us here on this farm, but many of the heirlooms we’ve tried have done very nicely on our farm here.  One notable exception to that was the “Mr. Stripey” plant I bought last year at the local big box store… it was the weirdest tomato plant I have every grown… huge plant with weird fuzzy leaves, lots of blossoms… but it never produced a single tomato fruit  despite plenty of bees and other pollinators(I am sure that other people do fabulously with this variety… it just never did anything for us, making me wonder if it’s not adapted to the Southern US or something?)

We’ll probably grown a dozen or two others, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head.

The Adaptable Pumpkin Pie

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

   The daily management of meals is complicated for families with multiple food allergens.  When the holidays arrive, the stresses of meal management multiply to seemingly a thousand-fold.  This year our holiday meal issues will include managing for the following foods issues: 2 people who are allergic to milk and bananas, 1 person who can’t eat foods with gluten, 1 person who’s allergic to soybeans and avocados, 1 person allergic to strawberries and 1 person who’s diabetic.  This traditional pair of Thanksgiving recipes is written toward persons with these food allergens and with substitution suggestions for the diabetic too.

A Little Schoolhouse On the Prairie Moment (aka An After-schooling Lesson):  Allow your children to help you with your holiday baking.  The youngest toddlers will have fun with a bowl and wooden spoon, older toddlers and preschoolers can help w/ cookie cutter decorations and stirring.  Older kids get an arithmetic lesson in measurements and fractions when they help measure and stir the ingredients together and can practice understanding temperature by setting the oven to preheat at the correct temperature.  Ask your teenagers/preteens to convert temps F to C and measurements to metric system for fun or research for the family the origins of various holiday foods to share this information with the family during the meal.

Traditional Pastry Crust

(A Gluten-Free/Soy-Free/Dairy-Free

adaptation of my grandmother’s pastry crust)

*This recipe makes a 2 crust pie or 2 one crust pie plus extra to be used for decoration

1 cup Spectrum Palm Shortening (or lard… grandma always used Crisco, plain or butter-flavored)

     *if using lard, chill it in the freezer for an hour or two prior to use.

 3 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour blend w/ xanthan gum already in it (I like Jules Gluten-Free Flour or Namaste Perfect Blend flour) or more as needed

    *amount of flour needed will vary due to natural moisture in the flour blend and the type of “shortening” used, lard is softer and will need more flour to make a good crust, however, it’ll also make a little bit larger batch.

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cider or rice wine vinegar

Ice water

   Place  flour, salt and shortening in a large mixing bowl.  Cut the flour mixture into the shortening with a fork or pastry blender if doing it by hand.  I prefer a more mechanical method for the sake of speed.  I place these ingredients in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and cut the shortening into the flour using the whisk attachment.

Add the vinegar and mix well (many of the gluten-free recipes I have come across in the last 2 years for baking have contained a small amount of vinegar with the explanation that it helped somehow activate the xanthan gum that is used as a binder to replace gluten???  Not sure if that’s right or not, as what I know about xanthan gum is that it activates in most liquids, but I liked that the tiny amount of vinegar gave the crust some pleasing  flavor, as it was otherwise a little blah to me after using butter flavored Crisco for many years.)  Add the ice water very slowly by the teaspoonful, mixing well between additions.  You will find this recipe needs less liquid than your typical wheat-flour based pie crust, especially if you use lard in place of shortening.

Once mixed, divide dough into 2 portions.  Form into 2 discs and wrap in parchment or wax paper and chill dough for several hours in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge.  Line the surface on which you are rolling out your dough with parchment or waxed paper.  Sprinkle the paper with tapioca flour or cornstarch.  Place your disc of dough in the center of the paper and sprinkle this with tapioca or cornstarch too.  Place another piece of parchment or waxed paper on top.  Using your rolling pin, roll out dough into a thin sheet.  Remove the top layer of paper and gently lay your pie plate on top of the dough upside-down.  Carefully and gently flip the plate and dough over together.  Press the dough down into the pie plate gently then cut away excess dough with a knife.  Crimp or flute the edge of the pie using your favorite method.  Shapes may be cut out of excess dough using cookie cutters to place on the pie after it is filled with it’s filling.  Try leaves, pumpkins, acorns etc for Thanksgiving or stars, mittens, trees, reindeer etc. for Christmas.

