Because of you, I know Love.
Because of you, they do too.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
And especially to YOU, My Love.
The holidays are over (but my tree is still up until Saturday).
My parents have left (leaving my Chicklet at a loss for her beloved Grammy and Grampy).
My work? Still not done, but at least the pile is
neater well… still visible and now sporting a “to-do list” sticky note.
The New Year has begun and I am so very thankful to have had some time with my parents. My dad is tired (chemo, anemia and a variety of other ailments), my mom is amazingly steady and continues to demonstrate grace, and I am still just figuring it all out as it comes. Sometimes it’s strange to me to think of all of our ages and that I have KIDS! What?!?! Kids? I’m a mom? Get out! I still feel like a kid myself! Who knew that this is the way it really would be. Certainly makes me appreciate this bizarre phase of life more.
I am realizing all the things my parents did for and with us that I don’t remember. Raising kids is a bit like raising a future amnesia patient. I will remember all of our lovely little snuggles, games and conversations, but they won’t. It’s definitely eye-opening and character building. It’s sad that we don’t remember these tender moments with our parents as we grow up. But I’m happy I don’t remember teething, etc! Blech! Some things are definitely meant to be forgotten after the experience is over.
Experience is also what makes me able to remove myself from the high school drama that swirls outside my classroom door (and sometimes sneaks through the doorway in whispers, glances and clandestine text messages). Thank goodness none of us have to relive that again, huh? But really, the beautiful part about experience is the sincere appreciation of my parents and their gifts to me.
There are too many instances for me to name, but I will just say this: we are much more like our parents than we will ever know. (And in my case, that is a great thing! I’m lucky.)
My folks just left on Tuesday.
On Monday night, I decided to whip up some brownies for a lunch meeting on Tuesday. I started at 9:45. By 10:20, the brownies were done. But my mom had already gone upstairs to bed (or so we thought) while my Love and I visited with my Dad at the table. As my dad excused himself to join my mom, I went up to say goodnight to her. I didn’t want to miss my chance as I wasn’t sure if she would be up when we left the house early in the morning heading off to daycare/work/school.
I found her at the top of the stairs – holding her laptop and sniffing the air. “Are the brownies done yet?” she asked.
Oh yea. You have to love her.
She came downstairs to make the great sacrifice of taste-testing. I had the brownies cooling on the counter (laying on parchment paper but out of the baking dish). When she and my dad entered the kitchen, they were both whispering about brownies. My dad asked her what she was doing and that he thought she had gone to bed. She laughed and said nope – not when there are fresh brownies in the house.
And then he asked, “Brownies? Where?”
“Yes!” she said, “I can smell them but I don’t see them!”
I chuckled from the other room. Busted by my giggle, my parents laughed too. And then we cut into the delicious, fudgy warm brownies and talked about the quality of them. Oh, chocolate. If not for love to bind our family, I’m sure chocolate would do.
And now that there are a few more gluten-free buddies at work (for a few reasons), I have even more taste-testers. The mistake I made, I guess, was bringing the brownies in from the car before lunch. Why? Well, because they never actually made it to lunch. They were eaten for breakfast. Oh yes, it was a sacrifice indeed.
My normal breakfast it typically a cup of coffee and a banana. This time is was a mighty chocolatey banana with a fabulous coffee kicker and a side of brownie. YUM.
I guess I will just have to make another batch for my meeting on Saturday (8:00AM until 2:00PM, anyone?). Something tells me they might just end up as a Saturday brunch item during our meeting, but I know my chocolate-loving colleagues. They will be all-over the idea of that!
And I know some of you are doing the appropriate thing: avoiding sugar after so many yummy treats during the holidays. But chocolate is like air sometimes: you just GOTTA have it! And besides, my wild rice dish that I am making in the crock pot tomorrow will more than make up for it.
If you get a hangering for some fabulous brownies, try these. When they are warm, they are rich and fudgey. When they cool off, they are still fudgy, but get more cake-like. Either way, they are delicious. And if you don’t want to make your own, you are more than welcome to come to our curriculum planning meeting on Saturday morning to try some of mine.
Gluten Free Quick Brownies
Makes a 6″ x 10″ oblong or 9 inch square pan.
2 eggs, beaten together in a small bowl
2/3 c. GF flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional – but adds a great layer of flavor)
1/2 cup sugar (use 2/3 cup if using all bittersweet chips)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups chocolate chips (1 cup bittersweet, 1 cup milk or semi-sweet)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Happy GF Chocolatey Goodness!
