Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Gluten Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Author: Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Publication: Thomas Dunne Books

Publication Date: October 21, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1250018311

My Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5 = I Like It

Summary Statement: Feeling Hopeful

Missing out on great bread has been one of the things that's the worst about living gluten-free which I did under doctor's orders for medical reasons. I've found a box mix for a GF sandwich bread that I doctored up but it's not the same as the artisan type breads with thick crusts, deep flavor and big air pockets. Prior to finding out I needed to stop eating gluten I enjoyed baking from scratch for over 20 years, including bread and artisanal bread using cast iron dutch ovens (I bought four to use all at once)! Learning GF baking is another whole project rife with challenges. Many of the qualities we want from GF baked goods are not possible without gluten.

I have high hopes for this book but after baking two loaves I rate this book 4 stars.

First I don't like the black and white photos throughout, I would prefer color. Even at its price for hardcover I think $5 or even $10 more would be worth it. I own or see other cookbooks in the under $40 range that are prolifically filled with full color images. The black backgrounds in those images mean the images do not pop and they are not visually appealing in any way. See: Weber's Way To Grill which has step by step full color photos on every page. There is a center section of color images but that's not good enough.

I have been using mixture #1. The method is to first mix up a large batch of dry flours and ingredients then to keep that in your pantry. The next step is to only use some of that mix to make a dough by adding the water, yeast and sugar or honey. Then this wet dough is moved to the refrigerator. The recommendation is to use a GRAPEFRUIT sized ball of wet dough to shape a loaf, let it rise one hour, then bake it. The five minute name comes from the prep work on the day of baking only.

There are two flour mixes given and then there is a substitutions list. I made mixture #1 and for rice flour I did a half white half brown combination. Another option in the book is to use cast iron to cook in and since I know that method very well I decided to give it a try. In the photo I shared you can see the results. I learned that when baking inside the cast iron pot, that it needs a longer baking time. The crust stays softer which is the opposite effect of what happens with the gluten bread method. The interior was softer and it was more chewy. The loaf baked on the pizza stone was more golden brown, a harder crust you really had to work at and it had a good texture. However despite the use of yeast it did not puff up high at all, the loaf was an inch high. In order to use a grapefruit sized piece of dough and get a loaf that equals the volume of a typical artisan gluten-loaf you would have to make five or six GF loaves! These first two loaves made with the new dough didn't have much flavor. I am interested to see what happens over time.

I plan to keep using this cookbook with an open mind. I am curious to see when I can make a loaf that looks like the photos on the cover. If I keep having mediocre results I will revise this review to be more harsh and will include the number of loaves I've baked and the different recipes I've tried.

There is a chapter at the beginning for newbies to discuss gluten issues with medical conditions.

I rate the book 4 stars = I Like It because it's the closest thing so far to an artisan loaf of GF bread.

Disclosure: I borrowed a review copy of this book from's Vine program in order to review it on their website. I was not paid to read or write that review nor was I under obligation to blog about it or to review it favorably. If you click through my Amazon Associate link (above), put something in your shopping cart and pay for it within 24 hours I will earn a small commission and I thank you.

Thank You

For purchasing things through my Amazon link. I received over double my normal for August spending which was largely homeschool curriculum for books and things like flash cards that I have reviewed or mentioned on my blog in the past.

I do appreciate it, it's a surprise email I get once a month with the gift card link and announcing how much I earned. I do not look at my statistics during the month, I enjoy the surprise instead. Sometimes I generate a report to see what is being purchased. It is helpful when you buy things for yourself that have no relation to my posts like mobile phones and other big ticket items.

Thanks for your commission gifts to me for the Amazon Associates program.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Product Review: TP-LINK Archer C8 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router

TP-LINK Archer C8 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

Summary Statement: Works Great - Easy to Install

This has solved our problem and we now have full wifi on the first floor of the house. (Details to follow at the end if you are curious.)

This was easy to install and a snap to get up and running.