*For a 2 crust pie, repeat the dough rolling instructions for the 2nd crust after filling the pie with it’s filling, then crimp or flute and decorate.

** For a pie shell that is to be filled with a chilled filling, place the  crust in the pie plate, prick crust w/fork to prevent air bubbles, then cover with foil and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake at 350 F for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven).  Cool and fill with chilled filling or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for later use.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free/Soy-Free

with low-sugar suggestions

Pie Filling:

1 (15 oz) can solid pack/pure pumpkin puree (or if you prefer, roast a pie or heirloom pumpkin in your oven, scoop out flesh and use this in place of canned pumpkin– directions to follow at the end of the post.)

1 cup sugar (or 1 cup Splenda/Sugar blend or 1 cup Stevia in the Raw, if using sugar substitutes, plan to keep this pie chilled in the fridge to prevent it from molding if making it ahead or if you have leftovers)

1 can (15 oz) coconut milk (unsweetened)

3 eggs

2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (to taste)

1 tsp.ground  allspice

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg or mace

In a large mixing bowl, mix sugar (or substitute) and eggs with a whisk until well blended.  Add pumpkin puree and whisk until well blended. Pour in coconut milk and once again mix in very well with a whisk.  Stir in spices until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into your prepared pie crust.  Decorate top of your pie as desired, sprinkling top of decorative crust pieces with a little granulated sugar or colored sugar sprinkles for sparkle.  Bake at 350 F for approx. one hour (or maybe a little longer… you want to bake until the filling appears to have set up since this is a “custard” type pie) depending on your oven.  This crust does not brown quite as much as a wheat flour based crust, so personally, I’ve been able to skip the step of covering the edge of my crust with foil and baking at 2 different temperatures.

To Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:

    Choose pie pumpkins or small to medium sized heirloom pumpkins (the green Jaradale and the light orange and dark red-orange “Cinderella” pumpkins are among my favorites for this).  Depending on your timing, you can cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a baking pan with a little water in it and bake for 30-60 minutes (depends on size of pumpkins) or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

OR

knock the stem off your pumpkin(s), wrap the whole pumpkin(s) fully in foil and heat your oven to 200 F, place wrapped pumpkin(s) on a cookie sheet(s) and place in the oven before going to bed, allow pumpkin(s) to slowly roast ovennight. Check to see they are tender first thing in the morning and remove from the oven to cool.  When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the seeds.

For both continue as follows…

Scoop out flesh with a large metal spoon and place into a large bowl or the bowl of your food processor (this may need to be done in several batches).  Mash puree by hand with a fork or potato masher or puree in a food processor.  Set aside the amount needed for your pie or other recipe.  Portion the rest out into 1 qt. freezer bags and freeze for later use.

This roasting, mashing and freezing process also works with other types of winter squash and is an excellent way to preserve the squash crop from your garden.  (Summer squashes can be grated raw and frozen for later use as well.)

The Littlest Pioneer Girl’s 1st Words

New Frontiers In Speech

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Today, our Littlest Pioneer Girl, Anna Elizabeth, uttered her first spoken words.  She is exactly 7 months old today, at exactly 6 months she got her first tooth (followed closely by the 2nd tooth less than a week after the first.)  The Littlest Pioneer Girl, seems to like being right on the mark with major milestones and making it easy on Modern Ma to remember the dates (‘cuz who has time for scrapbooking just now???  With a garden to plant, animals to care for, house to clean and 3 children and a husband to feed, Ma sure doesn’t!)

Anna’s first word was “Mama” plain as day this afternoon and often repeated and well practiced, especially whenever “Mama” left her sight.  Pioneer Pa was a teeny bit miffed, the boys 1st words were always “Dada” and he expected his daughter to follow suit.  Her second word, so close on the heels of the first, was a very good attempt at “love” and a budding effort at her third word a slightly shreiky “I”.  Then after Mama repeated them in correct gramatical order, Anna kept trying to repeat “I love Mama.”

