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Gluten-Free Sourdough Challah Bread

Makes two loaves

Challah (pronounced HAH-lah) is the braided bread traditionally eaten on Jewish holidays and at Shabbat, the weekly Sabbath meal. The taste and texture, as well as symbolism, of this bread are rich and heavenly.

The three strands of the braid can mean truth, peace, and justice; and the twists of the braid can signify our intertwining love for one another. Seeds sprinkled over the loaf are a reminder of the manna – sprinkled down from heaven – during the Israelite’s 40 years of wandering. Two loaves represent the double measure provided in preparation for the Sabbath.

This gluten-free sourdough version is inspired by Sandor Katz’ recipe for Sourdough Challah Bread in his book Wild Fermentation. It’s excellent sopped in extra-virgin olive oil and a balsamic vinegar.

1 cup mature Gluten-Free Natural Levain Starter Culture

1 cup whole coconut milk, at room temperature

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 ½ cups tapioca flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

2 cups arrowroot powder

¼ cup whole cane, date, or palm sugar

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 ½ teaspoons unrefined sea salt, finely ground

¼ cup sunflower oil or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan

1 large egg, lightly beaten (for the glaze)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (or a mixture of poppy and sesame seeds)

In a large mixing bowl combine the mature starter, coconut milk, and eggs. Whisk until combined. In a medium bowl combine the tapioca flour, arrowroot powder, sugar, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Add the flour mixture by the cupful to the starter mixture. Use a wooden spoon or the dough hook to mix until each addition of flour is fully incorporated. Continue to mix until a sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the oil. Continue to mix until all of the oil is incorporated into the dough, about 2 more minutes.

Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Lightly oil the paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.  Using floured hands, gently roll and form each piece of dough into a strand about 14 inches long and slightly tapered at each end.

Place 3 strands onto the lined cookie sheet. Braid the strands of dough by starting in the middle. Braid the first end by gently lifting alternating strands to the center of the braid. Use your entire hand to support the dough. Next, braid the opposite end. Move alternating strands to the center of the braid by braiding in reverse (underhanded). (Pass alternating outside strands under the center strand.) Pinch together and fold under the ends. Repeat with the other 3 strands of dough. Separate the loaves by 2-3 inches on the pan.

The right side of this loaf is braided in reverse (underhanded).

Set in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place to rise until puffed by 1-2 inches, about 2-3 hours.

Center the oven rack. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Brush the tops of the challah with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the top. Remove from the pan. Cool on a rack. Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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My post from April 9,  Fabulously Frugal, Sprouted Lentils, reminded me that I have been wanting to share another fabulous way to save money on natural, gluten-free, and organic foods. A few months back I began actively seeking coupons, weekly sales, and special discounts for items that we regularly purchase from stores. At first I was skeptical – I though that there wouldn’t be coupons and sales for natural and organic foods – yet over the last few months I have found several ways to make these types of small savings add up – all without compromising on buying mostly local, fairly traded, and organic food! This week I’ll share my strategies for gluten-free, organic, and natural foods couponing.

Initially, I was inspired to investigate the possibilities of natural foods coupons by the Chinook Book. The book costs $20, but can be found on sale for $15 (we bought one at the Better Living Show for $10). It is filled with coupons for discounts on natural foods and at natural foods stores (and for many other green-ish businesses). In my household the Chinook Book quickly pays for itself. For example, for each of Portland’s Co-Op’s (People’s, Food Front, and Alberta Street) there are coupons for 5 dollars off a purchase of 25 dollars. That’s 25% off our groceries!

Click here to view a list of the natural grocery coupons in the Chinook Book.

Click here to view a list of the local grocery store coupons in the Chinook Book.

Keep an eye out for coupon books in your favorite grocery stores. New Season’s and Whole Foods each have in-store coupon books. (Whole Foods coupons are also available online.) People’s, Food Front, and Alberta Street Co-Ops (and other co-ops) share the bi-monthly Co-Op Advantage coupon book, though not all of the products are available at every store. Free, bi-monthly publications like Remedies for Life, Taste for Life, and Delicous Living frequently contain coupons, I pick them up at Food Front in Hillsdale. Other print publications frequently contain coupons, I like to scan neighborhood and weekly newspapers, as well as my favorite print magazines devoted to healthy lifestlyes. (Living Without and Whole Living frequently contain natural foods coupons.)

I’ve found a few coupon websites devoted to natural foods. Mambo Sprouts Coupons is affiliated with the coupon giant Coupons.com and is regularly updated with new coupons. Coupons.com, like the Sunday paper coupon inserts, is mostly for conventional foods, however, there are occasionally natural products coupons to be found on/in both. HealthESavers.com is also dedicated to natural foods, but it is updated only occasionally Whole Foods coupons are updated bi-monthly, but (of course) they are only good at Whole Foods.

Click here to view Mambo Sprouts coupons

Click here to view Coupons.com coupons.

Click here to view HealthESavers coupons.

Click here to view Whole Foods coupons.

