Monthly Archives: February 2011

Vegan, Gluten Free Potato Bread

One of my favourite activities as a kid was making bread with either my mom or grannie. My siblings and I would take turns mixing ingredients and kneading the dough. In the summer, we’d make it out on the deck at the cottage and let it rise in the sun under a dish cloth.. The hardest part for me was waiting for the dough to rise and to not get caught snitching from the bottom of the rising bread dough!

I’m kind of sad that bread making is no longer such a family affair, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be any less enjoyable. Unfortunately, as many of you know, gluten free bread does its best to leach out any enjoyment in bread making as it has a tendency to like to turn into a brick, collapses in the middle or some other epic failure. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Of course not!) Out of all the GF bread I’ve tried to make over my life, the only success we’ve had was when Mr. Bean made me a loaf of bread using a recipe one of his coworkers gave me. In fact, it was so successful that it rose over the sides of the pan and was gushing out bread batter while it was cooking in the oven and then fell part way through baking. Despite its baking angst, the texture was fantastic and it was very tasty!

However, when I found out that this month’s gluten free challenge over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker was to bake a loaf of yeast bread, adventurous me wanted to try something that was different. I’m also not eating eggs, so that recipe was a no go anyways.

I found a recipe for potato bread in the Allergen-Free Bakers Handbook, but I haven’t been able to find any soy and dairy free shortening or rice milk powder in these parts and I wanted to make it refined sugar free, I had to improvise. I changed some of the ingredients to use materials I had on hand, including using a less starch heavy flour mixture. I also divided it up into two loaves as I didn’t want it to overflow like the previous time (but that turned out to be unnecessary – go figure). The bread was a bit dense, so I want to go back and readjust amounts of liquids and flours. It still tasted pretty good. Or at least it did to Mr. Bean and I. ūüôā

Vegan and Gluten Free Potato Bread (Version 1)

1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. quinoa flour
3/4 c. garfava bean flour
1 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1 tbsp. xathan gum
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/4 c. warm water (110 – 115F)
2 1/4 tsp. fast acting yeast
3 tbsp. + 2 tsp. honey or agave nectar
1 c. mashed potatoes
1 c. rice milk
2 tbsp. almond flour
4 tbsp. + 1 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg replacer (1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer and 2 tbsp rice milk)
1 1/2 tsp. salt

  1. Grease a 9 x 5″ pan with olive oil or line with parchment paper.
  2. Combine 1/4 c. warm water, yeast and 2 tsp. honey in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment. Whisk to combine and let yeast proof.
  3. Whisk together flours and xathan gum in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place mashed potatoes in a pot. Add rice milk, almond flour, 4 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. honey and salt and whisk together. Heat up until mixture is 110 – 120F.
  5. Add the egg replacer to yeast mixture and mix to combine.
  6. Add in potato mixture and beat on medium speed until combined, about one minute.
  7. Add in flour mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for about a minute to combine for each addition.
  8. Scrape dough onto a flour covered board. Liberally dust your hands with flour and shape dough into a rectangle about 1 1/2″ thick.
  9. Roll up rectangle, making sure there are no air pockets until the dough is all in a roll and pinch the seam shut.
  10. Fold the ends of the roll toward the seam so the loaf is about the length of the pan. Place in pan seam down.
  11. Use a pastry brush to brush on the remaining olive oil.
  12. Place a large dish full of water in your oven and heat the oven up to 150F. Turn it off.
  13. Cover the loaf with a clean dish towel and place in the oven to rise for about an hour or until it has about doubled in size.
  14. Turn the oven to 400F and let the loaf bake for 20 minutes.
  15. Then turn the oven down to 325F and let the loaf bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.
  16. Turn out from pan and let it cool down.
  17. Enjoy! It tastes great with jam or marmalade!

I’m looking forward to trying this bread again as making bread myself is much easier on the wallet than paying $6+ for a loaf at the store! Wish me luck!

Have you ever tried making bread? How did it turn out?

Recipe submitted to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesdays and Seasonal Sundays– go check them out as there’s always lots of tasty recipes!

