Archive for May, 2014

Gluten Free Graham Crackers
May 22, 2014

GF Graham crackers

One of my favorite things in the world are s’mores.  I don’t even need a campfire.  Just give me a graham cracker, fat marshmallow, and a square of chocolate and I’ll take it to the microwave or even the fireplace or a hot plate.  In the microwave you can watch the marshmallow grow to 10x the size, or in the fire you can catch them on fire and blow them out just as they get singed to your personal preference.  And then ooh, the hot marshmallow melting the chocolate ever so slightly.  Smoosh them between two graham crackers and let the crumbs fly and cover your face with gooey, sticky marshmallowy chocolately goodness.  Ahhh….

But not everyone can enjoy this experience that appeals to all of your senses.  I was reminiscing about s’mores recently to a gluten sensitive friend and realized how sad it is she can’t enjoy them.  So, just as I converted my Molasses Cookies to gluten free, I figured I could try my hand at creating a gluten free graham cracker.  This is the result and I’m quite pleased!  And of course, these can be crushed up and substituted for any graham cracker pie crust too!

Gluten Free Graham Crackers

300 g Gluten Free Flour (equal parts or 100 g each: brown rice flour, tapioca flour/starch, sorghum flour)
51 g sweet rice flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum (or 1/2 tsp xanthan gum and 1/4 tsp guar gum if you have it)
1.5 tsp cinnamon (or less if you want it less cinnamon flavor)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
8 Tbsp butter cut (still cold from refrigerator)
3 Tbsp cold water
3 Tbsp honey (or more if you want more honey flavor)
3 Tbsp molasses (or less if you want less molasses flavor)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together flours.  Then mix in xanthan gum, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Then mix in sugar.  Cut in butter 1/2 Tbsp at a time and mix on high for several minutes until the mixture resembles sand or cornmeal.  Stir in water, honey, molasses, and vanilla.  Mix until dough forms one ball.  Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325º.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and set aside.

Lightly dust another piece of parchment paper or a clean counter surface with sweet rice flour.  Once dough ball has chilled, divide in half and put half back in the fridge.  Roll out the dough to 1/8″ thick.  Use a pizza cutter or pastry cutter to cut out a large rectangle, dividing into smaller squares or rectangles for the crackers.  Score the  crackers in half and use a plastic fork to create desired designs.

Transfer dough crackers to cookie sheet, keeping small distance between each.  They will not spread, but will stick together if touching.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the sheet at the halfway point to help bake evenly. Once crackers are lightly browned and begin to feel firm to the touch, remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for a couple minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  They will continue to harden as they cool.

Notes:
* Just before baking, you can lightly dust the crackers with cinnamon and sugar, if desired.
* It is not necessary to cut them into boring rectangle crackers.  Feel free to use any cookie cutter you have handy.
* Add or subtract cinnamon or molasses according to taste.  Note, that you may need to add more water (or honey) one tablespoon at a time to achieve the desired dough consistency if you use less molasses.

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Cedars of Lebanon Tri 2014
May 21, 2014

Last weekend was my 4th time to race the Cedars of Lebanon sprint triathlon.  It’s such a short race (at least the past couple years), that I just race as hard and as fast as I can and worry about the pain after.  This year, however the weather was unusual.

It  was quite chilly for this race, sub-50 degrees, which is less than optimal in wet sleeveless spandex. I was really worried because I just wasn’t sure how I’d deal with the cold and if I’d want extra clothes or not. It’s such a short race, surely I could suck it up for the hour I was out there, but then again if my hands or arms got too chilled, would it affect my performance? Would I have trouble braking or shifting, or putting on my shoes or helmet? Typically at a sprint I try to ride as “naked” as possible. Take off any extraneous stuff off my bike (bento, tool kit, etc) and have my transition area as neat and minimal as possible. But I went ahead and put a jacket (half-zipped up because cold fingers are useless on zippers), and a fleece pullover for choices, and included socks in transition (I typically go sockless for a sprint both on bike and run). I did go ahead and put toe covers on my bike shoes thank goodness.

Before the race, I did get a quick lap in on the bike, to warm up and go through my gears and check bike course for hazards. I didn’t take the time to warm up the run, but that didn’t really make a difference. I also DID NOT warm up on the swim, when it’s that cold I do not risk getting wet and cold waiting for swim start. Plus, the water temp was 71, which is balmy for me (compared to my practice pool).  They decided it was “wetsuit legal” and they would have “wetsuit strippers.” I was amused to see people actually wore wetsuits for the 200 meter swim! The swim was the warmest part of the race, but hey to each their own.

I felt better on this swim than in the past. Because it’s so short, I tend to go anaerobic pretty quickly and struggle. But was seeded early enough that I was with people of my own pace, and didn’t have to pass people or bunch up at the wall. But my swim time was a few seconds slower than last year.  Darnit!  But according to the results I was 1st in my age group on the swim! That NEVER happens.

I put on socks in T1 and ran with them (bike shoes clipped to my bike) to the mount line. I’m working on faster transition times and this is part of it. I’ve had a little trouble with getting used to the new bike and the mount/dismount with shoes on bike, but I was ok for this race. As I suspected I did not need a jacket, adrenaline was pumping and didn’t make my arms/shoulders too cold.

Bike was great, first lap was fine, passed people. Second lap is always a cluster as I catch up with the later seeded people on their first lap. There’s a short stretch on a main highway and people were out in the road (holding up traffic) rather than on the generous shoulder. Made it really hard to pass them as I was going through. But it felt great, I passed a lot on the bike and barely got passed myself, that’s a first for this race. The bike has been my weakness and I’m starting to feel much better this year. I was faster than last year and second in age group on the bike split!

Quick transition to the run, leaving on my socks. That’s when I realized my feet were numb.  It felt like I had a golf ball in my shoe, I honestly thought something was in my shoe.  But almost everyone else I talked to said the same thing, so I’m glad it wasn’t just me.  I tried to push on the run as hard as I could, but I might have been still a little foggy from the cold. Looks like my run was a lot slower than last year.  Guess I was struggling, either from the cold, or just getting used to running after a really hard bike.

But I still pulled off a 2:22 PR over last year, with slower swim and run, but much faster bike and transitions. That’s the thing about triathlon, every single time counts! And got 2nd AG again.  Dang, these women keep getting faster too!

And the best part was getting to one of my really good friends, who’s become an amazing runner, race her first triathlon!  I’m so excited to have a new friend to share my love of multi-sport.  I’m also really glad she’s not in my age group, because she’s going to be a serious force to reckon with!