Gluten Free Flour Mixture

I’ve been big on baking since childhood, so when I first had to go GF it struck me as a tragedy to no longer be able to bake/knead bread or throw together a batch of cookies.  While I am dedicated to recipe-free living, I spent some time in cookbooks and on GF websites to try and figure out the secrets to GF baking. I tried just about every flour blend I could find in the process.  Here’s a quick breakdown of what I found:

  1. Many gluten free flour blends are full of relatively unhealthy things/ starches that help the flour stick together but are unhelpful to digestion and your daily nutrient intake. If you are buying a flour blend and the first few ingredients are potato/corn/tapioca starch, you are not doing your body any favors. The same goes for any gluten free product, i.e. when I buy GF bread I always check to make sure that the first few ingredients are whole food flours such as brown rice, garbanzo, quinoa…

    With that said, I reserve the use of starchy GF flour blends for baking something for show/ an event/ a gift. Those starches that make your baked goods less healthy also help your baked goods have a good consistency! From what I’ve experienced, at times they are necessary to create a similar texture and lightness to wheat flour items.

  2. Gluten Free cookbooks offer ridiculous flour blend solutions. I’ve seen some that have you blending 7 different flours together. Not that I don’t stock a solid arsenal of flours (which I’ll get into next), but I require simpler and more streamlined options! It’s a lot of work to go from using one item (wheat flour) to pre-blending seven items for the same purpose!
  3. Bob’s Red Mill is everything. Whether you are buying your own arsenal of flours or just going for a GF brownie mix that does all the work for you, this brand is trustworthy and consistently fantastic.
  4. No single flour blend is perfect for every single need. It’s good to have a number of flours at hand to customize toward flavor and texture. I realize this conflicts with my insistence that GF blending must be simple, so I will break down a simple way of mixing in different flours for specific results.

 

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A picture of cookies to break up the serious flour talk. Now, back to serious flour talk.

NOW REVEALING MY SACRED TRINITY OF FLOURS!

 

Having been GF for almost ten years now, I have found my way back to recipe-free baking and can throw together pancakes, cookies, or a bundt cake anytime I like with great results and without added complication! My go-to flour blend is healthy and simple. So simple that there is no need to pre-blend it! Here it is: for every cup of “flour”, I use half a cup of brown rice flour and half a cup of almond flour, with two tablespoons of coconut flour added in. That’s a bit convoluted, so allow me to explain so I can continue insisting that it’s simple. First off, I don’t actually measure the coconut flour. I basically take a half-cup measuring cup, fill it about 1/4 way with coconut flour, then fill it the rest of the way with almond flour. This is because I abhor excessive measuring. Here’s what’s awesome about this flour:

  1. it’s nutrient rich and includes no added starches
  2. it won’t break the bank, as brown rice flour is basically the cheapest GF flour you can get
  3. coconut flour absorbs fluids very intensely, so it takes the place of a starch in holding your baked good together. Sure, it doesn’t result in as much of a wheat-flour-like texture as starches can, but it’s better for your digestion and nutrient intake!

The cookies in the image above were baked with that flour blend, and they look pretty straightforward, right? My golden ration of GF flours always results well!

 

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Brownies made with my flour blend

 

This blend of three flours is my go-to, yet I keep quite a few other flours at hand, such as garbanzo, buckwheat, oat, sorghum, and ground flax seed for now, I haven’t tried quinoa flour yet but will soon. When I want to use one of those flours, I basically just add it into my blend with the same sensibility of replacing a cup of flour. For example, I would use 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/3 cup almond flour (with a little coconut flour added to the measuring cup), and 1/3 cup oat flour to replace a cup of flour in a recipe. These different flours offer different textures and flavors to what you are baking.

Oat Flour
is a bit sticky when wet, which you can imagine if you consider how oatmeal thickens up! This makes oat flour helpful for recipes where you want a denser consistency. I add it to my blend when I make brownies, and sometimes for pancakes because I like the oat flavor in them but this makes for some pretty thick pancakes.

Garbanzo Flour
is high in protein and commonly found in commercial Gf baked goods. Garbanzo flour is nutrient rich and great for baked goods with a crispy consistency, but will add the flavor of garbanzo’s. I’ve found that in baked sweets, you may not taste the garbanzo the first day you’ve made your treat, but the flavor becomes more pronounced the longer it sits on your counter. Because of this (and it’s added crispy consistency), I tend to use it for non-sweet items, such as GF pizza dough, veggie burgers, or to bread something for frying.

Sorgum Flour
provides almost as good a consistency in your flour blend as brown rice flour does, so it’s nice to have on hand for if you run out of brown rice flour! I mainly keep this flour stocked for when I make South Asian food, as you can make roti’s with it.

Buckwheat Flour
has a gritty consistency like graham flour, so it is good for a heartier texture. I use it to make focaccia breads or when I try make biscuits (haven’t really gotten them down yet…).

Ground Flax Seed
flax works even better than coconut flour at absorbing fluids and binding your batter together. I use it when I’m making something that needs that extra stickiness, such as when I’m making blueberry muffins, as the stickiness prevents the blueberries from getting weighed down to the bottom of the muffin. Ground flax will change the appearance and texture of your baked good, however, in that it is not a fine flour so it adds a fibrous texture.