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Field By Night

I REALLY enjoy taking photos at night – it seems that it’s my latest photography drug of choice (except for the cold and wind factor, but I do it anyways like any addict. haha) Our trip to Field was no exception.

I’m always so fascinated to see what artificial light can do to familiar objects like trees at night. They don’t look nearly as interesting during the day.

But what do I find even more impressive? How the moon lights objects at night.

I felt really blessed and like we had perfect timing as the moon was full and the sky perfectly clear both nights I went out to take photos. Do you know what full moon + snow on mountains equals? Absolute beauty:

As I was shooting down by the tracks on the first night, suddenly things started to get a lot brighter. It startled me as “how could things get any brighter? The moon is out and all the lights around here are already on!” Then it dawned on me: it’s a train!¬† (Sometimes I have brilliant moments like these.) Fortunately I was far enough away from the tracks for them to not have to blow the horn at me – I’m sure I would have been very popular in Field the next day.

Of course, as is custom in Field, the train stopped to switch drivers, effectively blocking my path back up to our cabin. I was disappointed for a moment as I was getting ridiculously cold, but any excuse to keep shooting pictures is a good one, so I considered it an opportunity. (Plus, I didn’t really fancy having to try climbing over the train cars where they couple as it would probably start moving the moment I step on and freak me out. Probably not the best thing when you’re carrying lots of photography equipment.)

My Foto Friday Submission for Shadows

I was really happy when it started moving again as I was getting bloody cold from the wind and the cold!

When the train had finally passed through – trains always seem so much longer when you’re waiting for them out in the cold – I happily made my way back up to our cabin.

It took me almost 1 1/2 hours to warm up again, but for pictures like these, I’d say its worth it!

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve seen at night?

The photo of the still train has been submitted to this week’s Foto Friday prompt of “Shadows.”

Household6Diva FotoFriday

Do you want to try taking pictures like these? It’s pretty simple as all you need is a tripod and your camera on manual. For most of the pictures, I used ISO 200 – 320, exposure time of 20 – 30 seconds and an aperture of f/7.1. They vary depending on how bright you want your subject to be and how much ambient light there is. If you have any questions about the shooting info of any of these photos, just let me know!

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Field By Day

I seem to have a habit of going back to places repeatedly for vacations – Vancouver Island for one and Field for another. I guess they both just have so many good memories attached that we want to go back and add more! As promised, here are some photos from our trip. (For larger images, click on the photo!)

The weather in Field was pretty much as good as it gets – cold and clear! We only had a bit of snow the first night – no worries for skiing as there was a good 3 – 4 feet of snow on the ground!

In our first day of skiing, we skied 17 km (~11 miles). I was so proud of Mr. Bean for doing this – he’s such a trooper!

The second day we skied 9 km (~6 miles) – all the way to Banff National Park in Alberta!

As you can tell, it was beautifully sunny for pretty much the entire time. I love, love, LOVE taking photos of snow with harsh sunlight as it makes things that much more interesting. (As I found out for my final presentation/slideshow in my scenic and wildlife photography course, snow when it’s cloudy just looks gloomy and boring.)

To get the star effect, use a very small aperture. The effect is created by the light refracting around the blades of the shutter.

Most of these photos were taken at f/12 or smaller apertures. (In case you’re interested most of the photos were shot on Aperture priority mode with ISO 200. You could even use ISO 100 as there is enough light between the sun and the light reflecting off the snow.)

Note that it is VERY important to make sure your lens and sensor are clean while taking photos into the sun. It saves you so much time in editing photos. Not that I have any experience with that or anything. *cough*

On one of my photography walks, I saw some elk. I’m so glad I had my creeper telephoto lens as I really didn’t want to get that close.

Hello Ms. Elk - thank you for looking at me!

Field is really quite a cute village. I love it (obviously). There’s something really special about buildings covered in clean snow – especially with a beautiful clear blue sky and mountains in the background, don’t you think?

I’m always incredibly impressed with the icicles on some of the buildings. I wish I could have captured it better, but the sun through the icicles was like light through a prism – mini rainbows everywhere!

