Sunday, September 25, 2011

Currant Scones

It's been a weather day here in South Carolina and when that happens on a Sunday, I'm very likely to want to spend the day in the kitchen. I already had pinto beans started in the slow cooker, so my thoughts turned to cookies or brownies.

But then I remembered that $12 bag of xanthan gum I bought this summer when I tried making gluten-free bread. Out of that bag I had used maybe 1-2 teaspoons and it peeks at me from behind all my other little specialty bags of flours whenever I open the cupboard. "You are allowing me and my expensive contents to go to waste,"  it seems to accuse.

So I pulled out another spendy ingredient...sorghum flour... and checked the back for a recipe. (I should note here that sorghum flour is also about $12 a bag, but it's not as snotty to me when I dig around in the cupboard.)

Lo and behold I had on hand all the ingredients for these gluten-free scones. Even currants!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor (Use a bigger one than mine. Mine can't hold all these ingredients, so I mixed and cut in the butter by hand in a bowl) combine:

1 1/4 C GF Sorghum Flour
1/2 C Tapioca Flour
1 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/4 tsp Salt
4 Tblsp Sugar

Cut in until it resembles coarse crumbs:

4 Tbsp Butter,cut into 1/2-inch slices

In another bowl, lightly beat:

1 large egg


2/3 C low-fat plain yogurt or 1/2 C non-dairy milk (like a nut or soy milk)

Pour the yogurt mixture over the flour mixture and combine, mixing only just until all the dry ingredients are wet.

Fold in:

1/3 C Currants

Drop the mixture onto an oiled cookie sheet and push into a disk about 8-10 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch tall.

Brush the top with:

2 Tblsp Milk (cow, soy or nut)

Bake 12-20 minutes, depending upon how large and tall your disk is. Just give it a light flick with your fingernail after 15 minutes. If it still seems a little squishy, give it more time.

Remove from oven and cut into 8 triangles.

Notes: Remember this a quickbread, so you really don't want to overmix the batter. That will make it tough. Also, you want that butter to stay cold in the dough until you bake, so resist the urge to mix the dough with your hands. Work with wooden spoons and work quickly and you'll be fine.

Thanks for another great recipe, Bob's Red Mill!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Oil Pulling

Image from
I've come across mentions of the practice of oil pulling in the past few months and decided to give it a try.

The most recent article I read was here in Elephant Journal. I had tried it for a few days last summer with sesame oil and just couldn't stick with it. This article mentions using coconut oil and I do agree that it is a bit easier on the taste buds.

There are many articles (here, here, and here are a few) about the health benefits of the practice and I'll be the first to admit that some of the claims are rather...fantastical. But essentially the idea is that the sticky oil "pulls" the toxics and bacteria away from the surfaces in your mouth. You spit out the oil and with it? The icky junk. You are supposed to do this first thing in the morning before you eat or drink or brush your teeth so that you can get all that stuff that has accumulated in there overnight. It does seem to make some sense.

It's not for the faint-hearted, though. Recommended pulling time is 15-20 minutes, but I think any amount of time you do it will be better than not doing it at all. I'm allowing a minimum of 10 minutes in the morning and, if I can keep myself occupied with lunch packing or sorting out my attire for the day, I'll go longer.

The jar cost about $9 at Harris Teeter but it won't go to waste if I give up. It's a great massage  oil (no, it doesn't smell like coconut), or conditioner for the hair and can be cooked with at moderate temps.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm Not a Yoga Teacher

But I've been playing one after school on Mondays. This past Monday I had only two students, but I have had 6 or 8 in other classes. I'm doing it for free. Because I think our teachers need relaxation and because it gives me someone to practice with. It's also because I'm not a teacher and I might suck. I remind them of this. I think as long as I have at least one person coming, I'll keep doing it. It's not the numbers that really matter.

It has been a bit of a challenge writing the sets. But not overwhelming. We are meeting for 45 minutes, so I'm designing sets that are a little less than half the amount of time I usually experience in my teacher's classes. I have a wide variety of people in there...some are fairly flexible and others are not at all. I worry about the ones with physical issues. What if I can't figure out stuff for them to do? But I can't worry too much. I have a teacher I can refer them to and I do that if I need to.