Annual holiday cookie swap? CHECK
Christmas cards mailed? CHECK
Everything wrapped and shipped? Almost a check there… two more to go.
Kiddos in bed? CHECK! CHECK!
Adults in need of heading off to bed too? Oh, YES! CHECK!
But what am I doing? Making pizza, of course.
The word exhaustion means oh-so-much-more to me this year. I thought since we were equally numbered 2 kids: 2 adults, that our ratio of 1:1 would save us. Who was I kidding!! The other night we ALL went to be at 7:15pm and didn’t wake up until the morning. Oh yea. We are T-I-R-E-D! But life is fabulous.
There is nothing like laying on the living floor at night with just the Christmas tree lights on with a toddler wiggling about and a baby snoring in someone’s arms. The Chicklet is loving the “scavenger hunt” for ornaments that she and her Baba playing while they lie there. He asks her to find an ornament, she finds it. And then she challenges him to find the one she is looking at too. It’s quite cute. And very calming. Thank goodness, too, as life is everyone-on-the-run from before sunup until the typical 8:00PM bedtime.
Elfie visits. Photo by Kate Chan
Now that there are presents under the tree, our poor little Chica is tempted beyond all reason to open boxes. (And it doesn’t help that some of the gifts have come wrapped in Buzz Lightyear paper. She is a Buzz/Woody SUPER fan!) So, I got a little creative. You see, I know this elf (ahem) who has come to live with us until Christmas. He is a buddy of Santa’s. And he is just like a Toy Story toy in so much that he is inanimate during the day, but when we aren’t looking, he can scoot off and get messages to Santa. Even better, he is stationed by the gifts to remind the Chica that she is not to open them *just yet*. Since Elfie’s arrival, Z has taken to laying at his feet and contemplating life upon occasion and when she is most tempted to open gifts. Poor little thing. The next five days are going to be hard on her!
Despite the fact that I have TWO HUGE bags of papers to grade, lessons to write, laundry, dusting, wrapping, etc hanging overhead, I am here. I would rather be cooking, writing or playing with the kidlets than doing any of the aforementioned fabulous household and work duties. And since there are several other pressing things to be done, I’m off testing pizza crust recipes.
And as I was mixing and chatting with my Love, I remember the King Arthur Flour company and I wanted to order some goodies for a friend. Little did I know, however, that King Arthur had recently entered in the gluten-free mix line. (In fact, just the day after discovering this, I found their mixes at a local market. But they are SPENDY! ($12/box of muffin mix? YIKES!) And as most of you know, I really do prefer to make my own. It is so much cheaper.
Since I found their GF items, I began to read a little more. They have plenty of recipes on their site that use a basic mix that they prepare. Their GF Flour Mix is: 6 cups brown rice flour, 3 cup potato starch (not flour) and 1 cup tapioca flour. They “stabilize” their brown rice flour so their mix is definitely spendier, but maybe that works for someone who needs the basic mix to last longer than I do. Anyway, since they had their mix posted and a pizza crust recipe, I thought I would try it. (PS. I have NO affiliation with King Arthur, have received no goods/monies, etc to post this and YES, I have their permission to post this recipe and links.)
This pizza crust is tasty. Very tasty. The texture is great – the crunchy bottom of the crust mimics pizza-joint crusts and that is something we’ve missed. (Thus the cast iron pizza recipe.) But this crust has depth to it as well – and it is easy to adapt/add different flavors, etc if you wish. There are, however, a few things you should not mess with. They are as follows:
Beyond that, we did away with the wait time for the sponge. (I’m impatient like that.) In order to get the yeast to rise, we added the sugar to the yeast mixture and not to the flour mix. Other than those changes, we followed their recipe more closely but not exactly. After all, recipes are like guideposts sometimes – you just gotta do your own thing. Although I always recommend following the recipe the first time through and THEN making changes on subsequent batches. You will know what you are working with better.
I’m posting the recipe as we made it. You can find the original recipe here on the King Arthur site.
Gluten Free Pizza Crust
Very slightly modified from the King Arthur Flour recipe (linked above)
Makes: 1 medium-thin crust pizza
You can find a PRINTABLE copy of this recipe here.
1 1/2 cups GF flour mix
2 Tablespoons powdered milk or buttermilk powder
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 Tablespoon yeast (they use 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons olive oil (for dough)
2 Tablespoons olive oil (for pan)
Optional: 1 teaspoons each: granulated garlic, fennel and dried basil.
After all, it might be the Holiday season…. but sometimes you just have to eat comfort food too!
Happy GF Eating!