I, Ma was of course thrilled, Henry was about 9 month before he tried “Mama” (I remember him saying “Dada”, “Dog” and Meow (at the time we had a cat and meow=cat) well before he said mama.)

Charles first word was “dada” as well, followed by “wawa” = water/swimming, dog, duck, peep-peep (chicks), fish and egg by a year old.  Then Charles began losing language rapidly between 18 and 24 months.  Charles had to be re-taught all over again to speak at about 4 years old and did not finally say “mommy” until he was 4 1/2 years old (a huge milestone.) Prior to 4 1/2 Charles always used and understood, but silent “hey you” to address me.

So having my only daughter’s first word be “Mama” is a huge reward for all those years I waited to hear her oldest brother say it.

Pureed Beets

(A Gluten Free & Casein Free Baby Food Recipe)

Indredients:

4 medium sized beets, washed and stems removed

Water (enough to barely cover beets in saucepan)

Equipment needed:

cutting board, disposable gloves (beets stain EVERYTHING), paring knife, chef’s knife, small to medium sized saucepan, Baby Bullet or other powerful blender, ice cube trays made of silicone (regular  ice cube trays will work but cubes may have to be slightly thawed to release them from the trays and I’ve had a few of the cheapo trays crack on me), 1 qt. zip-top freezer bags.

Instructions:

PUT ON GLOVES!  Wash beets and remove tops. Peel beets with paring knife (if you have chickens, other poultry or a hog, reserve peelings and tops for a treat for your livestock).  Using cutting board and chef’s knife, dice beets into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller (smaller pieces cook faster).  Place diced beets in pan, use just enough water to barely cover them.  Put pan on burner and bring to boil.  Cover with a lid, reduce heat to a simmer and allow beets to steam until very tender to a fork test.  Turn off heat and allow temp to drop until they can be handled comfortably, but are still warm.  Place 1/2 of the beets in the bowl of your blender or Baby Bullet, along with approx. half the water.  Secure lid and puree as per the appliance manufacturer’s instructions until of baby food consistancy, add a little cool water if neccessary to thin.  Pour into trays and place in freezer.  Repeat with other  1/2 of beets and cooking water.

To thaw for use:  Remove 1 or 2 cubes from freezer place in a small covered dish such as a recylced baby food jar or yogurt cup.  If to be eaten at next meal, allow to thaw at room temp for an hour or two.  If to be eaten in the next 2 days, thaw in the fridge.

Number of servings will depend on size of beets used and age of your baby.

Pureed Beets are also an awesome addition to vanilla or chocolate cakes, lending their rosy color, vitamins/minerals and a bit of fiber to your family’s diet (an idea I borrowed from one of my favorite cookbooks, Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, long before our family went gluten and dairy free.  Do check out a copy of her book from your local library or bookstore for more ideas on adding veggies and fruits to you kids’ diets, even if your family has special diet needs, many of the recipes can be adapted to your needs.  We draw inspiration from this book pretty often.)  Pureed beets in a vanilla or yellow GF cake mix and a little organic Chocolate Extract and frosted with coconut yogurt frosting makes AWESOME Red Velvet Cakes/cupckes. Red Velvet is Charles, favorite cake flavor, so we will be posting this before the end of the school term when his class celebrates the summer birthdays.  Stay on the look out for a from scratch GF/CF version of that.

Beets are one of Anna’s all-time favorite foods!

