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Archive for November, 2011

Friday Dance, Saturday Knit, Sunday Food

Friday, November 18th, 2011

For local folks (Lansing, Michigan, USA), I want to get the word out on my upcoming activities. Often folks hear about my events after it’s too late to attend. I’m going to make this week right, anyway.

Friday, November 18. Shows 6:30 and 7:30 for about 1/2 hour each.

I will be dancing as “Eudora” with another dancer, at New Aladdins restaurant in Frandor. It’s across the entry street from Panera, near the video store. Great, home-made food. Family-owned, family-friendly restaurant specializing in mideastern/ Lebanese fare. It’s always a great time, I hope you can join us.

Saturday, November 19. Both classes at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, 2004 E. Michigan, a few doors west of Emil’s Italian restaurant and across from the Green Door. 336-YARN

Crystal Heels Class 12:00-2pm
This is an afterthought heel that actually fits a heel (rather than being shaped like a toe). I taught this class at Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon last August. You don’t need a plane ticket to learn this technique.

Buttons & Beads Bowls 2:30-4:30pm
This fun, felted bowl goes very fast on fat needles, and shrinks into a small bowl perfect for decorations, gifts, or loose pocket change. Decorate with buttons and/or beads, or make it in a multicolored yarn which needs no embellishment. Go home with a gift mostly finished.

Sunday, November 20. 1-3pm Foods for Living, East Lansing, Grand River at the end of Park Lake Rd. (East of Denny’s.) Employee-Locally-owned healthy food grocery.

Holiday Dessert Demo and Cookbook Sale I’ll be bringing my cookbook and samples of holiday desserts. Vegan pumpkin pie (no eggs or milk). Gluten-free muffins. Allergy-friendly goodies! Tell your friends, and come out for a sample. The cookbook is a great holiday gift. It’s also a lifesaver for those cooking for loved ones with restrictions during this season of relationship.


Knitcircus Magazine: My Sprite Cowl/Collar!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Today the Winter 2011-2012 Knitcircus Magazine goes online. I’m delighted to announce that one of my designs, the Sprite cowl/collar, is included.

Knitcircus is a high-quality online knitting magazine published in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. All visitors can read all articles and see lovely photos of all featured patterns of the month. The pattern collections of each issue are available for sale in PDF format, if you wish to knit a design which is featured.

Sprite grew out of my continuing love of zigzag/chevron patterns. I love diagonal lines and triangles, too! Jaala told me she would love to include one of my “signature zigzags” in her magazine. How could I say no?

I exercise by walking in my neighborhood most nights. It can get pretty windy and brisk after the sun goes down, and neckwarmers/cowls of different types are important to my comfort on those walks.

This one can be tucked in under a coat collar to block wind and increase warmth in the shoulders. I like it on top of a crewneck sweater or plain dress indoors, as well. It’s jewelry without the weight.

I knit the first version (in Cascade Lana d’Oro, a worsted-weight wool/alpaca plied yarn)  and sent it off for photographs. Instead of going on to the next project, I contemplated the structure of the piece and wondered how else it might present itself.

I had included paired eyelets for detail near the hem edge of the cowl. I wondered how much they would show if I knit with an almost-solid hand dyed yarn. Fortunately, I’d been eyeing a soft teal washable merino yarn, Malabrigo Rios, at Rae’s Yarn Boutique. It was perfect. I knit the 2nd one in just two days, and mailed it out to join the first for a photo session.

You can view this in Knitcircus on page 90, or on Ravelry here (free membership required to see some things on Ravelry). Patterns can be  purchased only with the collection on Knitcircus.

I’ll be having a bit of a contest here to win something from Knitcircus… I am waiting to get details on this offer from Jaala Spiro, the editor of the magazine. Do stay tuned to find out how to win.

Above/modeled photos today are courtesy of Knitcircus. Thanks, Jaala!

A Sweater from Scratch

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Emily is a young woman with fashion design training. Emily likes color, and knitting colorwork in particular.

Emily set out to make an amazing sweater. From scratch. No pattern, just inspiration.

She succeeded. Go, Emily!

Now if I could somehow figure out how to make a clone of that sweater and it fit me, I’d be a happy woman…

Great Pizza – no Wheat/Yeast!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

I’ve been eating without yeast since 1991. I’ve been without wheat for maybe 5 years, maybe more. I honestly don’t feel tempted to “cheat” because I feel so crummy if I do.

You may have similar limitations. It’s becoming rather widespread right now, this food-restriction situation. We won’t get into why, but I remember how alone I felt at first.

Gourmet, thanks to Restrictions

Usually, I feel as though we eat gourmet around here… excellent food, flavors, quality, ingredients. Everything we eat is really superb.

However, there are missing pieces. Sometimes certain foods haunt my memory.

I love chewy foods, in particular. Tapioca helps sometimes. Pizza (made with both wheat and yeast) was something I didn’t miss for a long time. However, walking past a pizza restaurant brought back longings.

The Exploration Process

Once I started experimenting  in the kitchen, I started to wonder if I could make something which would satisfy my pizza cravings. Of course, the first many experiments were failures.

I ended up with fragile biscuit-like doughs which could not be picked up in the hands without self-destructing. Sometimes they got soggy, on top of the fragile texture. Those we ate with forks, and it was dinner… but not pizza.

I didn’t know how to solve the falling-apart issue. Most gluten-free/wheat-free mixes solve the stick-together issue by adding Xanthan Gum. Because it is made by fermented corn, it is a problem for me. I put pizza dough on the mental back burner and went back to simpler challenges.

