Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gluten Free Pie Crust

My dad has Celiac so I've learned to do a LOT of gluten free cooking over the last couple of years.  In fact, my sister and I have become quite adept at making GF recipes taste like the real thing - and that's the problem with most GF recipes and commercially available GF products: they taste like garbage!  And all those poor unfortunate gluten free folks out there have simply reconciled themselves to their fate of having a disease that forces them to have to accept horrible tasting, poor renditions of normal food that they used to eat.  So my sister and I have done gobs of trial and error experiments and have come up with some stuff that you'd never know is GF.  I'll include some here on my blog once in a while so others can finally know what it's like to eat decent tasting food again.

I had some crust bits left over after making a pie for Thanksgiving and made it into an apple pie type thingy that I made up as I went along.

 OK, these pictures were taken after I'd already eaten half of it.  It was so good!

So all of this is about a GF pie crust I made for Thanksgiving.  I had gone all over town trying to buy a GF pie crust, but everyone was out, so I knew I'd have to just make one from scratch.  I looked online and found a recipe from that sounded do-able and got to work.


I want to share the recipe I use for GF all-purpose flour mix.  The main problem with most GF flours at the store is that they're made from about a hundred different kinds of flours and other ingredients and preservatives.  And even the GF flour mix recipes that you find online or in most GF cookbooks still include a long list that is not only intimidating, but also VERY EXPENSIVE to put together.  Last year my folks were at a GF expo and met a gal who had published a GF cookbook of real live every day food that people actually eat in average homes across America (not all that frou-frou stuff that you find in most GF cookbooks, as if you get diagnosed with Celiac and immediately develop a fine taste for gourmet shi-shi food that takes two hours to prepare, rather than wanting to eat what you've been eating for all your life).  The gal's name is Christina Davis, and her book is called "Irresistibly Gluten Free: Simple Family Favorite Recipes".
Irresistibly Gluten Free by Christina Davis published by Brigham Distributing (2010) [Paperback]

She has developed the shortest recipe for the simplest GF flour I've ever heard of, which she calls "UNflour".  I also want to point out that every commercial GF flour is made of very heavy non-wheat flours, so no wonder your final result is a rock hard loaf of bread or concrete pancakes.  If you want your food to turn out light and fluffy, you have to use light and fluffy ingredients in your GF mix.  This is not rocket science (yet the commercial GF industry still hasn't figured this out, but I, a nobody housewife with no food industry experience, has.  Gee, funny that.)  So here's the mix and I want you to note that it does not use any of those expensive non-wheat flours, this is all very cheap):

For a small batch:
3 c. rice flour (I use brown)
2 1/2 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. tapioca flour

That's it!  No laundry list of ingredients.  And you can see that these ingredients are inherently light and fluffy - the cornstarch really helps keep it light - but more importantly, these do not have any strong flavor that will taint all your food (that's the hugest secret in GF cooking: NOT making everything taste like that nasty flour mix).  I buy my cornstarch for $1 per box at Walmart, and the two flours at my local health food store, Good Earth ($1.09/lb for brown rice flour, $1.25/lb for tapioca flour- at those prices you can afford to make a double or triple batch).  I put all my ingredients in my designated UNflour container and then put the lid on and just shake it to mix it.  It's way too simple, please try it yourself, you'll never go back.  Oh by the way, any time you're using GF flour, you must also add a small amount of xanthan gum to your recipe.  It's a binder and GF flours are usually made of things that don't really bind together, so you need xanthan gum, usually only about 1/2-1 tsp. per normal size batch of regular pastries like cookies, cakes, etc.  A batch of cookies might need 1 tsp, but a cake might only need 1/2 tsp.


So I found a recipe online which looked awfully similar to normal wheat flour-based pie crust, just with GF flour instead, and I made a few modifications to suit my needs.  However, the website's GF flour mix was long and involved and had ingredients that were heavy and would taint the flavor, so I just substituted my good ol' UNflour and away we went!  So here's my version of the recipe:

1/2 cup Crisco or unsalted butter, very cold
1 1/4 cup UNflour, plus more for rolling out
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2-4 Tbsp. ice cold water

Cut shortening into 1/2" pieces and freeze 15-30 minutes.  In a food processor combine UNflour, xanthan gum, salt, & sugar; pulse 5-6 times.  Add shortening and pulse 6-8 times (until it resembles coarse meal).  With processor running, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough just barely clumps together.  Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least one hour before rolling out.  Makes 1 crust.

My notes: I used butter the first time I did this, but I strongly suggest Crisco (no other brand!) because shortening really works better for making a pie crust stay together.  The biggest key to this recipe is to keep everything ICY COLD.  I made a double crust peach pie and both crusts mixed up really quickly and were in the fridge chilling in no time at all.

