May’s Freebie Winner! Really?

We’ll never be able to say that it doesn’t pay to try, try and try again.  Let’s meet (again) the latest winner of my First Friday Freebie –

Donna from Bunceton, Missouri!

I would like to start out by saying (“scout’s honor” if I had been any sort of scout, but I wasn’t, so you’ll have to take me at my word) that this monthly drawing is not rigged.  Perhaps you’ve noticed that Donna has now won the First Friday Freebie three times.  Perhaps you didn’t notice, and in that case, I’m sorry I brought the whole thing up.

The other thing that maybe some of you know and many of you don’t is that Donna is also my sister!  There is nothing in the rules that says that my relatives can’t enter to win, but this is getting ridiculous!  No matter how I adjust my poker face, or display the backs of the little slips of paper with entries written on them, Smuffy’s hand just randomly snatches Donna’s name out every so often as though by some magnetic force.

Anyway, congratulations, Donna!

 I hope you enjoy your set of handcrafted, up-cycled, sparkly gift bags and I hope they bring joy to whomever you bless when you give them away with gifts inside.

The gift bags were an art project of mine.  If you’d like to see how I take store merchandizing bags and turn them into beautiful gift bags, click here.  To see the original freebie offer, click here.

To all my readers, I’d like you to climb on board the “Stop Donna Express”!  I can only think of one way to stop my sister from becoming like one of those Jeopardy contestants who just can’t seem to go home and that is if YOU lower her odds by entering to win and share Midwest Storyteller with all your friends via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest (or be old fashioned about it and tell them to subscribe so they’ll be able do the same.  Subscribers receive an email on the first Friday each month reminding them to leave a comment that will enter their name in the drawing.

A freebie offer appears the first Friday of every month.  Check out my Freebies page to see the winner and their free gifts they’ve won here at Midwest Storyteller.

 June’s drawing is right around the corner – June 7th, to be exact.  Donna is bound to enter, but the question is, will you?

Pancakes and Pizza Dough? Gluten-free Sourdough Recipes that Won’t Disappoint

If you’ve started a batch of my Authentic Sourdough Just Like Great-Grandma Used to Make, you’re probably making my yummy recipe for Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread that Doesn’t Taste Like Cardboard Rolled in Sand.  Perhaps, though, you’re starting to yearn for other sourdough goodies. 

I’m offering you two today with FREE printables!  (I always aim to please.)

Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes and Pizza Dough www.midweststoryteller.com

The journey toward a good gluten-free pancake has been a frustrating one.  When I started my clean eating journey, I couldn’t help but think that all those poor dears out there in cyber-land who posted their recipes on the internet for the rest of us were living in a state of such desperate deprivation they no longer knew what a pancake was!  If it held to a disc shape and supported a pat of butter and a drizzle of syrup, they thought they had something.

In the beginning, I ate no grains at all for three months to give my system a total rest.

I started with coconut flour pancakes.  The best coconut flour version I found after much trial and error were made from a recipe by Dr. Bruce Fife in a wonderful book called, “The Coconut-Ketogenic Diet”.  I’ve poured over that book and made many of the recipes and contacted Dr. Fife and received permission to share short quotes and recipes here on the blog.  We’ll save that for another day as we are on the subject of sourdough.  I mean no disrespect to Dr. Fife when I say (while I linger upon this tangent for a few more seconds) that this is a really bad title for a really great book!  It should be called something like, “A Manual for the Human Body and a Bunch of Stuff About Coconuts I Betcha Didn’t Know”.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself even if you never follow his weight loss plan . (I didn’t.) You’ll find it right here on Amazon.

Now, let’s take that sourdough starter and make some real pancakes.  As always, I tinker with recipes until I feel like they are worthy of passing on to you.  This one began with a recipe I found at www.artofgluten-freebaking.com  I’ll be going back to that site for more ideas now that these pancakes are such a hit with Smuffy.  He says they’re the best pancakes I’ve ever made for him.  The original recipe made lots more pancakes, so feel free to double my recipe if you have a large family.  I changed a few other things as well as using the Gluten-Free Flour Blend I shared here on the blog.

Another aggravating situation one finds oneself in when walking away from most grains is the agony of the unfulfilled pizza craving.  Yes, I know all those people out there are mushing cauliflower together and calling it pizza crust, but sometimes you just want real pizza – pizza you can pick up in your hands and bite into its crispy crust instead of forking it.

Again, I found a recipe and started tweaking.  This great version of Gluten-free Sourdough Pizza Dough, originally given by Emily at www.fermentingforfoodies.com got me off to a great start.  With a few changes to align it with my commitment to clean eating, I’m really pleased to be enjoying pizza again.

Pizza and Pancakes – isn’t life grand?  Let’s get that sourdough out of the refrigerator and let it poof up on the counter for a couple of hours and get started!

Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes www.midweststoryteller.com

Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes or Waffles

Ingredients:

1 cup Authentic Rye Sourdough Starter

¾ to 1 cup milk (depending on how thick/thin you like your pancakes)

1 cup Gluten-free Flour Blend, divided

½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder

1 tablespoon raw honey

1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted and cooled

1 extra-large egg, beaten

Instructions:

  1.  The night before (or at least 2 hours before) make a “sponge” by mixing the sourdough starter, ¾ cup milk and half the flour in a large bowl, stirring until combined.  The mixture may have lumps and that’s fine.
  2. When you are ready to make pancakes or waffles, preheat the griddle to medium-high or heat the iron.
  3. Mix the remaining flour, salt, soda, and baking powder together in a bowl and stir.  Add to the sponge, along with the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended, adding more milk if needed.
  4. For pancakes, oil the surface of the griddle with coconut oil and pour 1/3 cup portions of batter onto the surface, cooking until edges appear dry and bubbles form over the surface.  Flip and cook for an additional minute.
  5. For waffles:  Grease the iron with oil before making each waffle.  Follow your iron’s directions, which likely require a cup of batter and five minutes cooking time for deep pocket waffles. 