Mystery Recipe Monday- March 26, 2012

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Mstery Recipe Monday

Millet Dogs

I know Millet Dogs sounds very odd, but before you run away in fright, please allow me to explain.  One of Farmer Boy Charles’ favorite foods is that “Fair Food”  favorite the crunchy and delicious on-a-stick treat, the Corn Dog.  But lately we’ve noticed some less than desirous behaviors when Charles eats foods made from corn.  We are not sure if this is from the “gluten” in corn (aka corn protein… it really isn’t the same type of gluten as you find in wheat barley or rye.)  Or from the starches/sugars in the corn making the  overgrown yeast population in his gut “a little too happy”.  (Yeast eat startches and sugars, turning them into carbon dioxide, the lovely bubbles that make yeasted bread dough rise, and as their waste product of this digestion, they make alcohol (or what my high school microbiology teacher liked to call “yeast pee-pee”.)  The alcohol can be a wonderful by-product if for example you are brewing beer, making hard cider or fermenting wine… but a bad by-product if there are a huge population on them in your 8 year old child’s gut, making him act like a goofy drunk every time he ties on a meal heavy in carbs.  We don’t know which is the problem for Charles, but we decided to take him completely off corn for 1 month and then do a challenge test to see how he’s handling it.  The goal with this is to see if we are going to need to remove corn permenantly from the family diet or not.

In order to keep life as normal as possible and keep one of the few protein delivery devices we have in Charles’ diet, Pioneer Pa  devised the following recipe, which substitutes coarsely ground millet flour for fine cornmeal.

Millet Dogs (Baked NOT Fried… a healthier version of Fair Food!)

You will need: 1 medium sized mixing bowl, a whisk or wooden spoon for stirring, small ladle or serving spoon (for pouring batter into cooking device), bamboo skewers (may be cut in 1/2 for shorter sticks) and a Corn Dog R (this is an electric cooking device, similar to a waffle iron that makes corn dogs and similar foods… we actually baked brownies in ours once but that is a story for another day.  A Corn Dog R can be purchased for about $25 from www.amazon.com by typing corn dog maker into the search in the kitchen section.  It’s worth the investment if you have a family with young kids who like “resturant” type foods).  See pictures below of our Corn Dog R:

Ingredients:

1 cup Millet Flour (white or red will both work equally well, the white will make a more “yellow” corn dog looking millet dog.  Millet Flour is usually a little coarse and mealy like conrmeal)

1/2 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup soy flour (or sweet sorghum flour if you are avoiding soy.  We use soy to get more protein into our very picky  eater Charles)

2 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Xanthan Gum

2  large eggs (or equivalent of egg replacer)

1 TBSP Olive or Canola Oil

1 to 1 1/2 cups water or “milk” substitute (this really depends on how dry your flour is.  You are looking for a pancake batter type consistancy here. Tips from Ma: We’ve used the cooking water from making steamed veg like broccoli and such before to add some extra vitamins and minerals before or added 2 to 4 oz of pureed baby food veggies like peas or green beans for part of the liquid in the batter, because Charles will not willingly eat vegetables except for pumpkin (baked in bread or pies) and tomato- based sauces… thus we usually have to hide veggies in other foods.)

1 pkg of your favorite brand of GF/CF Hot Dogs (remember to read your labels)

Pam-type spray oil for oiling the Corn Dog R to prevent stickage

Instructions:

1. Plug in Corn Dog R to heat up.

2. In your mixing bowl stir together dry ingredients until well blended

3. Beat eggs until they appear “scrambled”.

4. Add eggs and oil to dry mixture and blend well.

5.  Add liquids (veg. puree first if using, then water or milk) a little at a time, stirring between additions until the pancake batter like consistancy is reached.

6. Cut hot dogs in 1/2 so they will fit in the baking wells of the Corn Dog R.

7. Spray the hot, ready to use Corn Dog R with spray oil, coating well to prevent sticking.

8.  Using a large spoon or small ladle, fill the bottom portion of the cooking wells in the Corn Dog R with batter.

9. Place 1/2 hotdog in each well and spoon a little of the batter mixture over the top of the hot dogs.

10. Close the lid.  Slide in the skewer sticks, there is a little hole in the side of each well where the sticks go in after the machine is closed.

11.  Wait for the light to come on indicating the millet dogs are done.  If they aren’t quite as browned as you like, you can close it again and keep cooking another minute or two, before removing them.

12. When Millet Dogs are done, either plate up individual plates or place on a platter to serve family style.  Serve with your favorite condiments.  Baked Sweet Potato Fries or Baked Green Beans make a lovely complimenting side dish.

