Cookies are great but so are crackers

 

Poma Bread – not quite a cracker, a little like Pita Bread. This is the last few of try number two at making crackers.

 The Gumbo File works so well as an emulsifier in the Molasses or Chocolate Cookies that it likely would help hold a crumbly cracker together too. If and when I set up my kitchen again here is a draft version of the cookie recipe as a potential cracker recipe – the exact amount of water/soup stock that would be needed would need to be determined by the texture of the dough.

Crackers are rolled out and cut into shape or pressed very thin before being baked. Some leavening with baking soda is traditional in the popular white flour square “Soda” crackers that are served with soups or topped with sliced cheese or other toppings. The gluten protein found in wheat flour and a few other flours forms a fibrous fabric like structure in a kneaded bread dough or cracker dough. Gluten free baking requires some other type of fiber to help form the fabric like structure that traps bubbles of air from the baking soda leavening long enough to be baked into an airy crisp texture. Whether or not Gumbo File could help serve the purpose would be an experiment. Gluten free crackers tend to be crisp and flat with only some airiness depending on the type of ingredients used.

Try number two is the same basic recipe as follows except I didn’t use any coconut oil or extra water. For liquid and added oil content I used a 13.5 ounce can of Organic Coconut Milk – full fat version, creamy instead of watery, 14 grams fat/2 grams carbohydrate per 1/3 cup. Try number two was baked in an oven set at 375’F for 20-30 minutes, Switch pans from top to bottom rack at 20 minutes bake time. Let cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator – they have a taste and texture similar to Pita Bread except are more the size and shape of crackers. Gluten free baked goods tend to fall apart more easily than gluten products and don’t hold air from leavening as well. When I try the recipe again I will go with the shorter bake time rather than attempting to get a crisp dry cracker – the recipe is not producing that quality but does make a moist square flat bread that is good with hummus bean dip or peanut butter type spreads.

Basic Cracker recipe draft

*Try number one worked basically. I had less coconut flour on hand and made up the difference with more of the other flours to equal a similar amount and I added about 3/4-1 cup of coconut oil and 1 1/2 cups water to make a cookie like dough. Making a single batch with half the ingredients would be easier to shape. I pressed rounds of dough flat in extra almond meal and they puffed slightly but remained moist inside with a skillet cooking. A longer slower baking might make them more cracker like instead of like a moist flat bread. Extra water in the dough to make a thinner batter would likely work for pancakes.

– the use of cardamom is somewhat of a pepper replacement and whether I used it or some other savory seasonings could be modified for a variety of cracker flavors if the basic recipe worked.

Dry ingredients, stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Emulsifier step- gently heat Pomegranate Extract or Juice to a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat and stir in the Gumbo File Powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract or Vegetarian Soup Stock or Water (If Pomegranate Extract is not used then add 4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice later – when the rest of the liquid is added. Baking Soda requires an acidic ingredient in the recipe which Pomegranate Extract provides.)
  • 6 Tablespoons Gumbo File Powder

Wet ingredients – in a another large bowl combine the thickened warm emulsifier liquid with the Brown Sugar and then stir in half of the remaining juice. Reserve part of the juice to add to the dry ingredients after first mixing in the emulsifier/sugar mixture. (This method is more like making a cake than a cookie, you combine small amounts of the liquid at a time for a smooth cake batter that is not over-stirred. In a kneaded bread dough or traditional Soda Cracker recipe the goal is to fold the dough repeatedly in somewhat regular motions and directions in order to ‘weave the fabric’ of the gluten structure. In gluten free baking without gluten the fiber network is not as regular and gentle handling and folding might support some leavening air bubbles but the traditional kneaded structure is not really possible. The goal with cake batter is to gently support a more delicate sponge like texture for air bubbles without a tough fabric dough formation.)

  • 2 1/2 cups Vegetarian Soup Stock or Water
  • (4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice if Pomegranate Extract is not used)

The dough should be moist and able to be rolled or spooned into a sticky round shape that doesn’t crumble – a soft playdough-like consistency.