YIELD:  8 or 9 pancakes.

I’ve actually not made these up into waffles yet, so I can’t testify as to how they turn out.

Now that we’ve had a fabulous breakfast, let’s move on to pizza!

Gluten-free Sourdough Pizza Dough www.midweststoryteller.com

Gluten-free Sourdough Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

1 cup Authentic Rye Sourdough Starter

1 ½ cups Gluten-free Flour Blend

1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon raw honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

1 Italian herb blend

Instructions: 

  1.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  You want a fairly firm dough, so you may have to add a bit more flour depending on the feel.
  2. Allow to rest, covered, in a warm place for 2-4 hours.
  3. Divide into two balls and roll out onto parchment paper.  Crusts will be very thin.  If you prefer a thicker crust, you may not want to divide the dough.  If you like thin crust, but don’t want to bake them both at once, wrap one of the dough balls in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap to freeze until needed.  Thaw overnight or for several hours prior to rolling out for baking.
  4. Pre-bake the crusts in pre-heated 425° Fahrenheit (or 200° Celsius) oven for ten minutes by placing the parchment directly on the oven racks or on a preheated pizza stone, whichever way gives you the crispness you desire.
  5. Remove crusts from the oven and top with your favorite ingredients.  Return the pizza to the oven and take an additional ten minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is beginning to brown.

When it comes to pizza, Smuffy is in love with the pizza sauce I make it with my homemade tomato paste from the tomatoes in our garden.  Did I mention that Smuffy is the local Tomato King?  At least he was last year!  Take at look at his tomato patch.  It actually got quite a bit bigger than this!

2018 Tomato King www.midweststoryteller.com

You must know, however, that while tomato paste is as easy as putting the little darlings in the food processor, making a puree and then simmering them on the stove until they are as thick as the paste you buy in the store, there is a down side.  It takes a good long while.  San Marzano paste tomatoes are ideal, as they have little juice and speed things up a bit, but still, you’ll need to do it when you are going to be around the house for a while.  Also, I’ve found that two pounds of tomatoes yields 1 cup of paste – so there’s that to consider.

Once I’ve slathered my pre-baked crust with ½ to ¾ cup of pizza sauce, I love to go crazy with the veggies.  I mound the pizza high with fresh spinach (but only my half as Smuffy doesn’t care for it) and then follow with thin-sliced onions, green pepper, sliced mushrooms, turkey pepperoni and six ounces of shredded mozzarella. 

We prefer turkey pepperoni as it tastes the same to us, yet doesn’t leave a giant grease puddle under each slice.  Use anything you like.  Here’s one I made with chicken.

Sourdough Crust Pizza www.midweststoryteller.com

If you’ve been looking for gluten-free options for pancakes and pizza, I think your family will really like these recipes.  Please comment and let me know!  Happy cooking!

Sourdough & Gluten-free Pancakes & Pizza Dough www.midweststoryteller.com

Now it’s time to get those FREE PRINTABLE RECIPES HERE.

Soon I’ll be sharing a faux-carb pizza dough along with my recipe for home-made pizza sauce with no sugar or artificial sweeteners. (Try to find that in the stores!)

What’s all the fuss about eating healthy?  We shouldn’t just survive, we should thrive!  Check out my Thrive! page

There’s still that Smuffy story brewing and I think Phoebe June has some thoughts on spring she’d like to share, so stay with us!

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE, so you’ll receive an email reminder each time Midwest Storyteller has something new.

Hi, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!  www.midweststoryteller.com

This day and this wish carry so many emotions and not just my own. As I look at social media, I realize, as I do every year, that, good or bad, we are all connected to our mothers by an unbreakable bond.

I hope that each one of you had a mother as wonderful as mine. That would make the world a better place! If your mother was less than perfect in ways that affected you negatively, I pray you have found the strength to forgive her and allow healing to take place.

If you’re glorying in your children today, I take joy with you. My daughter took me for an outing to the city where we ate, shopped, laughed, talked and simply enjoyed one another till we had to come home and I treasure each moment of it.

If you’re missing your mom, as I am mine, I pray that the sweet memories are a comfort and that you’ve come to the certainty that you will be with her again someday.

I know there are some of you who have lost a baby and perhaps no one even knows. Others have lost a young child or an adult child. The unspeakable grief is more than I can imagine. Along with the God who holds them in His loving arms, I cry with you and say, “He loves you.”

To all the adoptive moms, I jump for joy along with you that the day came when you could call that child your own, just as I have done with the several moms in our family who have adopted children into their hearts and homes!

To those who still wait, longing to conceive to adopt, I pray, “Let it be, O Lord! Let it be!”

There are those of us who, though we have not given birth or gone through legal proceedings, have chosen to mother or be mothered by someone other than our birth mother. The bonds shared may as well be ties of blood, for they are just as strong.

Some nurture babies with fur and paws with as much compassion and emotion as if their charge were a human child and this is love.

Let’s reach out today and and wish one another a Happy Mother’s Day! After all, we share in common a child-shaped spot in our heart that is filled only with the love for a mother or the love of a mother.

