Grandma Day Continues....

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Once again it is Grandma Day. My four year old grandson showed up at my door at 9:30 AM, with his mother in tow. His words of greeting were "You should have come to get me sooner Grandma!" I told him that I was up late last night working, and had just gotten up a few minutes before his arrival. He thought about this for a while, and then asked me what I was working on. I showed him the bracelet that I had finished the night before. He examined it for a few minutes, considered, then informed me "It's pretty Grandma, but you should have come to pick me up sooner!"

Well now that things were in 4 year old perspective, we settled into having fun. We built silly friend critters out of Knex blocks, with me explaining to him how to read the pattern sheet. Then we decided to make Chocolate Chip cookies. As we gathered ingredients from the cupboard, we discovered we were missing one key ingredient,.....chocolate chips! It was off to the store to remedy the situation.

My grandson is wheat/gluten intolerant. In his case, the wheat triggers an asthma like condition. His mom, a doctor who has gotten heavily interested in natural supplements and remedies, decided to try eliminating wheat from his diet. Magically, the symptoms disappeared. With wheat he has dark circles under his eyes, runny nose, raspy cough, and trouble breathing. Without wheat these symptoms disappear. He is now about 90-95% wheat free.

Consequently, Grandma has started experimenting with recipes for cookies and breakfast/dessert breads so he can have some treats too. One of the most successful has been the Chocolate Chip cookies. I found two commercially available wheat substitute flours at our local grocery, Publix. One is Pamela's Products: Baking & Pancake Mix , and the other is Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour . The first contains Xanthan Gum in the mix, which most Gluten Free sites will tell you is necessary to hold your baked goods together. This flour is primarily made from Rice products and also contains baking powder and baking soda. The second contains no Xanthan Gum and is made from Garbanzo Beans, potato starch, tapioca flour, and various other components.

I decided to try the Toll House recipe by simply substituting a mix of these two flours. This produced a very FLAT cookie that tasted great, but looked like someone had stepped on it! I went back to the Internet for research. There I found that baking soda and baking powder cause the cookies to spread. By substituting my gluten free flours, I was already adding the baking soda in the recipe. The other tidbit I came across was that items made with these flour substitutes are more fragile than regular flour items. It was suggested to use parchment paper on the cookie sheets.

Here is the recipe that I have developed. It is basically the Nestle Toll House recipe, substituting a mix of the flours, with a slight increase in quantity, and eliminating the baking soda. I also increase the vanilla flavoring to increase the flavor. I cover my cookie sheets with parchment paper, and let the sheets set for about two minutes when I take them out of the oven before I transfer the cookies to the counter to cool.

Toll House cookies--Gluten Free:
1 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Flour
1 1/2 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
1 tsp salt
2 sticks softened Butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12oz package Nestles Semi-Sweet Morsels
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Measure flours and salt into a small bowl and set aside. Combine butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowel with mixer on low to medium speed until mix is a consistent color. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add half of flour mix and blend on low. Add remainder of mix and blend again. Stir in bag of chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir to mix all together.

Drop by rounded teaspoon fulls onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes until golden brown. I normally bake mine for 10 minutes.

Remove tray from oven and set aside for about 2 minutes. Remove cookies to a counter covered with paper towels and allow to finish cooling.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

If your cookies seem too flat, increase the flour mix slightly next time you make them. I increase the Pamela's flour as it is the one with the Xanthan Gum.
You really can't tell the difference between these cookies and the original ones once they are baked. The raw batter tastes a little different, but it still is good. Once baked, I can't tell a difference, and have several family members rave about how good the cookies are.

I hope those of you with wheat allergies will find this recipe enjoyable. Now I just have to experiment with a loaf of bread so Emmi can have sandwiches. So far our loaves of bread have been less than enjoyable!

Beading Books I like

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I'd like to tell you about a couple of beading books that I have read and enjoyed. I have been beading for about four years now, and have learned most of the common off loom stitches. I'm getting a little tired of seeing the same things in the magazines and have decided I would like to try developing some of my own designs. I am really interested in 3D shapes, and find creating them with beads to be both challenging, intimidating, and fun. There are two books in particular that I have found to be useful.

1. Little Bead Boxes by Julia S. Pretl
This book is written for the individual who wants to create boxes, using Japanese cylinder beads. It covers a variety of shapes: square, triangular, hexagonal, pentagonal, and oblong variations. She covers various types of lids also, overhanging, flush edges, and recessed edges. The book has very good diagrams and clear, easy to understand verbage.
I'm not really interested in making boxes, but I am interested in making something like a closed cylinder that I can suspend from a beaded rope. I can use Julia's instructions to make a really tall, skinny hexagonal shape and close off the top. I could also follow the directions for making a box with a recessed edge and extend the new recessed edge into a longer smaller wall to build a multilevel shape.
Julia also covers reading a graphed design, and finishing with finials and legs. Graph paper is included in the back of the book for graphing your own designs.
Overall, I think this book is definitely worth the cost, $21.95 US list, and deserves a place on your book shelf if you are interested in beading 3D shapes.

2. Diane Fitzgerald's Shaped Beadwork; published by Lark Books;$24.95 US list: Diane Fitzgerald is a well respected master of the Beading field. She has compiled much of her research and knowledge for creating shapes out of beads into this book. I had the priviledge of receiving this information directly from Diane in a two day seminar. It was intense, informative, and fun! We started out by beading flat, 2D shapes and progressed to creating 3D shapes. The culmination was to bead a Trillium flower pendant. Diane has taken all of this information and compiled it, along with additional info, into this book.
She covers various shapes from the 2D perspective first; triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, oval teardrop, diamond, and rectangle. She then looks at these shapes, but leaves the centers unfilled. This helps you see how the shapes could be used for closure loops, frames, or bezels. From this you progress to 3D shapes. All of this is covered in an instructional format that includes lovely projects to practice on.
If you are looking for something new and different, please take a look at this book.