Sprinkle a counter top with some brown rice flour and roll the dough into a thin 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick sheet and cut into squares – or roll spoonfuls of dough into rounds and then flatten on a surface that is sprinkled with brown rice flour or sprayed with oil using a flat glass or plate. Place the crackers on a baking sheet that is covered with oil or sprinkled with brown rice flour. Brush the surface of the crackers with a lightly salted water mixture. Bake at 400’F for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans at a half way point, or until crispy.

Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian it is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please seek an individual health care professional for the purpose of individualized health care guidance.

 

Make the mission more important than the leader or followers

When is a goal more important than the personal success of a leader or teammates? When it is about long term success. Current business practice has become more focused on quarterly profits to please shareholders and board members and it has cut into spending for employee development and retention and for research and development in too many industries.

The simple message (paraphrased) “Make the mission more important than the leader or followers” was a main take home point in a book I just read. when a book is important I like to read it in one sitting as my memory works kind of like an e-book reader, I want to upload the entire file in one batch.

I recently saw a one-liner question along the lines of if you were on a deserted island what is the one book that you would want to have with you (also paraphrased). I thought at the time, tough question, and I didn’t have an answer. All the books that I’ve read across my lifetime are all still sloshing around somewhat in my memory bank so I’m never deserted. They are like good friends I can browse whenever I want. After uploading this latest one into my memory bank I came up with an answer – it wouldn’t be the one to have on the island, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations would be. I have a copy but I also have it bookmarked on my laptop. It gives favorite quotes or passages from many great works from earlier eras which can be memory triggers for the larger work or just set the imagination to work filling in whatever may be generated by the words of wisdom.

The latest book is slightly dated for a business world type book as its references are to the 90’s. The concept of faxing is included. Having also recently read some more dated books and long papers about economics written by economic theorists from the 1800s, (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English), and 1950s, 60s and 70s (fee.org)  I will just point out that it is very interesting to see social differences change across time. Women weren’t really mentioned much at all in relation to the business world in the older economic papers and the mention of female workers in the book from the 90s would likely no longer be included if the book was edited for today’s market. Women are mentioned as bosses occasionally but secretaries and receptionist references are always female throughout the book. A section on empathy offers the example that if your receptionist seems in a bad mood find out why before sharing the fisher-person and mer-person joke that you had in mind.  – My point – times have changed a lot and for the better overall.

Back to the main point – this book I just read is the most valuable I’ve ever read. I might not pack it for a deserted island but I will never forget it and it made me feel like I should finally right that Last Will and Testament that I’ve never bothered writing, just so that I can leave the book to someone. Now you, my dear reader, do not have to wait until I kick the bucket in order to find out if I left the book to you. You can just go to a resale shop and look for a used copy of your own. It includes a lot of quotations too including many I was not familiar with along with a discussion of humor and how to improve your own ability to tell a joke. The tone is kind and gentle, self deprecating humor or persuasion tactics are more powerful is also a take home point that we all might benefit from in our business or personal lives.

Secrets of Power Persuasion; Everything You’ll Ever Need to Get Anything You’ll Ever Want, by Roger Dawson, 1992, Prentice Hall. It has also been reissued in paperback or can be picked up used online barnesandnoble.com. The author gained his business experience in the real estate industry but went on to become a popular speaker and author on the topic of sales and negotiating. The book is written fairly open ended though rather than being directed only to salespeople or business executives. Examples include common parenting and relationship issues as well as sales and other negotiating issues a business person might run into and the tactics are useful for the buyer as well as the seller. No one wants to walk off the car lot with a car they didn’t want or a timeshare week in a vacation resort that they couldn’t afford.