To meet the special lady who was my mom, click here.

You “May” Win a Freebie (but only if you try)!

Here we are again at the first Friday of the month.  I hope you’ve told all your friends about First Friday Freebies so they can enter to win today’s drawing.

Sometimes, when I’m on a creative binge, I like to give away my latest creations.  Remember the sparkly, repurposed gift bags I crafted out of shopping bags?

Handcrafted Gift Bags www.midweststoryteller.com

Today I’m giving away this set of three gift bags with coordinating tissues.  The winner will receive “Congrats”, “Best Wishes” and “Happy Birthday” bags with die-cut designs and jeweled embellishments. 

I hope you enjoy my handiwork and are encouraged to try some similar rescue/recycle projects of your own.  If you have any creative ideas for the “accumulated treasures” we all seem to have around the house, I’d love it if you’d share your ideas in the comments and please feel free to send any photos of your creations you’d like to share with me to barb@midweststoryteller.com

If you’d like to see how I made the bags and get ideas on how you can do similar projects on your own or with the kids (and whether or not you have a die cutting machine), check out my post here.

To enter to win the gift bag set, all you need to do is “Leave a Comment” on this post, saying, “Draw my name from the bag!”  You’ll need to do that before midnight TONIGHT, May 3rd, 2019!

First Friday Freebies are for email SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.  You can subscribe by going to the right sidebar or use the menu to navigate to the “Contact” page and subscribe to Midwest Storyteller if you haven’t done so already.  Confirming your subscription through the confirmation email you’ll receive is absolutely necessary, so don’t forget that!

Your friends will want to enter to win, too.  Share this post with them through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  They won’t know if you don’t tell them!

Subscribers win every single month!  See past gifts and their winners on my “Freebies” page.

Remember, a winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight tonight by leaving a comment which says, “Draw my name from the bag!”

For the complete First Friday Freebie rules, CLICK HERE

Glitches happen.  If you subscribe and do not receive a confirmation email for some reason, please email me and let me know at barb@midweststoryteller.com

Freebies only last a day!  Enter now so you don’t forget!

Re-Purposed Gift Bags on the Cheap!

I’ve figured out why they call it “The Merry, Merry Month of May”.  If ever a month came pre-loaded with celebrations, May wins the prize!

There’s the given – graduations.  They rarely come in singles.  There always seems to be a wedding or two, not to mention showers in anticipation of the weddings in June.  Mother’s Day comes along and since a portion of those mothers became one in May, there are birthdays and the parties that go with them.

Do you ever feel like you’re spending more on gift wrap than gifts?  I’m definitely a rescuer and a saver, but I don’t want to go down in history as the lady who left this earth having owned the most cottage cheese containers.  I want a purpose or a re-purpose for my stash.  I want to do something with my frugal hoard and part of that hoard is merchandizing bags from stores that I just know I can turn into beautiful gift bags.

Today, I want to share a money saving idea you can pull off without losing your mind.  All you need is store bags (hopefully ones that do not have wrap-around logos printed on them), scissors, ruler, glue and your “stash” – whatever that means to you – and possibly some kids or grandkids if you really want to have some fun and you are one of those people who is at peace with the concept that it’s the process that counts – not the product.

Re-purposing Bags for Gifting  www.midweststoryteller.com

Here’s part of my stash, including the gift bag project in mid-progress.  I have a Cricut die-cutting machine.  Believe it or not, I even got that at the Goodwill Store!  Don’t tuck your tail between your legs if you don’t have a fancy machine.  I’ll give you some ideas for working without one.

I find that Dollar Tree and Tuesday Morning are great sources for finding doo-dads on the cheap.  A full sheet of sparkly jeweled stickers for around a dollar will last you through many a creative binge.  I do some scrapbooking, so I always have leftover snippets and papers to cut up for projects.  You can often pick up a book of coordinating papers at Hobby Lobby at half price, but if you don’t want to do that, scrounge around for some cardstock, old wallpaper or wrapping paper that isn’t too thin.  Kids love working with thin, colorful sheets of fun foam, available at Hobby Lobbyand they can cut out flowers, leaves, trucks, letters and numbers and anything else they have a notion to draw or trace onto the foam.  Dollar stores also have full sheets of themed embellishments for scrap-bookers.  All you have to do with those is cover the bag’s logo with a shape you’ve cut from foam or paper and stick the embellishments all over it and your once-a-throw-away bag is redeemed.  How about the fronts of those fancy greeting cards you’ve been given?  There’s some fabulous artwork you can use to decorate your bags!

If the bag rescue idea appeals to you, but you want to avoid the expense of a Cricut or other machine, there are some fun tools to watch for when you’re out bargain hunting.  Decorative scissors are inexpensive and will trim the edges of your papers into scallops, ocean waves or a number of other designs.  They are usually around five dollars.  Punches are fabulous things.  You can align paper along a printed guide, punch the design and slide the paper again to punch long strips or all the way around a shape.  They come in geometrics, florals, eyelet and lace designs and more. I’ve found them at Tuesday Morning at prices between three and ten dollars, depending on the size.  Martha Stewart makes quality punches in varied styles. Visit the link to see what is available and then watch for sales in stores that carry office and craft items. Metallic pens come in a wide array of colors and can be used to add sparkle to the edges of cut paper.  If you have no fancy scissors or tools, why not tear the edges of your paper by hand?  Once you’ve given it a jagged edge, use the metallic pens to highlight the torn edges and make them pop against the background.  Backgrounds are important.  A layered effect always makes an embellishment project look much more professional.