I think I might enjoy doing this. I'm finding myself thinking maybe one day I'll scrabble together the $$ to take yoga teacher training. Just so I can still keep giving it away.

We'll see.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Unimaginable

"I can't leave work to come get him. His father is all the way across town and it will take a while," the mother said when the school called her. She sounded defeated and at her wit's end. Her son had walked down the hall toward his classroom, came up to another boy and punched him. Her son's behavior in school had already earned him expulsion the previous spring and now, with school only in session four weeks, he was looking at expulsion again. And possibly assault charges.

The boy will be 16 soon and when he turns 16 he may be eligible for some other programs that are geared more for children with these kinds of issues. A regular, public high school simply does not have the resources to deal with children who are violent, unmotivated, possibly gang-affiliated or otherwise too far outside the mainstream with their behavior.  At some point the school and district have to make a decision that they can no longer serve this student. The safety of the other students has to take precedence over graduation rate.

My heart breaks for this parent. And for other parents that feel like they are at the end of their rope. When you bring home that brand new, 6 lb, 13 oz little boy, you never in a million years imagine that some day you may have to give him to someone else to get him to adulthood. You never in a million years think that you may be dealing with drug issues, violence, and abuse. You never think that your child might have severe learning issues on top of that. That you may get to the point where you no longer feel safe in your own home because you are worried this child may harm you or your other children.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Accidental Rose'

If you are going to accidentally buy rose' wine, this is a pretty good one. I do that sometimes...I'll be browsing through Harris Teeter, looking at the wines and reading the ratings, and then I'll find a white or red I want to try...and I'll accidentally get something I never would have tried on purpose. I guess I just didn't notice the clear bottle and redness of the wine?

As a rule, rose' wines frustrate me. I always feel like I'm drinking watered-down kool-aid. This one grew on me.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yup. I Remember. But Some of it I Don't.

I remember sitting at my desk in my home office. I was working for The Cleveland Company, looking out over the back deck, listening to NPR, when I got a message from my brother-in-law.

 "Are you watching this?"
"Listening on the radio," I said. "I imagine St. Paul is a mess right now."
"Not the World Trade Center in St. Paul," he said. "The one in New York!"

Not a little Cessna. Four large, passenger-bearing planes. Boeing 757s and 767s.

I hadn't been listening closely. It was a beautiful day in my neighborhood in Minneapolis. The air was pleasant, the leaves were turning, I was thinking about walking to the precinct to vote.

This past Friday Taylor said they talked in their classes about where they were when the Twin Towers were hit. These kids are all 16. They were babies then. Kindergarten...first grade. He said he didn't have a memory of that day.

"You guys didn't tell me," he said. "Why? I didn't hear about it for a couple of years."

I had no reason. No recollection of deciding to tell or not to tell. Nate would have been 11. Did we talk about it with him? I don't remember that either. I said, "Surely you had to have known something was going on. We probably had the news on all day." He didn't remember. I don't either. All I could say to him was that I didn't remember. That we may have made a conscious decision to shelter him from it. We may have intentionally kept it down low as topic of conversation. We've never really been into hiding dark things from the kids, but we might have. I just don't remember.

I remember the moments I saw it on television after Jeff told me. I remember walking to the precinct to vote and it was so quiet. Everyone at the polling place was quiet...murmuring to each other. Quietly handling bad news like all Scandinavians do.

The quiet is probably a bigger memory for me of that day and several days that followed. We lived under the flight line of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Planes had all been grounded. So there was an eerie silence for all those days.

It was also my sister Julia's 40th birthday. My brother-in-law had planned a wonderful meal out at a nice restaurant in St. Paul. He'd made reservations for our entire family. He was in Seattle and should have flown back in time for the meal. But he was stuck there. "You have to go ahead anyway," he told us. "It's her birthday."

And so we went to this restaurant, which was very empty, and we ate a fantastic meal and we talked about the day and we wished Julia a happy 40th and commiserated with her that her birthday would probably forever be marred by this national event.

I suppose everyone born on December 7 before 1941 felt that way too.