Adventures in gluten-free breadmaking

When it came to light that I am allergic to approximately all delicious foods, I figured I might as well cut my losses and just be done with bread for good. I mean, you can get gluten-free bread at the supermarket, but I hesitate to even call it bread. The “loaves” are about the size of my fist, about as heavy as my head, and cost about ten dollars. It’s okay, I thought. I can handle it. I like eating meat and vegetables… FOREVER.

I perked up a little at the discovery of frozen gluten-free waffles, which can, in a pinch, substitute for bread… quite deliciously in fact.

But then, glory of glories, I learned of a magical breadmaker that has a dedicated gluten-free setting. What does this mean, you ask? Well, to be honest I’m not 100% sure. But I think it has to do with a) the fact that you have to mix and knead the shit out of gluten-free breads to make them even moderately elastic and bread-like, which is something that regular breadmakers don’t do. b) the paddle has to be really sturdy to support those super-dense gluten-free flours without cracking. c) there’s maybe one less rising cycle? Gluten-free baking is a finicky art. Some things work out really well (ie my now-famous gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free bacon chocolate chip cookies) and other things are total failures.

Then for my birthday this year, some of my friends, no doubt tired of listening to me complain, chipped in to buy it for me! So far, I’ve made 4 loaves of bread with my magic breadmaker. The first one was mediocre because I got too impatient and didn’t wait for all the ingredients to become room temperature. The second one was transcendent. It had the taste and consistency of real bread. I used it for a SANDWICH. I don’t know if you realize how amazing that is. The third loaf was a total flop because again, I got impatient and didn’t use the right ingredients. However! I did use the bread-like product to make croutons. The fourth loaf was good. Not great, but good.

But the point is, even GOOD bread is a revelation to me. I can dip it in things! I can put things on it! Toast! This breadmaker is amazing. I’ve only used the GF setting, but it has several regular bread settings, as well as a “dough” setting for if you want to mix and rise dough but then cook it in the oven (for, say, rolls or bagels), it has a “pasta” setting for, I can only assume, making pasta. AND it has a “jam/jelly” setting for making jelly. I find this last setting a little inscrutable, but I trust my Breadman implicitly. I know he wouldn’t let me down, not even for jelly.

I may not be able to blithely toss bags of bread into my shopping cart like the rest of you, but now I can make delicious alchemy out of sorghum, teff, and a whole bunch of other weird grains you’ve never even heard of!

Happy Valentine’s Day

In honor of this most milquetoast of imaginary holidays, I give you my celebratory feast:

Gluten-free vegan red velvet cookies with vegan cream cheese icing. Roughly pilfered from this recipe.

Pan-fried chicken hearts with a side of golf sauce.

Feels good to eat the heart of another animal and wash it down with a crapload of sugar. Mmm. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Garden State

I’m a little bit slow here –  just watched Garden State last night. But I have some questions. Or, really, one question.

I found this movie barely watchable. The dialogue was irritating to me… almost on par with Juno, it had a strange combination of melodrama and cutesy aloofness, as well as one of the movie tropes that I find most aggravating. I don’t remember the conversation about the movie when it came out, so can someone tell me what I missed? What does everyone like about it?

As it is right now, I’m thinking I might have been better off watching the Superbowl. Is that one word?

Advice and the giving of it

I’ve been writing a novel for almost three months now, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m an expert at novel writing. In other words — you can pretty much take my words as the gold standard on this particular endeavor and success, women, and riches will inevitably be showered upon your person.

Wouldn’t that be nice to hear? I’d love some definitive advice on novel writing. But it isn’t to be. Each novel, they say, is different. Each writer is different. Each writer is different while writing each different novel. How irritating is that? So I found when I turned to Twitter for advice on whether or not to start editing my novel from the beginning before finishing the first draft.  The resounding answer? Yes! And also: No!

What’s a girl to do? I decided to do both. When I feel inspired to write new stuff, I plow ahead in the rough draft. I’m not much of an outliner, not yet anyway, so I usually set my sights on a distant plot point and try to swim steadily toward it. When I’m feeling more analytical, I take a look at my first chapter, ripping it up, writing new stuff, taking notes, thinking about character. And you know, this method has been working really well for me. It satisfies both my need to create new stuff and to feel like I’m making progress toward a story that actually makes sense and that I wouldn’t be upset about the world seeing if I got run over by a bus.

I’ve also been steering clear of buses, just in case.

But of course, if there’s any advice to be given about writing, it’s that no one way works for everybody. And I’m always open to new ideas… so does anyone have new ideas to share? What writing/editing combo works for you in shorts or long stuff? How much has the advice of others worked for you?