The ideas for helping to learn other’s motivations can also be helpful for learning to recognize your own. One example has fast-forwarded into modern news –  “a Donald Trump” type person is paired opposite of “a Mother Theresa” type person as examples of people at the extremes of “self-centered versus externally centered” motivations. Recognize what motivates someone to help identify what might motivated them to make a purchase or other decision. The self-centered motivated individual looks at how things benefit themselves versus the externally motivated person looks at how things would benefit others:- “The self versus external sorting continuum” “Narcissists – Persuaded by how it affects them+ and  “Martyrs – Persuaded by how it affects others“. (page 154, Secrets of Power Persuasion)

Tips for working for a narcissist boss: (How to Work for a Narcissistic Boss, hbr.org)

It can be difficult to recognize that extreme narcissism is not typical behavior if you grew up with it in the family (Toxic Parents or Emotionally Immature parents) and for an empathy- external oriented person, it can lead to adult relationships that are at risk for not recognizing the need for safe boundaries against the self-oriented demands of a narcissist. (The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist, elephantjournal)

The techniques in the book include many strategies that I’ve read about in psychology and other business books, as well as many personal strategies of the author’s that may have been developed from other business strategists that I’m not familiar with or are clearly his own tips learned from his experiences. The style of teaching the material is easy to follow and has helpful summary point lists.

A sales pitch for the book, or self-deprecating humor example from the author’s past, is from the section on how-to-tips for remembering people’s names:

‘Similarly, there is no easy way to remember names. As my high school teacher used to say, “Don’t waste any time looking for an easier way to do this. If there were an easier way, Roger would’ve found it years ago.”‘ – Secrets of Power Persuasion, page 217.

Why would a dietitian care about power persuasion techniques? Because it is actually fairly difficult to try to encourage change in personal habits. The author includes as an example in one area his own weight loss plan which was effective for him. It is valid but time and additional research has modified one dietary point – focusing exclusively on cutting fat calories may not be as helpful as working to reduce simple carbohydrate calories as well, either from sugar or refined grains and white potato products. The more processed a food the quicker it can turn into blood sugar which can increase insulin which can increase fat storage which can be made from calories from fat, carbohydrates or alcohol, and as a double whammy, increased insulin levels can cause an increase in appetite leading to more eating.

Regarding something I saw recently regarding a weight loss fad – gluten free products as currently marketed are often based on very refined starches and are often lower in fiber and nutrients than a whole grain item. I do not recommend gluten free diets for anyone who is not gluten intolerant or for weight loss purposes. It is not an easy diet to follow for those who truly need to stringently exclude all gluten for autoimmune reasons and it is not a joke for them either. The problem can be life threatening and cause long term symptoms in digestion and in other areas of life. People with thyroid problems might benefit from trying gluten free diets as the protein chemically is similar in shape to the thyroid hormone and autoimmune thyroid problems may have something to due with autoimmune gluten reactions for some people. If interested seek a qualified nutritionist or Registered Dietitian to help create a balanced diet. I personally use whole grain rice, quinoa and amaranth and other gluten free whole grains rather than buy many commercially available gluten free products. In addition to being low fiber they often include corn which I have found also affects my own autoimmune symptoms.

So why would a dietitian care about persuasion tactics – because pomegranate peel is not on anyone’s menu plan – yet, that I know of, except for my own and I find it amazing. The blueberry juice did make it more palatable as a diluted beverage but adding a chaser of fennel seeds as a follow up snack helped even more. I tend to eat about a teaspoon of them after most meals now as they seem to help with digestion. After trying the pomegranate extract as a beverage when I made a fresh batch (I had stopped trying it in quantity as it is very acidic) I had a couple teaspoons worth of the fennel seeds after trying the blueberry/pomegranate mixture and it helped. Why would I bother trying it in quantity – because it has an amazing mood boosting effect and helps the numbness in my fingertips problem more when I use more of it rather than only a few spoonfuls added to my bowl of soup.

Pomegranate seeds and the fennel seeds are quite crunchy. I’ve had a couple people mention they can’t chew such crunchy things without pain – that may be a sign of inflammation throughout the body rather than tooth or jaw trouble. During the worst of my inflammatory years I also developed pain with chewing my favorite crunchy things like raw carrots, apples, and my favorite whole grain rice cakes which are more dense then the more commonly available type.

