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The Sawdust Sandwich

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We here in Lathropworld have embarked on an experiment.


We’ve talked for a few years about trying a gluten-free diet–some say it reduces the number and severity of migraines, which would be great for Jenni; they also claim it helps reduce the problems suffered by those with eczema, like Patrick; others claim it’s simply a healthier way to live, because we weren’t designed to digest the long strands of gluten.


We haven’t in the past because of the complications: finding alternatives and replacements for some of those staples around here–pasta, chips and crackers, and, most importantly, bread.


But we committed to the idea. I started doing what I do best with these things and studied and planned. And since I do the cooking and grocery shopping, I could control what comes into the house and is available for everyone to eat. And with buy-in from everyone, I’d proceed.


So we’re finishing day three of the extravaganza known as the Lathropworld Grand Gluten-Free Experiment (of Doom–everything sounds better with “of Doom” after it).


There have been some hits thus far: the sweet potato hash browns last night were a huge hit with Jenni and Hannah, so much so that I was told independently by each that I need to make those every night. I won’t, but it’s a nice thought.

sweet potato hash browns


I’ll admit that those turned out very well.


And other things have worked just fine and without incident: chili on New Year’s Day, me eating more than the daily recommendation of fruit and vegetables so far for two days straight, and even tonight’s scalloped potatoes with ham featuring my first ever wheat-free roux. I’ve got other plans for new things I haven’t made before, or have made and wasn’t really received well by the family at the time: quinoa, spaghetti squash, and even homemade baked beans.


I’ve found great crackers that Jenni really likes, and even tonight had Patrick say that he thought the gluten-free pasta I cooked up for him was really good.


However, it’s the bread thing that has me a bit stumped. I tried making a loaf of Bob’s Red Mill sandwich white in the bread machine, and it turned out okay, if you were to eat it immediately upon cooling. The next day or even two later, and it rapidly lost any qualities it had initially. I’ve got another boxed mix to try, and will start building up the widely varied products necessary to replace flour so that I can try some standard baking.


So I also decided to try some store-bought gluten-free breads. Today’s experiment was something that I’m sure barely qualifies as bread in some cultures where bread is nothing more than a flat rock or perhaps some bark from an old tree. It’s dry and dense straight out of the bag, much like the stone tablets which carried the text of the Ten Commandments, and when toasted, it seemed to revert to its preferred powdered state. All of which would be a shame if it didn’t taste like sawdust, too. What is a shame is that each of these failed experiments costs us $5…I know. I shouldn’t complain. Once I find a good one, that’ll be it and the experiment will be over. But still, that’s a hell of a long way from the $1.50-$2 I pay for a loaf of Cub bread. It just makes me wonder: does xanthan gum, potato starch, and brown rice flour really cost that much more than wheat flour, or is someone just making you pay for the privilege of having different dietary needs than the rest of the world?


When I got to work, I started researching gluten-free breads. I’m not sure why I didn’t do this in the first place, except that crowd-sourcing my diet may not be the brightest idea ever. But I found multiple references to one brand of bread that everyone says is great–Udi’s Gluten Free. So tonight I got a loaf of the whole grain. It’s thawing now, so we’ll see how it goes in the morning. But if it even vaguely resembles a high school shop project when I try a piece, I’m going to have to hurt someone.


I’ll take your suggestions either in the comments section or via e-mail. Have at it, kids! This weekend, I’m planning a run to the hippie-food store…er, co-op…so will want to have some more ideas for this grand experiment.


More to come, I’m sure.


See you tomorrow.