Since I do have a Cricut machine (and they are marvels, to be sure), I used leftover scrapbooking paper to cut designs that I felt would be useful for any upcoming gifting needs.  As you can see, I just glued the design onto its contrasting background and then glued the whole thing right over the original business logo.

Next, I used a few cheap stickers from my sparkly jewel collection to add some pizzazz to the design.  You certainly don’t have to do this, but even just a few tiny embellishments will take your design to the next level and give it a designer flair rather than just a look’s-like-she-couldn’t-find-a-gift-bag-but-she-could-find-a-gluestick-project.

Here are the bags, before and after being be-jeweled.  Little things mean a lot, don’t they? Zoom in for the thrill of the sparkle.

Gift Bags Bejeweled www.midweststoryteller.com

Speaking of glue, I highly recommend Martha Stewart craft glue as seen here.  It dries clear, doesn’t string, gives you thirty seconds or so for wiggling items into place and then the items stay put!  If I run out of it, I will put off a project until I can get some because of the frustration it saves me.

Once you’re finished, the bags are ready for colorful tissue and maybe even a cute tag or a ribbon tied onto the handle if you want to get that fancy.

Shopping Bags Transformed www.midweststoryteller.com

Here are my finished bags.  Now for the rest of the stack I have saved up in the closet. Call me cheap, but my mama would be proud!

I do love a rescue project and handmade gifts and this combines the two.  Need more ideas?  Take a look at the wooden utensil project I did with my friend Kathy here, the falling-off-a-log-easy gifts here, rescued vintage tablecloths here, Sweet Annie wreaths here, and what to do with those pretty leaves you can’t resist picking up here.  After all that, you’ll need to treat yourself.  Relax with some homemade sugar scrub here.

Any questions?  I’d love to hear your comments.  Is there anything you’ve repurposed that the rest of us are throwing away? 

Announcing April’s Freebie Winner!

I’m excited to meet the latest winner of my First Friday Freebie and to introduce you to –

Margie from Farmington, West Virginia!

I’ve seen Margie’s name pop up in the entries before and this time her persistence paid off when she won the floral metal art wall hook from Hobby Lobby.

Congratulations, Margie!  I hope it finds a great place in your home to add a little cheer.

If you’d like to see the original freebie offer, click here.

A freebie offer appears the first Friday of every month.  Check out my Freebies page to see the winner and their free gifts they’ve won here at Midwest Storyteller.

Subscribe now and you’ll be notified via email of May’s drawing.  You never know what I might be giving away. 

The next First Friday Freebie drawing will be on Friday, May 3, 2019 and only SUBSCRIBERS can win!

A winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight on the day of the drawing by leaving a comment as instructed in the post.  See the recently revised rules below.

Be sure to take a moment make yourself familiar with the Freebie Rules by clicking HERE.

These four simple steps will have you ready to enter to win on May 3rd.

“Share”, “like” and “pin”  this post!  You’re friends will want to know about First Friday Freebies, too!

Enjoying the Freebies?  Leave a comment!  If you’re on your computer, scroll back up under the title of this post and let me know what you’re thinking.  On various devices, you may find “Leave a Comment” at the bottom of the post.

I think I feel a Smuffy story coming on!  One of those might be wonderful with some Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes.  Now, which one to do first…

Bringing on Spring with a Freebie!

April showers, as the old saying goes, bring May flowers, and I’m offering you an early bouquet with this flowery First Friday Freebie!

This metal art wall hook from Hobby Lobby is just the thing to set the tone for warmer weather in your home.  Subtle shades of pinks and yellows, along with green leaves give this rustic hook a bit of “happy”.  It’ll be the perfect place to hang a fun tote bag, basket, scarf, or serve as a catcher for that jacket you can’t wait to stop wearing.  It measures 12 inches tall and 8 ½ inches wide.

I do love a great Hobby Lobby find and this one is cute, cute, cute!

To enter to win the flowery wall hook, all you need to do is “Leave a Comment” on this post, saying, “Bring on the spring thing!”  You’ll need to do that before midnight TONIGHT, April 5th, 2019!

First Friday Freebies happen every month for email SUBSCRIBERS ONLY, so hop on over to the right sidebar or use the menu to navigate to the “Contact” page and subscribe to Midwest Storyteller if you haven’t done so already.

Share this post with all your friends and family through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest so they can enter to win, too!

Subscribers win every single month!  My “Freebies” page has past freebies.  Take a look at all the free gifts and the wonderful people who’ve been winning them.

Remember, a winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight tonight by leaving a comment which says, “Bring on the spring thing!”

For the complete First Friday Freebie rules, CLICK HERE

Subscribing is simple and FREE, but don’t forget to go immediately to your email to confirm your subscription or it will not go through.  If you do not receive a confirmation email for some reason, please email me and let me know at barb@midweststoryteller.com

The clock is ticking!  Enter now so you don’t forget to do that before midnight tonight!

I hope we all get to enjoy many more glorious spring days! Phoebe June and I spent some time outside working and playing before this last round of rain.  Would you care to guess which one of us worked and which one of us played?  She’s enjoying spring as much as I am, except for being irritated at her humans for not spending entire days outside with her.  She lets us know, loud and clear, what she thinks of our disobedience.  Sometimes it’s just a mere glance, but even that is enough to convey the message in her eyes as, “You nitwit!” She shares her opinions on my Phoebe June page.

Thoughts?  Questions?  I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment.

