new beginnings

Wow. Two years of silence and I find myself wondering if I really want to keep doing this. So many things have changed in the last two years, some good and some not so good.

Rather than try to explain my absence I’ll just kind of pick up again and continue writing about my day to day life. Hubby is now retired so life has changed a little but for the good. He doesn’t like gardening quite as much as I do, but he is around more to help with maintenance and the heavy lifting.

I’m impatient for Spring to really and truly arrive. The last few weeks we’ve had a lot of rain but I won’t complain. Last year we had some extreme drought conditions (weird, with living on the “wet” coast). Some areas of BC weren’t allowed any watering at all and many of our nurseries lost valuable stock.

Today’s temperature: 10ºC  . Cloudy with the occasional shower.

Learning to bake the gluten-free way!

bricks off
While I’m not gluten intolerant, we have friends that are. I’ve done a little gluten-free cooking but hadn’t really investigated the baking end of things.

So while the contracting crew tore all the bricks off the front of our house with a giant drill that reminded me of the dentist, I decided to do a little cookie baking experiment since I was too hyper with all the noise to just sit and knit.




I decided to try a gluten-free wheat flour substitute called Cloud 9 All-Purpose flour (found it at Costco in Canada). It’s manufactured locally, and the best part is that it’s a cup for cup substitute for wheat flour (that I don’t have to mix up myself).

I have used it before in muffins, waffles and pancakes but this time I wanted to try it with my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe (back of the milk chocolate chips package) and my own usual additions. I subbed in the Cloud 9 flour and added chopped candied cherries and toasted chopped pecans along with the entire package of milk chocolate chips.

The first difference I noticed was that the dough set up really quickly once the flour was added which made it difficult to stir in the cherries, nuts and chips. Next time I think I’ll toss those into the flour mixture, stir that up and then add it into the liquids, and possibly putting in a 1/4 cup less flour.

1-3cookiesAs I’ve been making this recipe for years, I started out with the recommended temperature of 375° F. This was a MAJOR fail. The cookies didn’t flatten down, they baked too fast, the bottoms got way too brown. When they cooled they were pretty much rocks.

For the second tray I dropped the temperature to 350° F, but at the 10 minute mark they were overly baked on the outside and still a little too under-baked inside.

On the third attempt, I let the oven cool down to 325° F and baked the cookies for 11 minutes. These came out more the way I expected them to be. Slightly flattened, still a little chewy and the bottoms were not overly browned.

Ironically, one of the fellows working on our house is gluten intolerant and was more than happy to test the cookies. He gave the third batch 2 thumbs up!

Other than having to lower the baking time, the most significant difference was in the taste of the final product. The cookies weren’t as sweet (the recipe contains 2 cups of brown sugar), and that sort of carmel flavour was over-powered most likely by the buckwheat in the flour mix. I will use the Cloud 9 Flour again but will continue to tweak the recipe to bring a little more sweetness into the cookies.

Can’t garden yet, so let’s talk knitting!

Here in the Vancouver BC area, winter has been kind. The only snow came and left so quickly that I almost slept through it, which made me feel a little sad. I like experiencing the change of seasons, and snow (to me) is what makes winter! On the plus side, if this continues I’ll be out in the garden by the end of February, and we barely broke out the snow shovels!

basket of yarnMeanwhile, I am knitting (with occasional bouts of crochet); my other great love. I spent time on Ravelry this morning doing a little plotting and planning for Spring knitting projects, while promising myself none of these things will be started before I finish up some of the long neglected items that fill my project bags and baskets.

A prime example of neglected for far too long would be this “Homage to Acrylic” crochet afghan that I started in 2008 (ACK) for my daughter, Lindsay. Needless to say this has climbed to the top of the guilt list as the “must finish now” project for January/February 2014. I had hoped to get it all done this month, but my wrist isn’t going to hold out if I continue to crochet for 6 hours a day. Finished by February will work just fine.

As always, getting the colours right will be the hardest part!Back on Ravelry, I instantly fell in love with Knittingtherapy’s beautiful BlueSand Cardigan and instantly purchased the pattern. I’m using stash just to figure out a colour sequence before making any yarn purchases. I’d prefer to knit from the stash too, but I don’t think that’s going to work. I want low contrast stripes, which will be more flattering for my shorter stature and body type.