Gluten Free Goldfish & Urban Gardening

Only love can get me into the kitchen at 8 a.m. to try my hand at Gluten Free Goldfish; and why I should get on this gluten free kick is beyond me.  No one in the family is gluten intolerant and I’m not that big of a health nut – yet. Remember the other day when we were discussing Kraft Mac & Cheese.  How we hate to feed it to our kids but they absolutely love it?  Same thing with Goldfish – kids love them but there’s a list of ingredients a mile long on that bag.  Last weekend when grandson Jacob was here we had to make a pit stop at the grocery store, and there as we walked in the front door, was this big display with Goldfish – BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!  Who can resist?  Not a wannabe thrifty KiKi and a hungry six year old.  So yesterday I did an internet search on “healthy” Goldfish recipes and up popped this gluten free version from Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom.  It sounded promising except for one thing – what in the dickens is xanthan gum?  Again to the internet only to find it is a binder derived from fermented corn polysaccharides or some such.  Isn’t that defeating the purpose?  My research led me to experiment with flax seed meal.  I know that in baking muffins sometimes you can eliminate some of the fat by substituting flax seed.  Well I guess we would just have to see.  Here we go:

Here’s my handy little all purpose grinder.  It belonged to the Prince before I met him and he used it as a coffee grinder.  I have appropriated it as my very own.  In case you are not aware flax seed and most whole grains contain an incredible amount of oil within.  This is the reason you will not find true whole grain flour sitting on your grocery shelf.  The fat quickly goes rancid (within a day or so, I think) and becomes unhealthy to consume.  Any freshly ground whole grains or even the grains themselves should be stored in the refrigerator at least and preferably the freezer to preserve their freshness.  However did you live without this knowledge?

The recipe did not state if the butter should be softened but I assumed it would be so.  Into the microwave on low power to whip it into shape – however I don’t think I softened it quite enough.  Once I fired up the mixer it didn’t seem to want to come together.  Another mistake I may have made was in not letting the flax-seed meal mix with the milk long enough.  It’s supposed to absorb the liquid and become gummy but I did not notice that to be the case.Some other things I changed were the addition of a couple of tablespoons of shake cheese (Kraft-type canned Parmesan for the uninitiated), and a couple of dashes each of garlic powder and onion powder.  Also a pinch of paprika for a little color.

Next time I believe I will grate the cheese on the small holes.  Here’s what it looked like once I mixed it up.

I then formed it into a ball.  You’ll have to take my word for this as I am not ambidextrous enough to hold a ball of greasy dough in one hand and click the button with another greasy hand.  My camera might faint.  In the original recipe it states to grease the surface with oil before rolling out, although the author states she used cornstarch instead.  I opted for canola spray onto a plastic pastry mat.  Disastrous in the extreme!  This dough is more finicky than any pastry dough I have ever worked with.  I’ve also come to realize that pastry dough is one of my shortcomings.  It’s the patience thing again -it just really ticks me off when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to!  Next time I will try the cornstarch directly on my granite countertop and see how that does.  Trust me there will be a next time – these are that good.  You can see here how stuck and gloppy everything is.

And here they are all lined up in their preciousness!  I shouldn’t call them goldfish – they are really goldwhales because my cutter is rather large.  I also did some doggie bones just for the heck of it.  Maybe I will create a new snack called “Fish & Bones” or just “Fishbones” and become famous.  Somehow I am doubting that.
Don’t forget to prick the little critters with a fork. They won’t scream too much.  I did not grease the pan and on the second batch I used parchment paper.  Either works well.  Into a 400° oven for 10 minutes or so.  If you’re doing two pans be sure to rotate top to bottom halfway through baking.  Don’t brown too much or they will become bitter.  Also they will crisp up after they cool.  I wasn’t able to roll out the dough as thin as it should have been so it look mine a few minutes more.  And here they are:

Somehow they don’t look like Pepperidge Farm do they?  And here they are all packaged up for Jacob’s back to school snack.  The Prince may have felt slighted since I only saved him the ugly little left-over bits.  I’ve promised him his own little pack soon! I dropped them off while he was in school so I haven’t received the verdict yet.

Off to another topic – gardening.  I was fooling around with my camera the other day and just took some random pictures:

Here’s my cute little basil plant that I bought at the grocery store. It cost me $3.99 but now I don’t have to pay $2.99 per pack for basil every time I want a caprese salad.  I didn’t plant a garden this year because I thought we might be moving up to our mountain house.  My green thumb is punching me in the eye so last time I was at the garden center I just had to buy a couple of plants:  a tomato and some Anaheim chile peppers.  It might be a little late but I will give it a shot.  Also shown here is my new Meyer lemon tree.  Number One Ya-Ya Cathy (not me, other Cathy) has a brother who lives in Florida and he was kind enough to bring this for me.  They don’t get too big and you can bring them in when it gets cold.

What I’m getting around to here is that I have decided I am going to add a new page entitled “What’s in Your Garden?”  You know, sort of like that Capital One commercial?  There are so many things you can grow in a window sill or sunny deck that will increase your agricultural footprint.  Sort of like the opposite of carbon footprint.  I’ll get into the particulars later.  Just giving you a heads up in case you come across the word “cow manure” and you think I’ve gone crazy with some recipe.  Happy Goldfish Tummy!

Gluten Free Goldfish Crackers 

Based on Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom
4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 Tbs. Butter Softened
2 Tbs. Grated Parmesan
3/4 c. Cornstarch
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum or 1 tsp Flax Seed Meal
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. Paprika
2 Tbs. Milk
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.  If using soak flax meal in milk. Let sit 10-12 minutes. Combine all the ingredients, except the milk, in a medium size-bowl. Mix until the mixture resembles a fine crumb. Add the milk and beat well. Depending on your exact ratios you might have to add a small amount of additional milk.

On a lightly greased surface or sprinkle the surface with cornstarch instead, pat or roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 3/4 inch squares or use a cookie cutter. Prick the tops of the crackers with a fork and sprinkle with salt.

Bake on the prepared baking
sheet until golden brown and crisp, approximately 10 minutes The crackers will be light and crispy, although barely browning at the edges. The bottom of the crackers will have a bit more color. Crackers will crisp as they cool. Store in an airtight container.

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