One learns by trying – a motto of mine from my childhood. I don’t know where I heard it or if I just made it my own slogan. Maybe it is a modification of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is one my mother would say.

The idea of making a Last Will and Testament to leave the book to someone is kind of a joke – the book cost me ten cents. The pomegranate peel extract probably cost me even less figuring people buy the fruit for the juicy seeds, but information has more value than dollars alone. In the recipe post I included a lot of detailed measurements about yield for food industry and dietitian type people to show the percentage that is currently being thrown away when instead it might be able to be made into a valuable health boosting product.

So what is the mission that is more important than the leader or followers – to me – effective health care that supports a more sustainable population. Whether you believe the Earth is 6000 years old or millions, the more important question currently seems to me whether we want humans and other species to still be around 6000 years from now.

The paraphrase I used in the title of this post is from the last chapter in the book (pp 276-289) and the example given is a story about a team that reached the top of Mount Everest – one team  member that is but the team rejoiced together via audio and the team got the credit – no one person is going to reach the top of most any mountain all by themselves. I haven’t climbed a mountain or seen Mount Everest but I have seen Mount McKinley and met a wonderful Japanese couple at the base. My family were camping near their camp and one night they invited us all to join them and my main memory from this childhood adventure was the dried seaweed they shared with us. It was like paper but you could eat it – I was enchanted. And all of us enjoyed the wild berries we could pick in the wilderness area. Our planet is a treasure worth far more than dollars.

A sustainable vision of a future Hawaii is described in an article suggesting we need more imagination to help guide us towards a peaceful and sustainable future: We Need Radical Imagination, Wake Up World.

Imagination is a critical part of creativity and innovation for any new product development whether in the area of healthcare and diet or sustainable agriculture and infrastructure.

A discussion of how leadership can help foster creativity in a team – a main point is to give it space to grow naturally rather than demands and time limits: How to Nourish Your Team’s Creativity. hbr.org

A book I mentioned in a recent post reinforces some of the concepts in Roger Dawson’s book but with more recent business examples:

For more information on thinking creatively and effectively working towards a better solution to difficult decisions rather than feeling forced to choose one of two less preferred choices I recommend the book Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, by Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin (2017, HBR) (hbr.org/Creating Great Choices)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

 

 

Orange Buckwheat Cake tastes a little like rainbows

This is a quick bread with ratios similar to a rich muffin or cake like brownie. Oat flour may have traces of gluten but it helps reduce the crumbliness of buckwheat, millet and corn flour products.
  • I have been focusing on developing recipes that use less commonly used ingredients that are rich in phospholipids and other nutrients. Rotating in more unusual ingredients into the weekly or monthly diet adds trace nutrients. Coconut and walnuts add variety to the types of fats in the diet. The saturated and mono-unsaturated fats benefit the diet by improving the ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids but without having to add animal based fats. Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found more in oily seeds, while olive oil has a higher ratio of mono-unsaturated fats and coconut is rich in saturated fats. Walnuts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids to the point that excessive daily use could lead to problems with blood clotting and bruising easily.
  • The fat content of a meal also is needed for the stomach to tell the brain that the meal was satisfying and that eating could stop.
    Variety and moderation are the essential factor to a healthy diet. Using a variety of whole food ingredients in the daily diet boosts intake of trace nutrients and other phytochemicals. Many important antioxidants are also the actual pigment colors in the plant.
  • Taste a Rainbow” of fruits and vegetables is a campaign that some school lunch programs have embraced. The changes in the school lunch program had been anticipated since 2009. Registered Dietitians in larger school districts have been revamping menus since then. Student participation has been encouraged with sampling days where new vegetables or other foods are available for everyone to try even if they brought a sack lunch.
  • Produce requirements have doubled from requiring that 1 and 1/2 servings of fruit and vegetables be offered per meal to 2 servings of vegetables and one of fruit (roughly- the numbers are listed in cups).
  • The following article adds that “French Fries” that are served in school cafeterias have been baked for years and frequently are sweet potato fries. According to the following article in the magazine, Today’s Dietitian, deep fryers are not generally found in school kitchens. :  [New Standards Unveiled for School Lunches – Soon Kids Will Be Eating More Fruits, Veggies, and Whole Grains, by Lori Zanteson,  todaysdietitian Vol,. 14 No. 5, p 14]
Trial Three showing the interior texture. I ran out of frosting.

