22 April 2018

The Not-So-Obvious Stuggles

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to head up the Spring book fair at my son's elementary school.  It was a serious blessing that I didn't have to run the thing alone because, as it was, I felt like I was run off my feet.  From 8:00 in the morning until nearly 5:00 in the evening I was at that school, freezing my tush off in the gym, and helping people buy books on inefficient registers.  It was fun, because I love books and love talking to people who love books, but I'm telling you, I felt like a dead and beaten horse at the end of every day.

To add a little touch of aggravation, our washer died.  Completely and unexpectedly.  So, I've been trekking to the laundromat for about a month and a half, once a week.  During the book fair, my husband came to the laundromat with me, and we didn't finish with the clothing until midnight.

The next night we went and bought a new washer. *snort* Nothing like lighting a fire under the right bottom.

Twice that week I woke up in tears because I didn't think I could handle another day.

It was also a very busy weekend following the book fair.  So, no rest for the weary.

When I finally had a normal week in front of me, I crashed.  My children were at school and I tried to get things done and be a productive, normal, individual, but it didn't quite work out that way.  I spent a lot of time sitting and lying down. I didn't even have the energy to write. After three days of struggling to be normal, I gave in to what my body wanted to do anyway, and slept for fifteen hours straight.  I was groggy for a few hours afterward, but then I actually did feel normal, instead of just trying to be.

I tell you this whole saga of my busy week, and the ensuing crash, not because I want sympathy or anything similar to it.  It's just life.  Everyone has something they struggle with, and I felt like I needed to share what I struggle with, since it isn't obvious to most people.

I was talking to my sister-in-law yesterday and she and I thought it would be great if anything that was wrong with you physically showed up on the outside.  You could look at someone and immediately know.  Oh! They have the stomach flu.  Or, That back pain isn't getting any better.  Or, They have the same stuff I do!  But because we're all able, to varying degrees, to disguise our ailments, most people have no idea we have ailments at all.

I have ailments.  I ail.  Just like each of you.  Let's not be afraid to share those ailments with each other, because through our sharing we become stronger, more honest with ourselves and others, and more able to cope with the things we struggle with.

07 April 2018

Free Your Cornbread

If you're looking for some witty life lesson or book recommendation or a controversial opinion, I'm sorry to disappoint on this occasion. But if you try either of the following recipes, you'll love them.

I am a baker.  I love the challenge of seeing a recipe and knowing I could make it.  I love the idea of only using ingredients I know the names of (nothing of the four syllable variety).  It's cheaper than going to a bakery. There is nothing quite like making something for the people you love and having them lick their lips and look for more.  And the last couple of years, there is also the challenge of taking a recipe that isn't gluten, sugar, or dairy free and making it so.

(Please note that I did not make the cornbread in the picture I used.  I can make things taste good, but it rarely looks good.  Making things pretty is not a talent of mine.)

The latest recipe I've "freed" is cornbread.  Trust me when I say that the cornbread I've always made is more like cake than bread.  It's sweet (sorry to all you Southerners who prefer it savory) and moist and lovely.

Here's the original recipe as it was given to me by my friend Sarah:

Mormon Cookbook Cornbread
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 C. cornmeal
1 1/2 C. flour
2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
1 1/2 C. milk
** Cream butter and sugar, add eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and milk. Whisk or beat until smooth.  Place in greased 8X8 inch pan.  Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick come out clean.

It's a simple recipe.  This is how I changed it.

1/4 C. coconut oil (You can taste a hint of coconut in the finished product and it's lovely.)
1/4 C. applesauce
1/2 C. honey/agave (or less)
2 eggs
1 C. cornmeal (not masa flour.  It's different, as I learned the hard way.)
1 1/2 C. GF flour blend (I've been using the blend from America's Test Kitchen and substituting millet flour for the white rice flour.  It works well.)
2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
1/2 tea xantham gum (only three syllables, so it's allowed.)
1 1/2 C. soy/almond/rice milk

The method is the same as before, but the batter is slightly runnier.  It may take a minute or two longer to bake.  Trust your toothpick.

I've experimented with flavoring it as well.  Try adding 1/2 tea. of nutmeg or cinnamon.  Or add blueberries or other fresh fruit. Using maple syrup to sweeten and flavor makes for a delicious deviation. For those who prefer savory, try decreasing the amount of honey/agave and add chili powder, cumin, or rosemary.  Although, the rosemary would taste great in sweet or savory.

If you're looking for a delightful variation for breakfast, break up leftover cornbread and pour milk (or your milk substitute) over it. Mmm.  For an upcoming dinner at the Ellsworth home, I'm going to use leftover chili I made, put cornbread overtop and bake it in my own version of tamale pie.

Basically, make it however you want. Go crazy.  That's a baker's right.

Maybe that's why I like baking.