Gluten-free Sourdough Bread That Doesn’t Taste Like Cardboard Rolled in Sand

Soft Sourdough Bread  midweststoryteller.com

Is there a bowl of sourdough starter sitting on your counter waiting to be turned into baked yummy-ness?

If you missed my recent post, Authentic Sourdough Just Like Great-Grandma Used to Make, or if you just haven’t had time to start your starter, you’ll want to save this recipe and give this wonderful bread a try.  If your starter is ready to go, you can make this bread today.

There’s no kneading involved and only a short rising time.  It’s all done in the mixer so you can overcome your fears of making homemade bread.

A friend of mine, after tasting my bread a few times, really wanted to try this herself so I recently walked her through the process via phone and text.  The result is this beautiful loaf!

Gluten-free Sourdough Bread Loaf midweststoryteller.com

Her husband loved it and now they are enjoying bread while pursuing one of their health goals – getting inflammatory foods out of their diet and enjoying better gut health.

When I touch on the topic of health, I always like to remind you of this: I am not your doctor! While there is no gluten in this bread flour, there is rye flour in the starter offered at the link above. It is my understanding that the sourdough process breaks down the gluten in the rye flour, making it null and void, so to speak. However, if you have celiac disease, you will want to consult your doctor before using the rye starter.

If you’ve tried to go the gluten-free route at all, I’m sure you identify with the title of this post.  You’d think that restaurants and the folks who bake things to be sold in stores would be the experts, wouldn’t you?  Yet, every single time, the menu item or the store-bought loaf always seem to have the same common problem – utter and complete nasty-ness!  Dry as a bone, its tasteless particles, if they can be broken, shatter into dust upon contact with the teeth or knife.  The result:  Repulsion and fear.

Why do I mention fear?  It’s only human nature to think that if the experts can’t do any better than this, anything we try at home on our own is bound to end in disaster.  Surely they know all the secrets to a moist, chewy, tasty slice of bread!  We’re afraid of failure.

Fear no more!  Let’s bake bread that is so tasty that your biggest problem will be waiting to slice it till it’s completely cool.

First, let’s mix up some gluten-free flour blend.  I suppose you can use a premixed type found in most stores, but this is cheaper and so simple, so why would you do that?  Also, using this mix will ensure that there are no added weird ingredients and that the recipe turns out just the way I’ve been making it.  If you want to veer from the path, do it later on after you’ve mastered the recipe.

I’ll give tips and tricks as I go, and at the bottom of this post you’ll be directed to FREE printables for the flour blend and the bread.

I like to give credit where credit is due, so I offer a huge thanks to Jill Nystul over at “One Good Thing by Jillie” for getting me started on making my own flour blend.  Mine differs from hers in a couple of ways, because I’ve removed white potatoes and corn products from most of my recipes, but I have to admit to trying another blend offered by “experts” who have a highly rated cooking show and Jillie’s beat theirs hands down, even with my changes!

There are three ingredients, used in equal parts.  I make bread, pancakes, buns, flatbread and pizza dough with this all the time now, so I stir up a big batch in a large canister.  To have just enough for experimenting with this bread, you’ll need the following:

Gluten Free Flour Blend

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup tapioca flour (the package may say “tapioca starch”)

1 cup arrowroot powder

Quinoa is a complete protein and quinoa flour can be used to substitute for part or all of the arrowroot powder.  I’ve used this before when I was low on arrowroot and it is really tasty.  However, it is also super expensive, so I usually skip it.

Now let’s make bread!  I started with this recipe by Nicole Hunn over at glutenfreeonashoestring.com.  I found it to have issues (such as falling in the middle as it cooled) so I experimented for months with rising times, baking times and substituting and adding ingredients until I got past all those bumps in the road.  I knew this basic recipe was one I wanted to work with because of one stellar quality – it did not taste like cardboard rolled in sand.  Thanks, Nicole, for getting me started.  Without you, I might still be toastless!

Here’s my tested and perfected version:

Gluten-free Sourdough Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups gluten-free flour blend

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons bread-machine yeast

2 tablespoons raw honey

3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted and cooled

1 cup “fed” rye sourdough starter

1 ½ cups warm milk (or milk substitute of your choice) at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Instructions:

  1.  Generously grease a 9X5” loaf pan.  Set aside.  (I use a Pampered Chef stoneware pan)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, xanthan gum, cream of tartar and kosher salt.  Stir.  Add the bread-machine yeast.  Stir again.  Add the honey, coconut oil and sourdough starter; mix on a low setting to combine.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to the lowest setting and add milk, pouring in a slow, steady stream.  Once all the flour mixture has incorporated into the liquids, beat the ingredients on at least medium speed for 4-6 minutes (I have a KitchenAid and I set the speed on six for five minutes).  The dough will be sticky and thicker than cake batter, but not as thick as cookie dough.
  4. Scrape the dough into the greased loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula or damp fingers.
  5. Allow the dough to rise, covered, in a warm humid place for 30 minutes.  It will do most of its rising in the oven, so don’t expect it to expand as much as wheat breads you might be used to working with.
  6. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  7. Bake the loaf in a preheated oven for one hour.  Use the convection setting if you have that.  It should develop a light golden brown crust on top.
  8. Remove the bread from the pan immediately and allow it to cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cool.

The dough consistency may seem weird to you if you are used to baking wheat bread.  The shorter rising time and longer baking time, along with a lower baking temperature may seem a little different, too, but humor me and do it exactly like this the first few times and then you can play with all these aspects if it is not turning out exactly the way you want.  Remember, when it comes to baking, altitude, humidity and finicky ovens all play a part in the perfect loaf of bread.

