Gluten Free Goodness

Despite the fact that I've been eating gluten free for almost a year and a half, I had homemade GF Pizza for the first time last night.

For reasons I don't entirely understand, gluten free baking has always been off-putting to me somehow.  Maybe it's a fear of failure.  Maybe a reluctance to change the way I've been doing things since I was 12.  Whatever the reason, since making my dietary shift, I haven't done much baking.
Until a few weeks ago.

Sarah over at Celiac in the City shared her grandmother's recipe for Monster Cookies.  Because they're a flour-free cookie, they're naturally gluten-free, and, hence, less intimidating for yours truly.  They are "omg"-inducingly good.


I've made them twice in the past month.  They're that good.  My first batch was for a Super Bowl party.  And I may or may not have stood in the bulk candy aisle and picked through the m&ms for the green and gold ones.  This last time, I decided to make them a little healthier, since I seem to be incapable of eating less than six of these buggers in a day.  I added dried cranberries, golden raisins and chopped pecans and omitted the m&ms.  I also shorted the sugar - omitting all the white sugar and increasing the brown sugar by a quarter cup.  This less-sweet cookie was actually more to my liking, as I've become sensitive to sweets.

Flying high on my recent cookie success, I decided that I should try my hand at GF Pizza!  I go to Transfer fairly often for their delicious GF pizzas, but I'm trying to curtail my restauranting budget.  I've had a recipe for Gluten Free Pizza Crust in my recipe box for ages.  Unfortunately, I don't know the original source - my mom clipped it from a newsletter for me.  I was glad I finally tried it.

The texture was slightly dense and chewy, but in a pleasant way.  The edges had a delicious crispness.  I topped my crust with what was on hand - jarred pasta sauce, caramelized onions and baby portabella mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and black olives.

Gluten Free Pizza Crust
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, skim  (I used rice milk)
1/2 teasp. sugar
2/3 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teasp. xanthan gum
1/2 teasp. salt
1 teasp. Italian Seasoning (I used 1/2 tea. each dried oregano and basil)
1 teasp. olive oil
1 teasp. apple cider vinegar
Corn meal and rice flour (to prevent sticking)

- Preheat oven to 425*
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk for five minutes.  In food processor, blend the rest of the ingredients, including yeast mixture, until ball forms.  Dough will be soft
- Put mixture into greased 12-inch nonstick pizza pan
- Liberally sprinkle corn meal onto pizza sheet and press the dough into the pan with your hands. Sprinkle with rice flour to prevent sticking.  Make edges thicker to contain toppings.
(I used corn meal, but didn't need any rice flour to prevent sticking.  I think next time I'll omit the corn meal as well.  Don't be scared that the dough is a little hard to work with.  It'll come out just fine!)
- Bake pizza crust for 10 minutes.   Remove from oven and add sauce and toppings.  Bake another 20 - 25 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.  (Mine was ready in just under 20 minutes.)


Snowed In

Well, like most of the midwest, Cream City Green got clobbered with a blizzard over the past few days.  I must admit, as a former Yooper, the prospect of 12 - 20" of snow in and of itself doesn't phase me much.  But even by my hearty standards, this was a heckofa storm.

Before I bought my current house, I was living in a duplex with a three-car garage and a side drive.  With all that driveway to contend with, my dad got me a snowblower.  I don't use it much here in the new house, with all 35' of street frontage, but it sure was nice to have yesterday!

Here's what I saw when I opened the drapes on Wednesday morning:

Even Cream City Pooch was having a hard time locating the steps:

We had some pretty serious drifts along the side of the house, too:
Those are full-size windows, by the way.
And, yes, for those of you paying attention, a rain barrel is on the wish-list for this summer!

The storm helped to point out some areas of the house that need some better weatherproofing.
I'll be replacing this door (moving it, actually):

And it looks as though the (detached) garage could use a bit of weatherproofing, too!

I actually love when Mother Nature makes us all stop in our tracks for a day or two.  It reminds us all of how fickle our lifestyle really can be.  I also love the way neighbors band together during snowstorms.  Yesterday, I spent nearly four hours clearing the alley and chatting with neighbors that we had never met.  We're already discussing barbecues and block parties for the warmer months!

As a parting note, I feel I should mention ...  Global Climate Change (or Global Warming, as most folks call it) is indicated by overall increased earth temperatures.  In temperate to cold climates, like ours, however, it is indicated by stronger and more frequent storm events and not necessarily by a decrease in annual snowfall or cold days.  
That's right.  Counter-intuitive as it may seem, yesterday's blizzard may well have been a symptom of global warming.

I hope you all got dug out, and enjoyed your day off.
Now I'm off to find another blanket and cup of coffee.....