Some natural foods companies offer coupons to people who sign up for their mailing lists or become their Facebook fans. Look for mailing lists and facebook pages that offer specific coupons when you sign-up or ‘like’ the company. I’ve had repeated success with directly contacting companies and requesting coupons. I send quick e-mail note telling the company what at I appreciate about them, which products I buy, and I request coupons. (Some even send samples!) I encourage you to contact some of these exciting companies.

Columbia Gorge Organics

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (they make coconut oil too),

Food For Life (sprouted and gluten-free breads)

Nancy’s Cultured Dairy & Soy

(These links provide you with the contact page, but you must make the request.)

All of this may seem exciting and overwhelming, so here are three things that I do to keep couponing helpful and under-control.

#1. My own rule has become that coupons must be for something I would normally purchase (even without the coupon) or for special treats on special occasions. (They’re for saving money not spending more!)

#2. Organization is key. I keep a small 3-ring binder with clear pockets to organize all of my coupons. It’s cute, tidy, and fits easily into my purse or shopping basket. I’m sure to keep it with me and I’ve seen other shoppers eyeing it enviously!

#3. Combining coupons and sales is always best, so next week I’ll share how I keep track of sales.

Do you have any tips for gluten-free, organic, or natural-foods couponing? I’d love to hear any suggestions in the comments below.

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Gluten-Free, Sourdough Pita Bread

Makes 8

I’m truly delighted by these little, gluten-free, sourdough flat breads. They puff-up when baked, they’re perfect for pocket sandwiches, and they’re wonderful with hummus!

2 cups mature Gluten-Free Natural Levain Starter Culture

½ cup warm (about 100 degrees F), well, spring, or filtered water

1 ½ cups tapioca flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

1 ½ teaspoons whole, unrefined sea salt

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl combine the mature starter, warm water, honey, chia seeds, and xanthan gum. Whisk until evenly combined, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sorghum flour and ½ cup of the tapioca flour at a time. Use a wooden spoon or the dough hook to mix incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Mix until the oil has been absorbed into the dough, about 1 more minute. Scrape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the mixing bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat in the oil. Cover tightly. Set to rise in a warm (about 75 degrees F) place for 2 ½-3 hours, until nearly doubled in bulk.

Center the oven rack. Place a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan in the cold oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Use a bench scraper or chef’s knife to cut the dough into eight equal portions. Lightly flour your hands, a work surface, and a rolling pin.  Form the dough into a ball. Flatten and roll into a round that is ¼-inch to 3/8-inch thick and about 6-inches in diameter.

Bake 3-4 breads per batch on the hot cookie sheet. After 3 minutes remove from the oven. Flip each bread. Use the flat side of a metal spatula to press down all of the bubbles in the pita (this actually helps the bubbles to expand). Return to the oven. Bake until puffy and barely browned, about 3-4 more minutes. Stack hot pita breads and wrap in a kitchen towel. This will keep them moist and warm for up to one hour. Serve while still warm. Store cooled pita tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Streusel-Topped, Gluten-Free, Sourdough Coffee Cake

When:

Wednesday May 2, 2012; 6-7:30 p.m.

What:

Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking: How to Use Traditional Techniques with Gluten-Free Flours

Join me  for an evening of demonstrations, samples, and discussion. Learn to make your own sourdough starter, maintain an ongoing starter culture, and use it to leaven breads, cakes, and more! (Bring a small jar with a lid to take home your own starter.)

Where:

People’s Food Co-Op – In the Community Room

Everyone is Welcome!

3029 SE 21st Avenue

Portland, Oregon

Cost:

Free

Please call the People’s Co-Op to register, 503-674-2642.

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When:

Wednesday May 2, 2012; 6-7:30 p.m.

What:

Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking: How to Use Traditional Techniques with Gluten-Free Flours

Join me  for an evening of demonstrations, samples, and discussion. Learn to make your own sourdough starter, maintain an ongoing starter culture, and use it to leaven breads, cakes, and more! (Bring a small jar with a lid to take home your own starter.)

Where:

People’s Food Co-Op – In the Community Room

Everyone is Welcome!

Gluten-free natural levain starter

3029 SE 21st Avenue

Portland, Oregon

Cost:

Free

Please call the People’s Co-Op to register, 503-674-2642.

Links to some of the techniques & recipes featured in the class:

Gluten-Free Natural Levain (Natural Leaven, Sourdough) Starter Culture

Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe, Gluten-Free 

Gluten-Free Sourdough Coffee Cake Recipe

Gluten-Free Sourdough Pancakes

Upcoming Free Event at People’s Co-Op:

Wednesday July 11, 6-7:30

Fermented Drinks: How to Make Refreshing, Probiotic Tonics

Beet Kvass

Learn to make kombucha tea, beet kvass, and a lacto-fermented fruit juice. These drinks are inexpensive, nutritious, and easy to make in your own kitchen!

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Kefir Sauerkraut

Makes about 1 quart

Dairy kefir grains can be used to make quick and consistently delicious cultured sauerkraut. The kefir grains act as a starter culture for the cabbage, the ‘kraut ferments for just 2-3 days, and the results are predictable: tangy, crunchy, and palate pleasing. To preserve the probiotic content, heat raw, cultured sauerkraut to no more than 110 degrees F. Serve as a garnish to savory dishes like baked beans, vegetable or lentil salads, roasted meats, or stir-fries. This recipe is inspired by Dom’s Kefirkraut recipe.

