Baking with Carmie

I have been reminded during this holiday season when the kitchen is running on overdrive and the coconut flour is flying out the door faster than I can bring it in, to remember and be anchored by my roots. Remember the connection I have to my work, why my work has meaning, and why I am the person to bring it to the world. As I reflect, I think all my baking started with Carmie.

I may have written about her before as she is the one who taught me to bake.  She is my grandmother. I never would have actually called her Carmie, never to her face and never behind her back.  She was grandma… or more likely gramma. Carmie is what Pop called her and what her friends called her.

Carolyn Ruth Nagel Dailey was the best baker I knew.  She knew everything. How much a pinch was. How to brown butter. How to tell when things were done baking.  She and I would pick out recipes of items we wanted to try and then host tea parties with my friends and she would make all the food, with her little helper. She loved coconut, and would laugh when I told her repeatedly that it was worse than eating paper. (I have since changed my mind.) She made me viennese coffee balls when I learned to love coffee and and Pop and I would eat them all ourselves, since we were the only ones that liked coffee.

I only have a few of her favorite recipes these days, but she did give me her Joy of Cooking cookbook from the 1950s that I love to look through. Things were explained so differently back then and I feel closer to her when I read it.  But most of her recipes were snipped from magazines. My mom, my sister and I inherited her love of magazines. She would ALWAYS have a few stacks of the latest country magazines on her coffee table.  They were full of not only recipes, but gardening tips, country home decorating, and the best places to by Amish goods (all things she loved).

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I have been thinking about Carmie a lot recently. My Pop and last living grandparent passed away on November 15th with me by his side.  Pop was definitely overshadowed by grandma.  I come from a line of strong women and Carmie was strong. I felt very early on after her death that Pop was a new man.  He never stopped talking about her and how he loved her and couldn’t wait to meet her again in heaven, but for the first time in my life he was talking.  About everything. I remember picking him up from the airport after Christmas in Iowa the year grandma died and he talked non-stop the whole 45 minute ride back to his house.  Once we dropped him off, I looked over at Nick and asked him, “Who was that man and what did he do with Pop?” But I loved finally getting to know Pop these last two years.

The one thing I could never understand about Pop was his dislike of chocolate.  If there was one thing I definitely inherited from my father, it was the necessity of having chocolate on any item claiming to impersonate a dessert. And while Carmie was alive, Pop never set foot in the kitchen, at her request, except maybe to make himself some coffee or deliver meat from the grill. But after she passed, Pop and I found ourselves comparing recipes for crockpot meals and side dishes. He was even baking his favorites, zucchini bread and  bread pudding.

For better or worse, my family has often defined our time together with food.  It has shaped who I am (at one point it shaped my waistline.) The love and care my grandmother put into food was always evident. My mother is the same way when she entertains.  I try to be that way as well. When I think about this holiday and how much time I have and will spend in the kitchen baking for my family and for my customers… I am happy now to think about the love I put into what I make and how desperately I want you all to feel the love when you eat my food. I also want to educate about food and how it can be healing (and not shape your waistline).  That is the next phase of where I want to take my passion and Baked True North as a company.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for my family, what they have taught me, and the love they have given.  I am also thankful for my customers and how you all have allowed me to be a part of your special times.  I pray your homes are filled with healthy food and love this holiday season!

As always… Have a cookie,

Lauren

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Gluten Freeway

I am so excited to give you the release of my second Gluten Free-way YouTube episode!!!!!!

Gluten Free-Way Episode 2

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In this second episode I interview the “health queen” herself, Meredith Dykstra! Meredith and I met through my husband, Nick, when he used to work with her at a local functional nutrition health company. I always thought Nick was healthy until I met Meredith.  She has expanded my health world with healing foods as well as other mental and physical healing techniques.  She is a certified health coach and I do recommend you reach out to her if you have questions about anything she mentioned in the video interview. I do fully intend on bringing her back to dive more into the details for those who are interested in health science or health biology… which are probably just terms I made up to try to describe how much more of an educated conversation you have when she starts in!

Check out Meredith’s recipes on coachmeredith.blogspot.com, and I can honestly say you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for truly healing food that you hope will taste good!

We briefly discussed in our conversation how gluten-free eating is important, but that does not mean that you can overdo gluten-free food items.  I wanted to link back to my previous blog post on gluten-free verses healthy eating for a reference.

I also alluded to doing some bread making experiments which I haven’t shared with you all yet (other than a sneak peak on my Facebook page), but that blog post will be coming out soon as I finish up my experimentation! I think it will be worth the read.  I have been doing so much baking recently that you will have to stay tuned to see what other surprises I am baking up! For starters… my newest cookie the SNICKERDOODLE is now available for purchase at Good L’Oven in Ross Township and for order on my page! But come back soon for more new gluten-freedom!!!!!!

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Have a cookie!

Lauren

Gluten… what is it REALLY?

While I was waiting for my heavy cream latte to be prepared at a lovely coffee shop, I perused the goodies on the counter, because of my chronic sweet-tooth. Seeing what looked like an oat based bar, I asked the woman behind the counter (with very little hope) if she knew if that “healthy” looking bar was gluten-free.  In near disgust she assured me it was not, and told me nothing at the shop was gluten-free and I probably couldn’t even drink my latte.

So… maybe you follow Baked True North because you know Lauren or Nick… and maybe you like Baked True North goodies.  Maybe you eat gluten-free occasionally or even faithfully.  MAYBE you even know what gluten is!? I didn’t. I assumed gluten was bread, because that’s what it was described to me as by someone else who was not educated on the topic.

Google describes gluten as a mixture of two proteins, present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. Not likely to be found in a latte, but it sneaks into more things than wheat bread. The things that caught me the most off guard to discover had gluten were thick creamy soups and a lot of sauces, especially soy sauce.

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Above is a picture from my pre-gluten-free days, with a maple bourbon bacon doughnut in Key West on our honeymoon. I grew up eating mac & cheese, sandwiches and the croutons off my salad (not necessarily the vegetables). The two questions I get asked the most are, “why does it seem like this is all of a sudden a problem?” and “Jesus spoke a lot about bread… so how can it really be bad?” The simple answer is that gluten is not what it used to be. The more complicated answer is, Norman Borlaug won a Nobel peace prize creating a shorter wheat called dwarf wheat that produced a lot of grains on less acreage. This was all in the name of solving world hunger, so let’s not get upset at him right off the bat. Mark’s Daily Apple provides a much more in depth explanation if you’re interested.

In further summarizing Mark’s article and the research behind it, dwarf wheat was found to be less nutritious, based possibly on the increased yield per plant or the shorter roots, not allowing in as much nutrition. Certain gluten proteins that were not barely present in the older strains of wheat now are rampant and are causing a higher rate of gluten sensitivities to appear.  Additionally, bread and similar goodies used to be made by home-grinding wheat kernels, but now wheat is processed and potentially rancid by the time it gets to the local burger establishment to be delivered with your “meat” patty.

Hopefully that helped explain what gluten is and why bread is different today than it used to be.  I hope to share more information on gluten-freedom in future blog posts.  Please feel free to shout out questions you have or discoveries you’ve made in the comment section!

Stay delicious,

Lauren Marts