Here’s a photo of the dough once my friend got it into the pan and ready to rise. I kept getting nervous little texts and photos asking if everything was coming along all right. She did everything to perfection!

Gluten-free Sourdough Bread Dough  midweststoryteller.com

A bit of advice about cooling the bread.  This bread is so fabulous when it is fresh that all I want to do is eat it warm and buttered.  However, its softness and loftiness is so easily squashed by even a good bread knife that I force myself to leave it alone for a few hours before nipping off a slice.  Then, I refrigerate the loaf to firm it up before putting it into the slicer (as shown in the first photo) and slice the whole loaf at once into perfect slices.  I put a few in a container in the refrigerator (after I’ve had my little bread feast) and the rest of the loaf goes into a freezer container with pieces of waxed paper between each slice so that I can pull some out for toast or whatever as needed.

I hope you enjoy this fabulous bread and get into the habit of making it every week or so for your family.

If you’d like to switch things up a bit and turn your sourdough into something more akin to buns for hamburgers or English muffin style rounds, you might try this idea that popped into my head.  It works great and gives me a change from ordinary sliced bread.

Purchase ten large stainless steel baking rings.  You want them to be the desired diameter of your finished “bun”.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and then with the rings that have been sprayed with coconut oil baking spray.  Fill the rings with equal amounts of your sourdough bread dough, let rise 30 minutes and before baking 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  The dough is thick enough not to creep out from under the rings while baking.  If the buns give a hollow sound when you tap them in the middle with your finger, they are ready to come out of the oven.

Here are my buns and the rings I use, which are about 4 inches in diameter.

Happy baking and don’t forget the butter!

Still have questions about bread or sourdough starter?  Leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out!

Share the bread and this post with your friends!  They’ll love it, too!  Let’s all get healthier together!

Pancakes made with this sourdough starter are AWESOME!  Smuffy says they’re the best I’ve ever made him! Another recipe for another day.

For more about my health journey and my thoughts on how not to just survive, but thrive, check out my Thrive! page

For your FREE printable recipes, CLICK HERE!

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Announcing March’s Freebie Winner!

The First Friday Freebie for March has found the perfect home!   

March Freebie Winner Ruth midweststoryteller.com

Ruth of St. Louis, Missouri!

Ruth was kind enough to email me a photo. She assures me that she is an avid reader and is tickled pink to receive her free autographed copy of “Pathways of the Heart” by Diane Yates.  There’s something mysterious in the way Smuffy’s fingers reach out for just the right name.  It’s as though, somehow, they just know.

Congratulations, Ruth!  You’re going to want to read the continuing story, “All That Matters”, too.

Here’s a photo of them both.

Books by Diane Yates midweststoryteller.com

If you’re feeling sad that you didn’t win this book by Diane Yates, remember you can visit www.dianeyates.com for access to her books, blog and more. Another thanks to Diane for donating a copy of her book to Midwest Storyteller. For my thoughts on “Pathways of the Heart” and an interview with Diane Yates, click here.

If you’d like to see the original freebie offer, click here.

Of course, I’m giving away another freebie on the first Friday of every month, so be sure to subscribe, if you haven’t already, and watch for the email you’ll receive on Friday, April 5th.

Visit the Freebies page where you can see what subscribers of Midwest Storyteller have been winning.

MORE ABOUT FREEBIES:  A winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight on the day of the drawing by leaving a comment as instructed in the post.  See the recently revised rules below.

And now, here are the Freebie Rules. 

Freebie Rules www.midweststoryteller.com

These four simple steps will have you ready to enter to win on April 5th.

Oh, and Happy Spring!  It’s been a long winter and I’m lovin’ this!

“Share”, “like” and “pin” this post!  You’re friends will want to enter to win, too!

Enjoying the Freebies?  Leave a comment!  If you’re on your computer, scroll back up under the title of this post and let me know what you’re thinking.  On various devices, you may find “Leave a Comment” at the bottom of the post.

Authentic Sourdough Just Like Great-Grandma Used to Make

A couple of months ago, I shared these photos of my homemade gluten-free sourdough bread on social media and immediately people began asking for a tutorial.

Soft Sourdough Bread

I am well aware of the reasons for that.  We all love the authentic taste of real artisan breads.  I do have one close friend who is not a bread lover.  It hasn’t broken up the friendship or anything, but I do confess to wondering at times what on earth is the matter with her!

The other reason, I believe, is that, at the sight of that fresh slice of bread curled up in my hand, people gasped and exclaimed, “You mean it’s possible – it’s really possible to have soft, wonderful, gluten-free bread that doesn’t shatter to dust when you bend it?”

Yes, it is!  I will confess, however, that it didn’t come quickly for me and it didn’t come easy.  Now that I’ve blazed the trail, so to speak, you can skip all the trial and error and have much more fun on a reasonably quick road to enjoying your bread.

I put a penny next to a fresh slice to give you an idea of the size of the loaf.

Lofty Sourdough Bread www.midweststoryteller.com

When I say “authentic”, I mean authentic and when I say from scratch, I mean really from scratch.

I’m sure you can use this same sourdough in any conventional bread recipe.  You’ll be able to find lots of recipes online for that.  I use it in my tried and tested, yummy, gluten-free version and I don’t feel cheated – not one bit!

IMPORTANT: Rye flour itself DOES have a certain amount of gluten, but the sourdough process breaks down that gluten, making it much more gut-friendly. However, if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, please consult your doctor before using rye flour.