Orange Buckwheat CakeTrial 1
Makes one 8 inch by 8 inch pan, bake at 350’F for about 35-40 minutes
***This combo is good but a little dry and stringy. Commercially purchased Coconut Pecan Frosting was the perfect finish which led to Trial Two with raisins and walnut additions.

1 cup Buckwheat Flour
1/2 cup Oat Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Coconut Flakes
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Eggs
1/2 stick/ 4 Tbs Butter melted or 1/2 cup Oil
1/2 tsp Orange Oil Extract
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Apricot Nectar or Orange Juice

Trial one and two = lots of cake to eat.

Orange Buckwheat Cake – Trial Two – I’m aiming for a variation of Carrot Cake. the coconut by itself stands out as an odd stringy texture that suddenly needs to be chewed more than the rest of the quick bread. When carrots and coconut are used with raisins or chopped nuts the combined textures and shapes blend into a mixture that makes chewing expected and more natural.

1.  Let soak while gathering the other ingredients:    Trial Three – the raisins were a little odd but the level of moistness was better.)

5.5 oz can Apricot Nectar                             2/3 cup Orange Juice

1/2 cup Golden Raisins                                 1/2 cup Coconut Flakes

1/2 cup Coconut Flakes                               1 cup chopped Walnuts or Pecans

1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts

2. Whisk Dry Ingredients together:

1 cup Buckwheat Flour                               3/4 cup Buckwheat Flour

1.2 cup Oat Flour                                       3/4 cup Oat Flour

1/2 cup Sugar                                             3/4 cup Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt                                                  1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder                             1/2 tsp Baking Soda

3. Beat the eggs and oil and then add to the flour along with the soaking fruit and nut mix.

2 Eggs                                                        2 Eggs

1/2 cup Oil                                                  1/2 cup Oil

1/2 tsp Orange Oil Extract                           1/2 tsp Orange Oil Extract

1 tsp Vanilla Extract                                     1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Bake King cake pans with sliders. eBay

4. Bake in a 8 in by 8 in square pan for 45 minutes or  in two 9 inch round cake pans for about 35 minutes or when they pass the clean knife blade test and the center springs up lightly when pressed.

*** I put Trial Three in two cake pans. The batter is excessive for one pan but a little short for two. Trial Four, eventually, will test a larger batch size of Trial Three to better fill two cake pans with no other modifications to the ratios or ingredients. It’s good just short and dense.

My mother used the Bake King cake pans with a center slider. Buttering or oiling the pan and then sprinkling that with flour is the traditional method for improving the chance of getting the cake out of the pan unbroken.

Some bakers trim the edges and flatten one layer before frosting.

PS – The orange extract is good with the strong flavor of the buckwheat but just the vanilla would probably also be good. I  used Apricot Nectar in Trial One and Two because it is less acidic than orange juice. If using orange juice substitute 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda for the 1 1/2 teaspoons of Baking Powder. The Baking Powder has an acidic component that would be unnecessary if Lemon Juice, Buttermilk or Orange Juice are used in the recipe.

PPS: The orange juice plus baking soda worked very well in Trial Three.

PPPS: This type of frosting is traditionally used on German Chocolate Cake and only the top of the layers are frosted. The crisp edges would not be trimmed away when using Coconut Pecan Icing.

  • Ovenex Cake Pans with Sliders -[link] a brand that seems comparable to Bake King. The center of the cake pans have a slider attached that cuts the cake loose from the bottom of the pan. The center of Trial Two stayed behind as I removed the cake from the square pan.