1 medium sized white cabbage

1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt

1 tablespoon dairy kefir grains, well rinsed (see cooks notes)

clean (well, spring, or filtered) water

Prepare a half-gallon (or one-gallon) wide-mouth glass jar by washing it in hot soapy water (use soap, not detergent). Remove any wilted or discolored outer leaves on the cabbage. Discard them. Peel off one crisp outer leaf. Trim it one-inch larger than the diameter of the jar. Set it aside to be used later as a cover for the sauerkraut.

Use a chef’s knife to half, core, and thinly slice the cabbage. Place one quarter of the sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with one quarter of the salt. Use a large wooden pestle, kraut pounder, or the flat end of a meat hammer to bruise the cabbage leaves. When the vegetables have been thoroughly bruised, add another quarter of the cabbage. Sprinkle with another quarter of the salt. Repeat the bruising process with the remaining cabbage and salt.

Place one half of the kefir grains in the bottom of the prepared jar. Add one half of the cabbage. Press down firmly with your pestle, pounder, or hammer. Evenly compact the cabbage within the jar. Add the remaining kefir grains. Then add the remaining cabbage. Again, press down to evenly compact the mixture. Cover the shredded cabbage with the reserved cabbage leaf. Tuck the edges of the leaf into the sides of the jar. Add a weight heavy enough to hold the cover leaf in place (see cooks notes). Add enough water to cover the top of the sauerkraut by one inch. Cover the top of the jar with a cloth or paper towel. Secure the cover tightly with a rubber band or string.

Store at room temperature (about 65-75 degrees F) until the kraut smells and tastes pleasingly tangy, about 2-3 days. Skim any foam that rises to the top during the fermentation period. If the liquid evaporates, add water to keep the sauerkraut covered by one inch.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. The taste of kefir kraut is stable for two weeks. After 2 weeks of storage it becomes increasingly, though pleasantly, tart. Eat within one month.

Cooks notes:

To prepare kefir grains for making sauerkraut rinse them in water until it runs clear. No traces of milk should remain.

If it fits through the opening in the sauerkraut jar, a pint-sized mason jar, filled with water, and capped tightly may be used as the weight. To use a stone as a weight for fermentation, select one that is non-porous, relatively heavy and flat, and fits easily through the mouth of your fermentation jar. Scrub the stone with hot soapy water. Then, sanitize it by dropping it into a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes (alternately, drop the stone into the silverware tray of the dishwasher and sanitize it with the next load of dishes).

Read more about Making Kefir

Read more about why Fermented Beverages are Homemade Probiotics and Multi-Vitamins

This recipe was shared on Fat-Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays,  Hearth & Soul Hop, Real Food Wednesday, and at the Probiotic Food Challenge.

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Last Saturday, a small group of friends and I headed up into the foothills of the coastal range in search of Chanterelles. I’ve enjoyed their earthy, nearly alium flavor in sautés, soups, and casseroles, and have been wanting to foraged for them. This was our groups’ first time mushrooming, and my brother Joe was along as the expert guide and  driver.

We passed through stands of freshly clear-cut and ‘re-prod’ Douglas Fir trees (dense stands of similarly aged trees, managed for maximum timber production). Chanterelles can be found in the darkness of dense re-prod (and the timber companies allow recreational foragers). But Joe kept on driving until we entered a more natural forest, recognized immediately as an “ecosystem” by the youngest member of our group, Hannah aged 6. The variety of plants, age of the trees, and presence of humans within the ecosystem were all remarkable in this – sworn to secret – place.

This stump is about 5-feet across.

It had been logged, but in the early part of the last century, judged by the enormous old-growth stumps, supporting new life as they decayed into forest floor. As we waded through a sea of knee-high ferns and leathery salal leaves we came across Chanterelles that had already been ethically harvested. Joe showed us where the mushrooms had been cut off, just above the hummus of the forest floor. He pointed out the small pieces of mushroom cap scattered about the plot. The spores, purposefully scattered by the forager, would seed future mushrooms. Joe explained that this was the same way he was shown: always cut, never pull from the ground and then re-seed by scattering a few small pieces of the cap in an advantageous area.

We spread out to hunt the little fungal gems. Soon there were shouts “over here” and “I’ve got some here”. They began to appear – around, under, and behind. Our driving, hiking, and hunting had paid off.

As we drove away, baskets of Chanterelles in tow, I was glad that we had left behind only scattered spores and a lightly traveled trail through the salal. Then, I remembered learning that wild blueberries are more productive when foragers regularly trample down the competing vegetation around them. Certainly there would be far fewer Chanterelles on this hillside if not for the foragers (past and present) who regularly, knowingly, and thankfully care for them.

These mushrooms have air-dried for 3 days and are ready to use.

This was shared on Fat TuesdayReal Food WednesdayHearth & Soul Hop, and Wildcrafting Wednesday

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