I know some people run from the notion of gluten-free eating because they either think it’s going to taste “yucky”, or it isn’t “real food” or just because they think it’s the latest weird fad and they prefer not to jump on that bandwagon.  I’ll put my two-cents in on the topic of gluten-free in a nutshell and you can take it or leave it.

I promised myself I’d keep this post shorter and simpler than all the ones I read about sourdough when I started, but sourdough takes some explaining. Also, I am the storyteller, so here goes –

I want to live the longest, healthiest life I can live and I’ve had my share of ups and downs with health.  You can catch a glimpse into some of that here.

After decades of self-study (because it didn’t take me long to figure out that what the “orthodox” medical care folks knew about nutrition would fit in a thimble), I had it boiled down to this:  I needed veggies – lots of ‘em – and they didn’t need to be potatoes, corn and other starchy ones.  They needed to be yellow, green and leafy.  I needed to get away from white flour because, inside my body, it turned into something similar to that paste we used to see a few classmates eating in first grade – not a good thing for the intestines.  I needed to keep desserts to a minimum but, I actually thought that my great love of fudge brownies and glazed donuts could be indulged as long as I ate the veggies and whole-wheat, non-GMO stuff first.  I thought fat made you fat – silly me – having falling for that advertising myth.   I fed my family lots of homemade goodies made with the best ingredients our budget would allow.

I had some health issues that seemed minor.  You know what I mean – it comes under the category of “a million little things”, but it wasn’t cancer, heart problems or some auto-immune disease, so I tolerated those.

Help came with the addition of a balanced, whole-food supplement that helped resolve a lot of the issues because – let’s face it – we can’t eat balanced meals every single day and donuts do happen.

Then came about a three-year period of high stress for me.  Some overly demanding stress can be the good kind (months of wedding planning for my daughter), but some is the bad stuff (I lost my mother) and the list goes on.  The result?  Stage 3 adrenal fatigue arrived and refused to go away.

Now I will fast-forward to a point where, after I chose a new family practice M.D. who specializes in functional medicine (or that holistic stuff you hear people talking about), the doc informed me that adrenal fatigue such as I had could be beat – and then she handed me a big binder, saying, in essence, “Welcome to your next one to three years.”

I decided to show her I was hot stuff.  I’d knock her socks off in six months!  I’d be the best patient she ever had (and I think I actually might be) ‘cause I’ve got grit.  We started a treatment plan.  She advised me not to tax those pooped little adrenal glands any more than they already were.  Certain foods do that.  After three solid months of no sugar (even the “hidden” stuff in packaged foods) and no grains, we could talk again about whether I could add brown rice, quinoa and a couple of other things back into my diet.  If I behaved nicely and received her seal of approval, she might let me have sourdough bread.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that by the time I reached the end of that first three months my yearning for glazed donuts and fudge brownies would have reached a fever pitch?  Nope.  I’d been so diligent at removing all the inflammatory, gland-stressing baddies from my diet that sugar cravings left me around the second week!  Only one thing kept calling my name – ONE THING saddened me about this clean eating plan.  I.  Must.  Have.  TOAST!

When I asked the doctor if she remembered telling me I could someday have sourdough bread, she nodded and informed me that, lest I be thinking of a trip to the bakery, I’d best be prepared to put on my big girl panties once again and start from scratch.

All store-bought sourdough is fake sourdough.  I was to start with rye flour and water only, growing my own little bowl of funk on the kitchen counter as the “natural process” (which is a nice term for something that causes you to shrink back when you lift the lid) drew yeast from the air and eventually became, just as the name implies, sourdough.

Once I’d achieved this, I could bake bread with the gluten-free flour blend of my choice.

I headed for Natural Grocers to purchase rye flour and then frustrated myself for countless hours on the internet trying to find the perfect instructions for not only the sourdough starter, but the bread to follow.  There are a lot of bad recipes on the internet, especially in the gluten-free or “clean eating” categories, put there by poor souls who are trying to help others before they’ve found their own way.

The instructions for starting your own sourdough ranged from long and complicated to short and vague.  I treated the whole thing like rocket science and had great success.  One day, however, a half dozen or so loaves later, common sense arrived and said, “Do you really think your great-grandma over-thought the whole deal like this?”  That’s when I relaxed and started doing the whole process by eye and by feel.

Since it will take a week or ten days, depending on the amount of “good stuff” (we can laugh about this later) in the air in your kitchen, I’ll give you the instructions today for the sourdough starter only.  In a week or so, we’ll talk about bread.

The photo below shows what I use to mix and store my sourdough.

Sourdough Starter Ingredients  www.midweststoryteller.com

You’ll need to gather these four items before you start: 

           Rye Flour (I use the non-GMO Natural Grocers brand pictured.  I can get a two-pound bag at my local Natural Grocers for around $2.00.

            Water – tap water is FORBIDDEN here.  Use distilled, reverse osmosis or some other form of water that does not have chemicals that will kill the natural yeast that is trying to form.

            Non-reactive container with a resting lid for mixing and storing.  Aluminum will not work and I find ceramic or glass to be best.  The lid must keep moisture in while letting gasses escape.  A round bottom, such as pictured in the photo, allows for ease in mixing.  A snap-on lid will not work.  I found a lid from a small dish at a flea market that fit my bowl just right without sliding off.  Be sure your container is large enough to allow for comfortable stirring.

            Spatula and a ½ cup measuring cup.