I can't believe this thing is gluten free, it tastes so good!!!!!!  I seriously am wondering if someone mixed some crack into my UNflour because I couldn't stop going back for more, it was so delicious it was addictive, and it was the CRUST that made it taste so good.  To me, UNflour tastes almost like regular wheat flour when baked up.  OK, I've blabbed long enough.  Bye.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


My friend Joanie has a great website, and she's doing a giveaway.  Have you seen those new 18" My Salon Dolls with real hair?  You can curl, crimp, wave, wash, and dry their hair.  These are great dolls and any little girls would love to have one.  Great Christmas idea too!  Plus you can earn multiple entries for liking it on Facebook, tweeting about it, blogging about it (like I'm doing).  So go to Joanie's blog post about the dolls and enter to win one for your little princess.  I'd kinda like one of these for myself.......

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Attack Of The Monster Bugs!!!!!!!

Just kidding.  There is no imminent attack against Earth (as far as I know.....).  I just wanted to share this cute little fella with y'all.  I just finished designing and making him, and now he's ready to be presented to the world. 

My knitting guild is focusing on a local children's hospital for our charity this year and they're having us make baby kimono wrap sweaters and wacky stuffed toys.  The wackier the better, we were told.  Ravelry has tons of great toy patterns in wild monster styles, but I made this one up off the top of my head because I'd had this idea that had been formulating for over a year and finally an opportunity came along to actually make it and create a pattern.

My kids have fallen in love with this little guy and I'm sure they'll be very sad when I turn it in to the charity rep at the guild meeting.  It seems like every time I come into the living room one of them has it under foot, or smashed next to them while they're watching TV, or sitting on their laps helping them play computer.

I'm also making it available for free on Ravelry for all of you who are on there. It will be simply titled "Monster Bug".  Look it up. Knit it up. Enjoy it.


Worsted weight yarn in 2 colors (Main Color & Contrast Color)
Scrap yarn for legs & antennae (can use scrap felt or scrap yarn for eyes & mouth)
Scrap novelty yarn (feather or eyelash for top of bug head)
Size US 7 (4.5mm) 24" circular needles & straight needles
Size US 6 (4mm) double point needles
Size G/ 4.25mm crochet hook
Stitch marker
Tapestry needle
One 12x12" pillow form (available at craft store or IKEA)

GAUGE: 3.5 sts/inch in stockinette for bug body
SIZE: approx 12x12"

With circular needles and MC, cast on 80 sts, place marker to mark beginning of round.
Row 1-4: Knit around
Row 5-9:Switch to CC and knit around
Row 10-14: Switch to MC and knit around
Continue working around, switching colors every 5 rows until 10" from beginning.  Join novelty yarn and hold double with worsted yarn and work 1" more. Break off novelty yarn, leaving worsted yarn for bind off.

Place 40 sts on one of the straight needles and the rem 40 sts on the other straight needle, then use one end of circ needle to do a 3-needle bind off.  Cut yarn leaving tail for weaving in.
Weave in all ends while inside out.  Then turn right side out and set aside while making face pieces.

You can use scrap felt or scrap yarn for making eyes and mouth.  Using felt pieces is easier and faster, but if you really want to make yarn pieces, here are the instructions:

SMALL EYE: With crochet hook, ch 4, join with sl st in first ch to make magic circle.
Round 1: Ch 1, 10 sc in loop.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc in same st, 2 sc in next st, [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] around, sl st in first st to join.
Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

You will use 2 colors for this eye.
With MC ch 4, join with sl st in first ch to make magic circle.
Rnd 1: Ch 1, 10 sc in loop, sl st in first st to join. Break off MC.
Rnd 2: Join CC, ch 1, sc in same st, 2 sc in next st, [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] around, sl st in first st to join.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next 2 st, hdc in next st, 2 dc in next st, 3 trc in next st, 2 dc in next st, hdc in next st, sc in next 3 st, hdc in last st, sl st in first st to join.  Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

Ch 21, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in next ch, 2 sc in next ch, [sc in next 2 ch, dec over next 2 ch by drawing up a loop in both ch, then yo and draw through all three st on hook, sc in next 2 ch,  2 sc in next ch] twice, sl st in last ch.  Fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

Place eyes and mouth in position as shown in picture and sew in place, weaving in ends as you finish each piece.

Stuff body with pillow form and sew up bottom edge.

With 2 dpn's and scrap yarn for legs, pick up 4 sts in a circle on side of bug body (2 st on each dpn). 
With a 3rd dpn, work in i-cord until 6" long.  Cut yarn and use tapestry needle to weave through all 4 st and then weave in end through the tube.  Tie knot about 1" from end of leg.

Begin next leg 2 stripes down from first leg, and begin third leg 2 stripes down from second leg.  Repeat on opposite side of body.

With 2 dpn's and scrap yarn color for antennae, pick up 4 st in a circle one inch from center of top of head along top seam line.
With a 3rd dpn, work i-cord until 2" from beg. Cut yarn and use tapestry needle to weave through all 4 st twice to fasten off, then weave in end through tube.
Repeat one inch from center on other side for other antennae.

Give to a deserving child to enjoy and cuddle!