Again, when I use one of these flours I just add 1/3 a cup of it to 1/3 a cup brown rice flour and 1/3 a cup of almond flour with a little coconut flour added in.  It’s a simple way to customize baking results.

As I experiment with other flours I will be adding to this post and sharing the results, I’d love to hear flour feedback as well!  

Eslanda Robeson

eslanda front
Finished this book tonight, and rather sad to have it be done. What an inspiring lady! The many reflections in this book brought me in ways to a better understanding of myself. Essie was an anthropologist who was not entirely academic, but driven by a love of the world and a desire to glory in it’s cultures, defend the marginalized/dehumanized, and set right and fair all the world’s wrongs. Her story is an important brick in the wall of understanding American history- she was an absolute agitator because there was so much in the status quo that was worthy of agitating against- and to read about her life is to understand that she was more than a trailblazer, she was a… trail volcano? This book is written to be an informative and adoring  document displaying who Essie was.  Because of who she was, it often reads more like a textbook than a biography.  The woman was so involved with the political climate of her time and honestly, of the future, that describing her interactions and activities becomes almost immediately a work of academic detail.

eslanda This is a perfect summary of how and why she demands such an academic voice.  She has become, for me, an iconic hero.

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The American Machine

Poem previously published in “Rise: An Anthology of Power and Unity” by Vagabond Books

 

The American Machine

In the America I live in,
Much is made of the American gangster

This is why “Scarface” and “The Godfather”
Don’t leave weekly cable tv rotation

But it also spreads to the famous
American notion of success-
“The dream”

In which everyone must
Start from nothing to gain something

Even seen in the way Americans laud
The born-into-it big timer
As long as he served a summer stint at McDonalds
Or if he in any other way devoted himself
To a great American franchise

I am not generalizing but absolutely do mean
“he”
Because the American dream
Provides different avenues for a female
She comes up not from common labor and pluck
But out of motherhood
Sexual abuse
Or decades of marriage

What I mean is we like to see the men-
Businessman
Politician
Entrepreneur
Eccentric

Who we can say understands
The value of the American dollar
(our values)
Because he has dabbled temporarily
In what could be described as
“struggling”
The issue here is that
I’ve had many friends and acquaintances
Who had plenty of pluck
Good luck
Worth ethic
And strike-it-rich intentions

And yet never made it above
Floor manager
Head server
Key holder
Opening supervisor

Or some other condescending stunt
That clearly was meant to say
You are better than average
But should be paid
Only slightly above average

I have known so many people
That worked hard and were willing
To work harder
Who worked a 70 hour work week
On a meager salary check that was designed
To abuse them

I have known many men and women
Who kept as keen to 70 hours a week schedules
As a well sharpened knife
Hoping it could cleave them to ease and a better income

While a life of ease remains a needle head
That almost no one threads

Some of the hardest working people I’ve known
Were single mothers and ex-convicts
Who worked on factory assembly lines
After eventually coming to understand
That much like in grade-school sports
Non-participation in the American economy
Is more despised than failure to succeed

(The American dream is a deliberate machine
That produces citizens who are prepared
To do whatever it takes to succeed in some way
The gangster no different from the lawmaker
From the paid lover
From the president
From the CEO
From the distributer
From the boy at 14 first learning to con with an innocent smile
To chase this dream is to admit one’s self
To a series of self-degradations
That may prove to be endless

But just may prove in the end
That you are worthy to degrade others)

Tractor heading in for repairs…

 

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Sarah not entirely enthused by a suggestion of Jerk’s

Today we moved the 1960’s International Harvester from it’s home in our back yard to the driveway where it could be picked up by it’s previous owners from Harwinton for repair. Our friend Sarah did the steering while Jerk pushed the unwilling tractor forward with the backhoe, as husband Paul and son Torrin looked on from the deck (in yard pic) and daughter Sonoma fed RiffRaff a carrot or two (Lando also had carrots, was anti-social/photogenic)

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The Over-Employed

Poem published previously in “Rise: An Anthology of Power and Unity” by Vagabond Books

The Over-Employed

In America,
We like to classify our levels of destitution-
The news will often report the rates of homelessness,
The un-employed, the under-employed…
I
’d like to add to this hopeless list
The over-employed.
Those who excel at scraping by,
Who get confused by a day off,
Whose car/bus bag is full of hangers
From switching uniforms between jobs,
Who feel like it’s a luxury to eat a meal sitting down.

This category of people don’t do “Well.”
They are mostly too busy to “get ahead,”
“luck out,” or “take advantage of opportunity.”

Instead they get/luck/take
Shopper’s discount promotions,
Government programs,
And public transportation.

We may not have what you could mark on an application
As “special skills,”
But we know how to cook dried beans into something
That seems elaborately planned.

We know how to get on our knees in front of a bathtub
And
wash our clothes by hand.
We know a dozen alternate ways to make money
If/when our second or first jobs fall through (again).

We are the elite set of humans that never get up very high
Yet always end up having to land on our feet.

We work hard so your statistics don’t have to.