Sweet Rice Flour (AKA Mochi Flour)

When I found out about sweet white rice flour (also called sticky rice, mochi, or “glutinous rice” though it has no gluten), I figured out how to make chewy brownies, which had eluded my mastery for many years.

And then I had an “Aha!” moment. Maybe sticky rice could also hold together a pizza crust? Indeed, it could. It took a good number of tweaks to get it really good, but the first one was better than all the previous tries put together.

I combine the rice with Teff flour, which is high-protein and high-fiber. Teff is tasty, a helpful attribute when used with bland rice. I also use flax seed meal which adds nutrition and has a different type of stickiness to help bind the crust.

Teff can dry out quickly. Because of that, this crust tends to get crispy/crunchy at the edges if made as illustrated here.

I sort of like that feature, but for those who prefer chewy edges, there are a few tricks which will help a lot. You get a slightly smaller pizza that way, but it is a bit more like the pizzas you remember from pre-food-restriction days.

Pizza as a Creative Art

We have become really fond of pizza with all sorts of toppings on it. I figure pizza crust just needs some sort of “sauce” under it, and some toppings on it.

I can’t have any sort of cheese, even the soy or allergy-friendly ones. They all have xanthan gum or yeast flavoring or some such thing. (Someone will ask about goat cheese… I do worse with goat milk than organic cow-dairy milk.) No cheese meant that I got more creative.

We use pizza as a feast from our leftovers about once a week now. I have used all sorts of sauces, from Eden brand Crushed Tomatoes, Tomatillo Salsa Verde (helps to strain some of the water out first), leftover Indian Eggplant (Baigan Burtha), homemade pesto, and the always spectacular black olive paste (sometimes called Tapenade).

For me, pizza really needs onions on it (I can’t have garlic). I usually saute some in a small frying pan, in olive oil, while pre-baking the crust. Other than that, we’ve put leftover collard greens on pizza, sliced home-grown tomato (really good on the olive paste base).

No Cheese?

I happen to love black olives. I find that they have the oil, the salt, and a similar-enough texture to mozzarella that I feel satisfied. There is nothing like the chewiness of pizza cheese, but a good crust and good toppings come together quite well.

Someone asked me how the pizza stayed “stuck” together without the cheese. If you have a sturdy crust, it will hold things on it just fine. I don’t think we lose more toppings while eating this than we did with standard pizza.

Are you ready for the recipe? Remember, if you can get the ingredients locally, please support your local businesses. If you can’t, then the folks at Bob’s Red Mill have a great mail-order/website sales staff. Click that link to order your flour and flax meal, and you’ll have what you need without much delay.

Lynn’s No-Junk Pizza Crust

Makes one pizza, 2 moderate adult portions.
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup Sweet White Rice Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill—
must be SWEET rice, no substitute)
1/2 cup Teff flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 Tbsp Flax meal (golden flax shows less, any type works)
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/8 tsp Cream of tartar

Wet Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Oil (use any you tolerate, I often use olive)
3/4 cup Hot water

Preheat oven to 350F / 177C

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly (I use a wire whisk). Add wet ingredients, mix with fork until just mixed.

Gently press dough together with clean hands, until it makes a cohesive “blob.” Let rest at least 3 minutes.

Prepare jelly roll pan with a dusting of teff flour in the center. Sprinkle teff flour on dough ball until it feels mostly dry on the surface.

Press dough into oval shape with hands, onto pan, adding sprinkles of teff flour as it becomes sticky. Use a rolling pin or flat-sided glass to roll it thinner, from center to edge, until about 1/8 inch / 3mm thick.

If you prefer a thicker, chewier crust on the edge, turn under or over about 1/2 inch/13mm of the dough edge (something like a pie crust). Press into a thicker/smoother edge. Using a pastry brush and olive oil (or other oil you tolerate), baste around the circumference of the pizza, covering the thicker dough edges. This keeps the edges from becoming crispy, protecting its chewiness. The photos here do not show this extra step.

Pre-bake crust for 15 minutes.  (This is when I saute onions/veggies for the toppings.) As you remove crust from oven, increase heat in oven to 375F / 190C. The crust may have some cracks in it, which is not a problem.

Prepare for Toppings

Using pastry brush and olive oil, baste entire crust. This keeps it from getting soggy in the middle from toppings, and prevents the edges from becoming too crisp. Don’t fret about the oil, it’s much healthier than dairy fat in cheese, and you wouldn’t mind cheese on pizza, would you?

Spread the sauce of your choice on the oiled crust. If you are making a standard pizza, use crushed tomato plus a generous sprinkle of dried basil and oregano (or Italian Seasoning – but read ingredients first, they can change from batch to batch).

Add desired toppings. Black olives are highly recommended if you do not tolerate cheese. I usually add sauteed onions and other veggies. Very thinly sliced cauliflower or greens are pleasant changes of pace, and we’ve even put summer squash on ours.

If your toppings don’t have oil in them already, lightly trickle some olive oil over the whole assembly.

Bake again (at the higher temperature), for 12-18 minutes depending on the type and quantity of toppings you used. It should be sizzling when done, and your veggies should look a bit droopy from cooking.

Cut with scissors or pizza cutter. Enjoy!

Final photo shows black olive paste as the sauce, with orange home-grown tomatoes, onion, sauteed kale and tiny squares of extra-firm tofu.
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Copyright 2011 Lynn DT Hershberger
Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported” license—    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

This means you may share my recipe for non-commercial use, but (please) use the same text I did, and give me credit for being its source. If you want to use it commercially, please write me first and we’ll work out something.

I spent a lot of time figuring this out and writing it up for you. Enjoy it, share it… and perhaps help me find folks who can benefit from my work? There are still suffering folks out there.