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Just In Time! 04/15/2014 04:07 PM
Just recently, I finished my third pair of fingerless mittens. My first two pairs each had issues: the thumb gusset on pair one was too small so that pair was rehomed and a bad yarn choice doomed pair two. But this pair? I think this pair is just right.

Hedgerow Mitts

Naturally, I finished them up right in time for the weather to get warm, so I figured I wouldn't be using them until next winter. Wrong! They were perfect last night during the eclipse.

This pair is made with a broken rib pattern (that was actually entertaining for me instead of mind-numbing, which is how I normally see ribbing) so it is very elastic - no too tight thumb gusset! I also used a much better yarn choice for this pair (a yarn with a good twist and not single ply!) so they should hold up worlds better.

Now here's hoping the weather will be too nice to wear them!
Not Color Adjusted 04/15/2014 11:05 AM
Last night was very cold. And yet Dan and I were outside for a good while last night, watching the eclipse. Of course the eclipse coincided with a major dip in the weather. It might have been 82° the day before, but last night was 42°. Cold. But pretty.

Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse

I can see why they call it the blood moon.

In slightly other news, while we were out there watching the eclipse, we also saw Mars (it was orange!), Jupiter, and Saturn. While Mars and Jupiter were visible even during the full moon, Saturn didn't show up until the moon was mostly covered. When we first went outside, the moon was so bright barely any stars could be seen - just the super-bright ones. But once the eclipse started, tons of stars (and a planet!) showed up.

Cold, but enjoyable!
Beer! 04/14/2014 07:35 PM
It's a been a while with the move and everything, but this weekend Dan was finally able to cook up a batch of beer! His plan had originally been to make a wheat beer for me (my favorite of his beers) but the whole celiac thing makes that... yeah. So now, he's making me a wheat beer!

GF Beer TBNL

No really, he's making a gluten free wheat beer. It doesn't actually have any wheat in it, but it uses a (gluten free) yeast that is used in wheat beers which is really where a lot of the taste I love comes from.

This time he used a syrup (white sorghum) instead of making a all-grain mash like he has in the past. I like the idea of maybe one day he'll be able to make a GF beer with the full grains, but we need to get a better handle on what makes a GF beer good first. Though I will say, while I enjoy the nuances a homemade mash adds to the beer, I don't miss the house smelling like super sweet grains for days after a brew!
More Bread! 04/14/2014 10:25 AM
I've made another loaf of bread! And I've discovered: after three loaves of gluten-free bread, I have forgotten what normal bread tastes like. (Dan answer: "not much".) But I think that's why gluten-free people say things like "oh, this new gluten-free bread is awesome! It's just like regular bread." I think they've forgotten regular bread. Because GF bread is never like regular bread.

Not that my previous loaves have been bad, but they haven't been very comforting-squishy-bready. Hopefully this lately bread has put me on the road to change that.

ATK Bread

Look at those lovely air bubbles! It's like a legitimate glutened yeast bread! It looks light and squishy! And it is... kinda.

I used a recipe from America's Test Kitchen that included their gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Honestly, this blend makes the most sense to me since they replace non-nutritious white (wheat) flour with the less nutritious white rice flour. Everywhere else using brown rice which, to me, seems more appropriate if you want to replace whole wheat bread.

Of course, instead of using white rice flour, I accidentally used sweet white rice flour, which I didn't realize was a different until after baking when I was trying to figure out why my bread was a bit gummy. Oops. So yeah, it looks great and normal bread-y, but it's a bit sticky. However! Even a tad too wet, the bread is soft and springy, just like a good white bread. I think that's because their recipe uses psyllium instead of xanthan (or guar) gum to bind. I've read that psyllium husks give GF bread a much more "normal" feel and based on this (improperly made) loaf, I'd have to agree.

I have ordered some of the correct flour so I'll be able to give this a go again soon and hopefully that will take care of the slight gumminess. Stupid baking! It doesn't do well with substitutions (even accidental ones).
Back on Its Axis 04/13/2014 11:31 AM
The world has been righted. I have cast on for a pair of socks.

Finally

Seriously, I just got done knitting a tubular-shaped item with a sock-appropriate number of stitches that had to be made in a pair and yet I still felt itchy not having any socks in progress. I suppose there is just something about knitting something with a toe and impending heel-turn.

