Sunday, 16 June 2013

My Father's Hands

My father is a super-hero. Possibly wolverine, but if he hadn't had the adamantium thing. Or the claws. Okay, mostly I'm referring to his unbreakability. 

Dad has been in car accidents, he was hit by a train, he's fallen through ice more than once, survived a plane crash up north, and just generally rocked more situations I can count that literally had other people panicking and mentally saying goodbye to their loved ones. Dad is amazingly unflappable. He stays calm, does what needs to be done to make sure that he and everyone else in his care stay safe and unharmed. 

One of my favourite Dad-survival stories is the one about how he lost his pinkie finger. 

When I was about 7, we lived on a cattle ranch in the absolute middle of nowhere in Manitoba. One day, Dad was out in one of the back paddocks dealing with a bull. Said bull was not being co-operative in the slightest, but Dad managed to get a rope on him. He had the rope wrapped around his hand, which he later said he knew was a damnfool thing to do, but seemed to make sense at the time. Unfortunately, the damn thing then ran around a pole, creating a very useful pulley effect. One more heave from the bull and pop! off came Dad's pinkie. 

Of course, he was way far out in the paddocks and then had to drive himself all the way back to the house, with his hand out the window to keep it above his head and also to keep from bleeding all over the truck. 

I don't actually remember this day, but I do remember when he came back from the hospital and I saw that his finger was half-gone. I remember seeing his stitches and hearing the story and thinking "Wow. My dad's a super-hero."

And that's never changed. Dad recently had his shoulder replaced and my husband was way more worried about the surgery than I was. When he asked my why I wasn't worried about my dad having this fairly significant surgery, I stopped to really examine my feelings. They boiled down to this: I truly believe that my father is invincible. And I was pretty much proved right when the surgery went perfectly and, at his first recovery check-in, Dad was healing much faster and much better than the doctors were expecting (despite another run-in with a bloody cow, this one involving a wall). 

So there you have it.  Happy Father's Day, Dad. You're my hero.

Friday, 14 June 2013

From the Ashes of Disaster (Gluten-Free Bread)

Today (yesterday, actually) I decided to try making gluten-free bread. I'm not celiac, nor do I have any allergy, but I do have some health issues my doctor thinks might be helped by cutting back on gluten. And being an obsessive baker, I've been wanting to try making it for a while.

I decided to simply convert my favourite bread recipe, which may not have been the best idea. I realize now that most of what makes this bread awesome comes directly from the gluten, but hey! I love experimental baking. 

It started off well enough, the flour looked nice. 

Mmm, yeast....

The resulting dough was much more cake-like than bread-like, but I figured I'd just go with it. Into the oven (with just the light on) overnight with you!

Next morning it looked... Exactly the same. This does not bode well.


Oh well. I'll just bake it anyway! What's the worst that could happen? ....time to take the lid off, let's see what mess I've got here. What's this?

It worked! It puffed up! I appear to have achieved bread! Fantastic!

Final verdict: I'm not impressed. I'm not really keen on the flavor. Or the texture. This gluten-free thing is going to be really difficult.... I think I'll definitely try another, actual, from-someone-who-knows-what-they're-doing recipe before I give up, though. And the kids seem to like it, so there's that. 

3 cups all-purpose GF flour
3 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp yeast
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 cups water

Mix flour, xanthan gum, yeast and salt in a medium sized bowl.

Add flour, mix well. 

Cover bowl with Saran Wrap and leave in a warm place for 12-18 hours. (Note: this had virtually no effect on the dough, so may not be necessary. But it was in the original, so I've kept it here)

Scrape dough out onto a piece of parchment paper, knead gently a few times and then shape into a round. Lift the dough and parchment into a clean bowl, let sit for 1.5 hrs. 

After 1hr, place a clean Dutch oven in the oven and start preheating to 500 degrees. After half an hour, move the dough and parchment paper to the Dutch oven. Cover with the lid and return to the oven. 

Bake at 500 degrees for half an hour. Remove lid, reduce oven to 450 and bake for another 15-25 mins. 

Remove from oven, remove from Dutch oven and cool on a wire rack. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Diaper delivery day! (Diapers, of course)

Friday was diaper delivery day. A friend had a little boy in march and she asked if I was interested in making her some cloth diapers. It just so happened that I had recently discovered a diaper pattern that I really really like. It's from Fabricland, part of their new Babyville Boutique line. I have to say they are the only diapers that I have made that when put on Willow don't immediately start leaking. They are super-cute, too.

No tutorial today, just pictures. The pattern gives me license to make and sell (on a small-scale) the diapers, but I certainly can't make the pattern available on the Internet for free! 

I love the leg-openings. The stuffers agitate out in the wash, it's great!

I will say, though, that although the finished product is fantastic, the pattern instructions leave a little to be desired. They use photos instead of technical drawings (like most paper patterns use) and the photos are not especially clear. This is not a beginner pattern. As such, if you have the pattern and are having problems with it, shoot me a line and I'll help you if I can. Maybe I'll do a diaper tips post...

Same pattern, different fabric. These were for my sister!

Sooooo many snaps....