Allow leftovers  to cool.  Place in freezer safe zipper bags and freeze.  These are easily frozen and warmed up again using the microwave.  These make great quick suppers on the run, after-school snacks or can be packed in the lunch box of your school aged children and so forth.  We often make a double batch of them and freeze a bunch on the weekend for later use… we like to call that DIY Gluten Free Convience Food!

(*Pioneer Pa is the keeper and guru of electric cooking appliances at our house… seriously I burn stuff so easily using small electric appliances that when our last toaster died I refused to get another one and dug the toaster oven out of the camper and brought that in the house… I totally manage to burn stuff in a crockpot… give me a  wood or gas range anyday!)

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Someday this old wood-fired range will be returned to where it belongs, in my home. The previous homeowner of our farm removed it from the house and placed it out in the shop building for storage.  I can’t wait to bring it back, as I learned to cook on this type of appliance (though not nearly this fancy) while living off-grid on my father’s ranch in the mountains of Eastern Washington.

March 19, 2012 is our 1st Mystery Recipe Monday

Starting today, we shall try to post a Mystery Recipe every Monday if possible. If you are a follower here, please stop by our Facebook Page and give us a like over there.  We are going to let everybody know when we’ve added a mystery recipe over there on the Modern Pioneer Family Facebook page before we publish it on here, so you all will be on the look out for our Mystery Recipe Monday posts.

Why, you may ask?  Well, to start that discussion, our recipe posts have been some of our more popular ones and some of our friends are asking for more recipes, maybe as a “regular feature” on certain days.  Another reason is if the recipe is posted as a “surprise recipe” perhaps curiosity will encourage more folks to stop by and check out this new blog.  SO… you ask “why” and I answer “why not”, sounds like fun.

And so… drum roll, please!  Without further ado… our mystery recipe for March 19, 2012 is:

Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

Equipment:

You will need a mid-sized mixing bowl, a rubber/silicone spatula, measuring spoons & cups, a dish-towel and a clean glazed stoneware type crock w/ an old-fashioned bail top (those wire lid closing things like on antique canning jars) or a 1 qt. canning jar with a new lid and band.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups white rice flour (you can also use all brown rice flour if you prefer whole grain breads/rolls, or do what I do, make one of each.  I don’t recommend blending the flours in your sourdough starter, it’s easiest and works best if you keep it simple.)

1 TBSP sugar (use white, brown or maple sugar as you like.  This is not the place for sugar-free sweetener type products. Honey is also not a good idea here, as you could potentially get a botulism contamination problem going in your starter, you don’t want that. If you want to use honey, use it later in your bread recipe after you have doubled the starter and returned 1/2 to the sourdough crock.)

1 TBSP Dry yeast (go ahead and buy it in the jar or in bulk, if you are going gluten-free, chances are you will be baking lots of your own breads, rolls, buns and more. It will cost less in the long run NOT to buy the little packets.)

1 cup water (if you don’t like your tap water or if you have chlorinated water, use bottle drinking/spring water.)

Directions:

In mixing bowl, stir rice flour, yeast and sugar together.  Mix in room temperature water.  Set in a warm (but not hot) place to incubate overnight.  Check it occasionally and stir if necessary, just so it doesn’t try to climb out of the bowl and overflow (why create an extra mess to clean, right?)  If you like that real sourdough type taste, you can incubate the starter 1-3 days longer before parking it in your fridge. I like mine at the point it makes my bread actually taste like bread (and still neutral enough to make cinnamon rolls and the like) but that is only a personal preference.  And if you are feeding your bread to kids, when in doubt go with what they will eat… you can always slowly increase the “sour” quality so they slowly adjust to more grown-up flavors.

Pour your starter into a very clean crock or canning jar, put on the lid and place it in your fridge, until you are ready to bake bread, rolls, etc.

Care of your starter if not being used for a while:  If you know you won’t be using the starter for a while (say you are going on vacation for several weeks), get it out and let it warm to room temp and feed it 2 tsp. sugar and 2 TBSP of rice flour (add a bit of water if you think it looks too thick.)

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