And now that I have some socks going, the world is how it should be. (Well, except for that whole celiac thing. Still getting used to that. But apparently socks trump celiac. Which shows the awesome power of socks!) This might be a strong indicator of a sock-knitting addiction. Which is good since I'm pretty sure I also have a sock yarn addiction.
Book Four: A New Theme 04/10/2014 08:32 PM
I suppose one good thing about being diagnosed with celiac is that I have more books that are of interest to me now.

The first: Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H.R. Green, M.D. and Rory Jones Thrilling title, huh? But it was educational and not normally depressing (despite the earlier snippet from it I shared about my increased rates of, you know, a horrible death.)

I did discover while reading this that I cannot read celiac-realted things before bed. It gives me weird and stressful medical- and disease-related dreams. Not restful.

I've also learned that I'm probably going to be pretty dang low-risk when it comes to what foods I eat and the potential cross-contamination. Honestly, before I was diagnosed (but after I knew I had the gene), I figured I'd be a little more of a risk taker when it came to choosing food. I should have known better given how paranoid I always was when it came to safely feeding my mother.

But yeah, all the pain in my hands and feet I've been dealing with plus a three-day-long reaction-from-hell after eating some brown rice pasta that, best we can figure, was likely contaminated (before it got to me) and I'm definitely on the strictly-gluten-free-is-good bandwagon. (Because three days of feeling like my finger has a serrated knife sawing into the bone with every movement? Not fun. On the positive side, three days seems to be the limit of the pain - I ate that pasta twice and both times hurt like the dickens for three days then things started going back to normal. Which also explains why my hands stopped hurting during the week and a half of my cold - for about a week of that, I lived off of homemade (gluten-free) chicken soup. Felt better, added my normal wheat-based cereal in again and, bam, pain!)

And this post has nothing to do with the book other than I read it. So yeah. I read it. Have celiac? Read this book. It's much preferred over the group-hug-let's-sing-kumbaya-in-gluten-free-solidarity or jump-on-the-gluten-free-fad-diet books that seem to overwhelm and Amazon "celiac" search.

Next up, more celiac-themed reading: Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano and Susie Flaherty. I'm really looking forward to this one. My mom speaks highly of Dr. Fassano and he's a pretty big name in celiac so that's cool. But I'm mostly excited by the fact that this book was just published (Amazon shows the publication date as the 29th, but I got my pre-order today) compared to Dr. Green's book which was revised and updated back in 2010. Yay current information!
Mitts Mitts Mitts 04/08/2014 05:16 PM
I'm currently dying to knit some socks. It's like a compulsion. But I only have one pair of 5" cables for my little interchangeable sock needles. And they are currently being used by my fingerless mitts. Of which I only have the thumbs to do. But my fingers have been hurting so much I can barely do anything with them, including knit. So my mitts are just sitting there. Occupying my 5" cables.

Of course, even if my cables were free, I'm still in a bit too much pain to knit. And I have two more cables ordered, being shipped to me as I type this. But yeah, I wanna knit socks.

On the plus side, I think my fingerless mitts are totally awesome.

Fingerless Mitts

Kind of hard to get a good picture of though. But awesome. And my hands are starting to feel better so knitting can happen soon (I hope)!
More Awesomeness 04/07/2014 02:43 PM
Cocoa likes my hot water bottle, too.

Hot Water Bottle Cocoa


Much Better! 04/07/2014 12:19 AM
I had a second go at gluten free bread on Friday. It went very well!

Bread Take Two

I actually had the correct flours so I got pretty close in actually following the recipe! I did still had to make adjustments as there is no instant yeast I can have (only active dry yeast) and I don't yet have a corn-free xanthan gum.

Speaking of xanthan gum, I've been substituting guar gum because that's the easiest to buy at the store, but turns out I was doing it wrong. In cookies and flatbreads you can substitute guar gum for xanthan on a 1:1 ratio. But in yeast breads, you apparently need to use 1.5 times the guar gum compared to xanthan. Good to know! I have ordered a corn-free xanthan gum, though, since it's supposed to help with bread fluffiness. We shall see.

I do hope to try more binder substitutes. Psyllium fiber is number one on my list since it is supposed to help make GF bread texture more similar to glutened bread, but I also want to try chia and flax seeds. I have a whole world of bread making yet to learn!
Oh Goodie 04/03/2014 11:08 PM
Patients with celiac disease have an increased mortality rate that exceeds that of the general population....The overall risk for malignancy for specific cancers in people with celiac disease has been reported at anywhere from nine to thirty-four times greater than that of the general population.

Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Peter H.R. Green, M.D. & Rory Jones

On the plus side, those with celiac disease have a lower instance of breast cancer. Yay?