Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: Against the Grain by Nancy Cain

What happens when you are a mom known for your homemade pizza Friday nights and your son is diagnosed with celiac disease? You realize that gluten is in everything! You head out on a mission to find a way to make pizza. This is exactly what happened to Nancy Cain, owner of Against the Grain Gourmet and author of "Against the Grain."

The introduction to "Against the Grain" tells the Cain family story that lead them to creating a gluten free baking company. She then explains the fundamentals of gluten free baking and why gums are not necessary. In the fundamentals you find out so many things about the importance of the pans (much more important in gluten free baking than standard baking) and the essential items for a gluten free pantry.  

I had wanted to experiment with gluten free baking in November since I was tired of the constant stomach aches. I had gluten free pizza at a friends house and it was the first time in a long time I was not in pain 15 minutes after eating. I purchased a gluten free flour mixture, gluten free bread mix and xantham gum. I had made the bread and that was nice to be able to eat a sandwich. I had cut it out for the most part in bread and pasta for a week. I realized that I am sensitive to gluten - I can eat some, but when I hit a limit I then get 'sick' again. 

When I saw this cookbook available to review at Blogging for Books I jumped at the chance. I had experience with a few gluten free mixes and although it was nice not having stomach issues after eating, the texture of the foods left much to be desired. After the introductory pages I found myself leafing through the recipes. I found things that I was SO excited to try. I had The Hickmans pick out things to try and I added the items to my grocery list. 

Now I typically get everything I can at Aldi and Dollar Tree. This is how I feed us typically for around $75 for a week.  Knowing I was going to be trying out some new recipes I added $25 to our budget for this week. I also knew I was going to have to head out to some other stores. I found most of what I needed at Kroger. I think I would have found it all, but they were out of the Buckwheat flour. I got all the extra I needed (except the Buckwheat flour) for 17. The coconut flour and coconut milk were on sale, it would have been 20 without the sale.

I found a recipe for pancakes and instead of the flours suggested I just used the flour mix I had. They turned out. They were good, but not great. I knew it was because I didn't follow the recipe exactly I used different flours. I read the introductory pages, I understood that different flours need different hydration levels. I knew not using the exact flours listed would make a difference. 

So with the next recipe I followed it, to the letter. We are trying the little Hickmans pick. Tater Donuts. Gather your supplies and helpers.

Follow the directions and get this scrambled egg looking dough. Be fearful that it is going to taste like fried eggs and potatoes, but keep going and trust the process.  

Taste the donuts with a little hesitation ... the whole fear of fried eggs and potatoes. Then realize that your fears are -- once again -- unwarranted. 

These are delicious! 

I called my dad (a chef).

D: "Hello."
M: "Dad, I may never buy donuts again. These are as if french crawlers and cake donuts had a love child."
D: Laughs at me.

Then I text the husband.

"Oh my these are a little bite straight from heaven. As if it is a tantalizing dance just for my mouth. Seriously, you might not get any!"

The kids are crazy and didn't like them. These are very airy and they like a dense cake donuts, so that makes sense to me. 

There is something else that I just love about this cookbook. With each recipe there is a little story, reason behind the recipe, or tip to make the recipe even better. I love aspect. 

I had mentioned it earlier, but I want it to be known. I was given this book in exchange for a review. At no point was I asked to give a positive review and all the opinions are 100% my own. 

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