No trip to Field is complete without trains – it’s the stop before the Spiral Tunnels, so pretty much every train stops here to either gas up or switch drivers.

Dad, this photo is for you.

Train tracks always make good subject matter – leading lines and all that. ūüôā

I found it interesting that pretty much the only really dirty snow was by the train tracks. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t salt the roads like there’s no tomorrow. Not that I know any city who does that, hey Calgary? The waiting for the chinook method of road clearing doesn’t work in Field.

Since I’m crazy, I (unsurprisingly) almost spent more time photographing at night than during the day. It’s weird because I almost enjoy taking photos more at night than during the day, despite it being below -20C (-4F) every night. I’ll be posting them soon enough!

Would you go outside when it’s below -20C to go take photos?

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Easy Kale Salad with Grapes, Cranberries and Pecans

Do you like kale? I’m really starting to, especially since it doesn’t appear to bother Mr. Bean too much and it’s something different from my usual leafy green spinach. I’ve made this salad a few times – the flavours really complement each other very well (sweet grapes + tangy dried cranberries + savoury pecans + slightly bitter kale + salt = delicious!) and it comes together in about 5 minutes. Easy and healthy – the best kind of salads!

Easy Kale Salad with Grapes, Cranberries and Pecans

1 small bunch of kale per person
Handful of grapes, sliced in half
1 – 2 tbsp. pecans per person
Dried Cranberries
Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt

  1. Wash kale and rip into bit-sized pieces off of stem and stick in a steamer or pot with a small amount of water at the bottom.
  2. Steam kale until it just turns bright green. Drain and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a frying pan until fragrant.
  4. Place kale in a bowl and top with grapes, dried cranberries and pecans.
  5. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  6. Enjoy by itself or with your favourite sandwich!

What is your favourite type of salad?

This recipe was submitted to Meatless Mondays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesdays,  Hearth and Soul Blog Hop and Seasonal Sundays.

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Of Emerald Lake and Avalanches

Emerald Lake - Click to Enlarge

We’re back! We had a really good trip in Field – thank you for all the good wishes. We got back safely and didn’t get in any avalanches (thankfully!) while skiing.

I mention avalanches as this year has been an incredible year for them in the Canadian Rockies given the amount of snow they have received in the past few months – including numerous fatalities. I’m really grateful that we didn’t have to use the avalanche safety gear we borrowed from my parents! If you’re planning on going skiing/snowmobiling/some activity in the mountains, PLEASE be safe, have the necessary gear and listen to the warnings given by the authorities! Then we all can avoid needless fatalities caused by adrenaline and stupidity.

In one of the video games Mr. Bean plays, the main characters get caught in an avalanche and are knocked out. One character saw this and went and got someone else to come rescue them. Once they became conscious, the saving character commented “Well, if it wasn’t for me, you’d still be eating snow!” to which I replied “No, they’d be dead!” (I have such a way with cunning retorts, don’t I?) I’m by no means an expert on avalanches, but I do know that if someone is caught in one, they have 3 – 5 minutes to be rescued and that once the avalanche has stopped moving, it sets up like concrete, which is incredibly difficult to move or shovel through, so you really can’t take your sweet time!

I bring all this up as there was an avalanche just over a week ago at one of the places we skied to – Emerald Lake. According to some reports, the avalanche caused the ice to break all the way to the bridge (the thing in front of the cabin on the right) and completely wiped out part of the ski trail around the lake. Thankfully this one was at night so no one was injured! When we arrived, this is what it looked like:

Click for Larger Photo

It’s pretty impressive as it wiped out all the trees on the way down – I guess you can’t expect anything less when the avalanche is going to the end of its run!

Now that I’ve said what I want to – go out, be safe, have fun and enjoy God’s beautiful creation! I’m getting off my soap box now. ūüėČ

I’ll have more pictures from our trip up later this week! I’m just REALLY happy with the photo I took of Emerald Lake – I almost want to make it into a postcard or something!

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this weekend?

If you’re interested in learning more about avalanches, you can take this online avalanche course.

This photo has been submitted to Give me your best shot, Photo Story Friday and Skywatch Fridays.

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

 

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