Now for my super-simplified instructions and more than honest observations to keep you from over-thinking the process or throwing out your sourdough before you’re even finished.  You might want to read all my observations before you even start!

  1. Choose a starting time.  You need to decide on a time of day when you are usually always home and preferably, when you’re usually home twelve hours later – you’ll have a few days when you’ll feed the dough twice a day later on.  (Example:  7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. if you are working and your schedule allows you to give things a quick mix before and after work.)
  2. Using the ½ cup measure, add two scoops of rye flour to the bowl.
  3. Fill the ½ cup measure with distilled or reverse osmosis water to the bowl.  
  4. With the spatula, work the mixture together into a paste-like consistency, leaving no dry spots – every bit of flour must be moist.  If it seems too dry to incorporate the flour, add an additional tablespoon or two of water until you achieve a thick but totally moist paste.
  5. Scrape the mixture from the sides, pressing it into the bottom of the bowl and leveling the top with the spatula.  This will help to keep the whole mixture moist and help you to see exactly how much rising has occurred.
  6. Cover with the resting lid and leave on the counter for twenty-four hours.
  7. The following day, at around the same time, take your spatula and “slice” through the middle of the paste mixture, scooping out half the mixture to discard.  (I place a square of waxed paper on the counter and deposit it onto the center of the paper, then fold all sides in before plopping it into the trash to avoid icky smells in the kitchen.  I don’t know if other people run this down the disposal, but it might be a bad idea and you’ll see why as we go.)  Add two measures of flour and one measure of water.  Mix as before and leave on the counter.
  8. Now you’ve arrived at Day 3.  Repeat the process, discarding half the mixture and adding more rye flour and water.  Repeat this again on Day 4.  You’re probably starting to notice some changes occurring in that bowl.
  9. Now it is Day 5.  It’s time to repeat the process twice a day now.  Happy mixing and tossing!  Continue the twice-a-day process for Days 6, 7 and 8, or until your sourdough starter is doubling in size in between each time you toss out half and mix in more.
  10. Now your sourdough starter has been properly fed, is poofy and bubbly and is ready to use in breads, pancakes, pizza dough and all kinds of other yummy recipes!

Now it’s time for tough love, folks.  The awful truth that most of us, as modern day germaphobes who wrinkle our noses and pull the bleach wipes out of our holsters faster than Marshall Matt Dillon drawing on yet another Bad Bart, must face is that sourdough is good for you and isn’t going to kill you or your kids.  It is, however, going to be disgusting.

Embrace a little logic with me and admit that back before those tidy, little yeast packets appeared in stores, your ancestors grew their own.  These pioneers of sturdy stock survived making sourdough and so will you!

Having read what seemed like the entire internet to learn all the technicalities of how sourdough works and what’s really happening in that bowl, lest I mess the whole thing up and end up without toast or, even worse, kill us all, I’ll share my gleanings and eye-witness testimony.

After the first day or two, depending on the warmth of your kitchen and the amount of natural yeast in the air, you’ll see changes occur in your bowl of starter and they won’t be pretty.  It’ll get gray, then grayer, then disgusting to the point where you’ll be holding your breath when you remove the lid to go through your toss and mix routine.

Now, which of our ancestors looked into this pot of stench and thought it would come to a good end had more faith and optimism than I’ve ever possessed. We can add sourdough to the list of things, along with octopus and artichokes, that will go down in history as head-scratchers, making us wonder what poor, starving soul decided to give that a try.

There are two kinds of bacteria growing in there.  One is the yeasty, fruity-smelling kind we associate with fresh baked goods.  The other is an unspeakable horror.  What you are doing as you daily toss and mix is removing some of the horror and giving the yummy-yeasties a chance to take over.  It’s a jungle in there and we want the right critters to be king!  Around Day 5, you should notice a change in the look and smell.  It will be doubling in size each day as the horrible smell fades and the yeasty smell grows stronger and stronger, causing you to say to yourself, “Mmmm…when can I make bread?” rather than, “Please, can I just scrape this all off into the garbage?”

Speaking of scraping, another thing I’ve observed is that the word “paste” couldn’t be more applicable.  However, upon drying, a more appropriate term is “concrete”.  Immediately after using your spatula (or if you should transfer the starter from one bowl to another), submerge your utensils and dishes in water because, if it dries – Honey, it is on there!

Once your sourdough has turned into the real deal, you can keep it forever as long as you “feed” it at least once a week, which means scooping out a cup or so to use it in a recipe, share with a friend or toss so that you can add more rye flour and water.  If you neglect this, it will go funky on you and you’ll be starting over and who wants to go through the icky part again?  Once fed, leave it on the counter for a couple of hours to get it going before refrigerating it and when you pull it out again to use or feed, give it another couple of hours on the counter first to “poof”.

I’ve not tried to freeze or dry my starter in order to take a break for vacation or other reasons, but I’ve heard it’s possible to do that and “wake it up” when you need it again.

Get your starter started and in a week or so, we’ll make bread!

Yummy Sourdough Bread  www.midweststoryteller.com

If you’d like to be ready for this yummy gluten-free bread, here’s your shopping list:  Brown rice flour, tapioca flour and arrowroot powder (you’ll need at least a cup of each), cream of tartar, a small amount of honey, kosher salt, yeast, refined coconut oil, milk or milk substitute.

And don’t forget the butter!

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments during your process and I’ll try my best to answer.  I know I had lots of them when I started!

Share this post with your friends who’ve been frustrated with bread making or who are searching for gluten-free, dairy free or just plain healthier food options.

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