The rain finally fell today.
It's been over a month of dry weather; streams have dried up, and on long walks with my dog she jumps in excitedly at the site of every bed... Only to the thud of her paws on parched stones, and the scraping of her claws against rocks as she glides across them. Despite the lack of water, and to my surprise, there was still mud at the sides of the trails, an oozing dark brown with green skunk cabbages dotted throughout. It ushers dogs in, and their paws end up muddy, like little boots, just as you turn to leave. Its my dog's way of getting a bit more out of our walks.
This week I took my dog, a springer spaniel, and my neighbours two dogs, both cocker spaniels mixed, one with pug and one with springer spaniel. They were tons of fun running around, chasing one another, and jumping in the lake nearby. We ended up staying far too long at the beach, where sticks strewn about were picked up by the dogs to be thrown. My dog, with her huge webbed feet, loves the water, and splashes in jovially kicking off the ground to get height with each jump. The other two, both small and frisky, rolled around in the grass, tumbling over each others backs in play.
I met friends at the beach who were enjoying the bright sun and the peaceful air; squatting on the beach they looked out at the rippling water until the dogs disturbed their rest. Tourists lazed on the beach as well, but their serenity was halted as a wet dog made her way over to nuzzle their faces. Luckily, they didn't become angry, and instead played with the dogs, rubbing their bellies and running around in circles, looking for the excited faces of the dogs to watch in earnest, prized on the stick.
And still the rain fell as the day turned to night, the crisp in the air turned icy, and the drops became heavier, soaking into the parched ground, washing away debris.
It's so cleansing watching droplets run down windows, streaking the glass as if wiping it clean. The air becomes fresh as well, with the heaviness diminishing after each cloud burst.
Although its very different when it rains here compared to England, when the rain feels depressing, somber, and heavy. Rainy days weren't comforting when I visited this summer, however perhaps because I was jet lagged the first week of my holiday gave the wrong impression. It poured continuously as I stayed with uncles, until mum arrived. And from that day on, the sun shone, and I wore shorts and tank tops everyday, even tanning in London!
The freshness of this rain is much needed for the plants, to wear fall clothes (and boots!), and especially to enjoy the comfort of autumn foods. And I remind myself to dress warmly when I awake, when the night still darkens the morning until I leave the house. It's as if I still expect it to be sunny in just a few short hours, wiping away the brisk morning front.
Brisk morning fronts. As if standing atop a Scottish castle, overlooking the moors.
I've got Scotland on my mind, just as I've got my nana on my mind as well. My grandad recently sent me gluten-free recipes that my nana worked on to make a cookbook, although it has not been published. I've only received a couple of recipes, but I hope to try each recipe and post how it goes on here, including pictures to add.
It started in the late 1970's when my grandad first became sick. Initially he was brought to the doctors attention because of pain in his appendix, which transitioned into the discovery of his celiac disease, and the reason for his declining health.
When my grandad explains this story he always jokes about the numerous cakes and pies he ate, in hope of gaining weight, but further compounding the problem with even more gluten.
My nana, as a young woman, trained in the field then known as "domestic science," which included nutrition, diet and cooking, as well as an exploration of the research behind the science of cooking. This knowledge also helped her to make cordials and jams, as well as wine from tea. If only I knew how!
So when my grandad got sick, and was diagnosed as a celiac, my nana enthusiastically jumped at the challenge to help him, including tackling her own recipes. Everything she cooked was formulated by herself, as there was no access to the internet for tips on blogs like today.
Over the years she worked on recipes to help him, and was able to bring my grandad back to full health. Now, I start with her first recipe, a gluten-free flour mix, and the basic element to gluten-free cooking.
Having a strong base to cook with results in an easier time in the kitchen, no mixing flours every time, and packets aren't at risk of spilling across the floor each time you bake when rows of packets precariously line the counter tops.
My Nana's Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Stir together a large batch of this mix and store in an airtight container in the fridge for later use in any baked goods. It is preferable to use within 3 months.
One thing to note, is that chickpea flour does have quite a strong, earthy taste, which you may not like at all. Recently, I have taken chickpea flour out of this recipe and replaced it with coconut - a sweeter, softer flour. So feel free to mix it up, but the general guidelines are as follows.
Makes 1 kg, however if you bake a lot, double this recipe.
250 g potato flour (not starch)
200 g tapioca flour
175 g rice flour
250 g maize flour
125 g chickpea flour, coconut or sorghum flour can also be used to
replace chickpea flour, or any of the above
flours in the same quantities.
Combine, and mix well.
Pour into an airtight jar, and store in a cool, dry place.
Add baking powder when called for in recipes.
Labels: baked, baking, chickpea flour, cooking, flour, flour mix, gluten-free, maize flour, potato flour, rice flour, tapioca flour