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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The Flour Series: Coffee Flour

First up on The Flour Series is…. Coffee Flour!

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What is it?

Coffee Flour is a new gluten-free flour option making its way into mainstream grocery stores as we speak.

As the Trader Joe’s package above states, coffee flour is made from dried and then ground coffee cherry husks and skins. One benefit of this is that this part of the coffee plant is usually thrown away and this new use is allowing the coffee industry to produce less waste, #wasteless!

Although I assumed the flour would have that fantastic caffeine-inducing smell to it by which coffee reels me in, it does not. The best way to describe the taste of this flour is somewhere between date and raisin. Not what you would expect.

The caffeine content is definitely present but probably won’t give you as much of a kick as you hoped. Claims are that it has about 60mg of caffeine per tablespoon, which sounds like a lot, but most recipes have you replacing less than a quarter cup of flour with coffee flour (or 10-15% substitution) because of the strong flavor. So spread that 240mg of caffeine over an entire pan of brownies and (unless your intent is to eat the entire pan) you are getting a pretty minimal amount.

Benefits of coffee flour include 3x more iron than spinach, 5x more fiber than whole grain wheat flour, 38% more antioxidants than pomegranate, 2x more potassium than bananas, 3x more protein than kale and 84% less fat than coconut flour.       Dude.

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One thing to be aware of is that none of the coffee flours I have seen claim to be organic. Coffee is one of the most chemically-treated crops in the world. So regardless of whether you are a strict organic consumer or not, this is a potential concern and you might not want to add this to every dish your making until more research is available.

What do you do with it?

Because of the harsh, somewhat bitter taste of the flour, most recipes you find on-line are for brownies or something with a lot of chcolate and sugar to help balance the flavor. Check out the photo above and see the coffee flour package has a brownie recipe on the back.

For the sheer irony of it, I am looking for a good coffee cake recipe to try using the coffee flour. Epicurious.com has some good options I’m considering since I don’t have a tried and true coffee cake recipe of my own yet.

Some resources say you can add this flour to other things like smoothies and sauces, but I haven’t tested that personally.

What does BTN do with it?

Well… I’ve tried a number of recipes, some better than others. Apparently the first round of coffee flour cookies I tried only got published in my Instastories on Instagram… Meaning those photos are gone from posterity. But my initial reaction was that they were very date-y and bitter and I did not want to double up the sugar to make then taste like a cookie.

So my next experiment was using the flour to make a morning bar, something you would expect to be more earthy, like trail mix. I did a number of trials trying to get a good bar that people would like… And still the reaction I got from what I consider my “mainstream feedback” was that they were still too earthy.

With that said, Nick and I really enjoyed them based on our palate. And even though I won’t be adding them to my order forms, look for a follow up post with the recipe coming soon!

One option I did really like was the Mocha Protein Cookies! The addition of a stevia-sweetened protein powder actually made the cookie quite delicious! I will be adding that to my offerings this month! It is packed with protein,  low on sugar, includes all the coffee flour benefits, and pretty good for a morning snack!

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I hope this helps to answer your questions and assumptions on coffee flour! I had a blast testing it this last month and I’ll keep you all in the loop as I continue to understand it’s benefits.

Have a cookie,

Lauren

January Resolutions?

December 31st isn’t the only time to set resolutions.  I actually find it is usually the worst time for me to set resolutions, because I am putting so much pressure on starting the New Year right that I blow it and can’t mentally recover for months. So this year, I have eased into resolutions.

In early January I created a road map for my business with goals for each month, so I could focus each month of doing something better or different instead of making a list of all the things I wanted to fix instantly. Similarly, Nick and I broke our year up into quadrants for personal development, allowing each quarter of the year to be focused on something specifically, including books, learning, and actions.

So, even though I was behind in reading my various newsletters, I pulled up the December issue of Celebrate Gluten-Free Magazine and noticed an article titled Gluten-Free Resolutions. The author’s three resolutions, in summary, are 1) convert a family recipe to gluten-free at each holiday, 2) get involved with the gluten-free community, and 3) cook more.

It got me to thinking how much those resolutions jived with my goals, both personal and business. One of my BTN big picture goals is to create a community of people centered around both gluten-free education and food.  Food in-general is known to bring people together, but specifically allowing gluten-free food to do the same in our community, north of Pittsburgh… and HERE in this little virtual space I’ve created.

So maybe it’s cheating to steal other people’s resolutions, but I also really liked the first one about converting family recipes and it has inspired me. Just being honest… we don’t have very many “family recipes”, and even less family recipes that are baked goods.  One of those was the peanut butter chocolate kiss cookie… which I did end up making gluten-free for this Christmas! Then in anticipation of Valentines day and spring, I have remade the sugar cookie, and I suppose every family has some tried and true sugar cookie recipe.

So be on the look out for future holidays where I reveal some family or simply traditional recipes that we have remade, gluten-freedom style. What old family recipes can you add your own twist too this year? Comment below and share with the community! I’ll try not to steal any of your ideas!

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Have a cookie,

Lauren Marts

Community of Educated Eaters

One of my personal goals as a business owner, beyond bringing you delicious gluten-free goodies for purchase, is to build community. That is something personally I have desired for years, but has become part of my Baked True North vision now…

To create a community of educated eaters.

So, I am embarking on a new side of my blogger-hood and business ownership… A YouTube channel! It is all just a lot of fun, in effort to bring the local gluten-free community together. It is not an opinion video, not of me telling you what I think… But rather sharing experiences of others in order to learn and come together. And as a brain-child, it was born…
Baked True North’s Gluten Free-Way: a “carpool karaoke” type interview with the gluten-free community.

Gluten Free-Way YouTube Channel – Episode 1

So check out the link above… It is the very special of all guests to kick off the channel. The one, the only…

Nicholas Donald Marts!

That’s my husband! So, please enjoy the show and share with your friends! Also, if you have any specific questions for Nick or questions you’d like to hear me ask future guests, comment on this post!

Have a cookie,

Lauren Marts

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