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Back to Nature

I really am getting pushed back to the old fashioned way of doing things. I received a recall notice from Maytag telling me to discontinue using my year-old dishwasher because it was a fire hazard. They offered me the option of a free repair or a $150-$250 rebate on a new model. I chose the free repair and then gasped when the Maytag representative booked the repair for a week down the road. The gasp turned to panic when the repairman phoned me the day before he was due to come to my house to say that the parts he needed were on backorder and wouldn't be arriving for another month! Not even a phone call from my husband would budge Maytag. We are looking at hand-washing for a minimum of 5 weeks. In the spirit of returning to the simple life I attempted to make gluten-free hamburger buns yesterday. My local health food store used to sell outstanding gluten-free bread, hamburger buns, hotdog buns and pizza crusts that they imported weekly from a small bakery in New Westminster (about a 30 minute drive away). Two of our children have a moderate allergy to gluten and wheat. After living with rice bread that is remarkably similar to cardboard for more than a year, this bread, which was miraculously also egg-free (and their egg allergy is much more severe), was like manna from heaven, with the exception that our children never tired of it. Our oldest daughter said she felt guilty eating it because it tasted so good that it had to be bad. One day as I waltzed into the store for my weekly pick-up I was informed said store was no longer permitted to sell it. Health Canada stepped in and confiscated the bread with no advance warning because there was no nutrition label on it! The veteran New Westminster baker is still allowed to sell it in his bakery, but the health food store, which had a list of ingredients available for all customers, cannot. Livid, because this is the second instance the Canadian Government has sought to meddle in my food choices (more about that in a future blog), I called the health inspector. The one who had made the seizure wasn't available and his colleague conveniently knew nothing about it. I pointed out to the polite gentleman whose salary I pay through my taxes that it was bread – it's carbs!!!! – Why do we need a nutrition label? - All to no avail. The government prefers that I drive my giant carbon footprint 80 kilometres round trip each week, rather than 14 combined with other errands I have to run in the neighbourhood. So, in the spirit of nurturing the environment along with my family, I have now made 2 attempts at gluten-free hamburger buns. The first consisted of a rather runny batter that you pour into ring molds on a cookie sheet. I had none so poured poured my batter into an adorable ceramic heart-shaped muffin tin (which of course isn't tin because I am trying to replace all of my kitchen-ware that contains aluminum or was made in China) from Value Village, our youngest daughter's favourite store, and 2 spare equally adorable Le Creuset mini-ramekins from Winners. They turned out to be far too small and oddly-shaped to properly hold hamburgers but the family humoured me. Yesterday I tried the more traditional version, using the recipe below. They turned out okay, barring the fact that they didn't rise properly, due to the fact that: a) the yeast I used had an expiry date of August 2009 (but I am giving it a chance in order not to be wasteful) or b) the yeast I used was the traditional kind (I have no idea really, I bought it at an organic farm market and it just reads yeast) and the recipe called for instant. Ingredients Dry:

  • 3 c gluten-free flour mix

  • 1 Tb. instant yeast

  • 2 tsp. Powdered pectin

  • 1 Tb. xanthan gum

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 2 tsp. brown sugar


  • 1 – 1 1/4 c. warm water

  • 6 tsp egg replacer plus 8 tbsp warm water

  • 1/4 c. olive oil

  • 1 tsp. vinegar


Mix the wet ingredients together in the bowl of your mixer. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Add more water if it is too dry. The dough should be very soft and sticky. Form into balls and press down with olive oiled hands or flat bottomed drinking vessel. Let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes ( I left it much longer in the vain hope that it actually would). Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The top should be nicely browned. I had to try one with my grilled bison burger (one of the gluten-allergy kids also has a beef allergy), resulting in a one pound weight-gain this morning (more on that in a future blog). It was actually quite delicious, either because I usually eat my burgers encased in lettuce, or because I seasoned the meat with pepper, organic oregano, and what I had left of a spice-rub in the fridge and our oldest daughter raved about it, or because I poured a whole lotta' love into hand-crafting something for my family, or most likely, a little of each. I am quite anxious to try again with the proper yeast and am begrudgingly blessing the bureaucrat who took away the best gluten-free bread I have ever tasted in my life, because I am possibly saving money (more on that in a future blog), and discovering a whole new way to nurture my family, and consequently, myself.

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