After two years of struggle since moving into this house,  the major company who provides our cable TV, internet and land line phone was unable to get wifi through the whole house. They said, "The problem is your walls. Wifi cannot go through all walls." Give me a break.

We found a solution thanks to an electrician and this router. The cable comes into the house in the attic (a common practice in Houston). The first router we use (not this one) is hard wired to the desk area on the second floor at the top of the stairs. We were unable to get wifi at the bottom of the stairs in the office. Also the room next to that router upstairs (the game room) kept dropping Internet which was a problem for online video gaming with xBox360 and xBoxOne.The internet service to the family room and kitchen was spotty and unworkable and there was no signal at all in the master bedroom. We had been using a cheaper router as a signal extender or amplifier but it still was not enough to let the office get wifi Internet.

We hired an electrician to run hard wire from the attic to the game room TV area and to the first floor family room TV area. We then used this router in the family room to amplify the signal which then reached the entire first floor with strong signal and all bars.

I rate this 5 stars = I Love It.

Disclosure: I was sent one unit of this prduct to borrow in order to review it on for the Amazon Vine program. I was not paid to write this review nor was I under obligation to blog about it. If you purchase this or any product within 24 hours of linking through the Amazon link here I will earn a small commission. Thank you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Product Review: Urban Armor Gear Case for iPhone 6 Clear

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

Summary Statement: Cool Looking Case with Several Features to Protect During Regular Use or If Dropped

Our family has been passing this around testing it out. In our family of four we each have different tastes, needs and must-haves in smart phone cases. I will tell you what this is like and then you can judge if this is the case for you. What one person loves, another hates, for example.

This is a case for the phone plus it has a screen protector which you can choose to use or not use. It is a basic screen protector, you get one in this pack, so don't mess it up during application.

The back as you can see in the photo is clear, this is really cool looking to some in my family, me being one. Parts of it are clear plastic and others are frosted. The frosted has a honeycomb pattern. There are black accents that look like rivets. The case looks robotic or spaceship like, futuristic, and tech-y. This look is either one you love or don't care for. To each his own. I think it's cool, my 17 year old science and computer kid loves it.

The sides are clear then have a black border. It is a little textured so it is not super slick but it's not as tacky as I like. I take a lot of iPhone photos and I like to hold the phone with two fingers lightly and snap. The rest of my family does not share my issue with this feature in general, none of them mind it when the sides are slick.

The corners have extra  protection. I find that when I drop my phone it is the corners that usually break so this is a good idea.

The case is bumped out on the front surface so if you lay it down, screen-down, the phone will not scratch or touch the surface.

The bottom is not very wide, it's the standard size. I mention this as a Belkin car charger and phone holder I recently got either requires a very wide bottom opening or you have to remove the case to use that charger/holder.

I find the buttons hard to click to raise volume etc but my teen boys disagree with me. Maybe it's a hand strength thing?

It's a good case with a cool look and several good safety features to try to help your phone not get damaged in typical use. It's a decent price, at about half of what some other cases cost so I will rate this 5 stars = I Love It.

Disclosure: I was sent one unit of this prduct to borrow in order to review it on for the Amazon Vine program. I was not paid to write this review nor was I under obligation to blog about it. If you purchase this or any product within 24 hours of linking through the Amazon link here I will earn a small commission. Thank you. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Updated the High School Transcript For Older Son

I have gone cross-eyed from cleaning up the Excel spreadsheet transcript.

I should have made a style guide checklist. Credit hours is one decimal only. Grades have zero decimal places. Which data is left aligned, which is right aligned.

The order for courses, you get to pick your own. I did English, Math, Science, History, Art, PE, Electives.

I also should have made this myself not used a form from someone else that was online for free. I did not realize that the document was embedded with a tagline at the bottom that you only see when printing. Now I will have to make my own from scratch anyway.

The ones I have been using are fine for giving to the community college when registering for Dual Credit Enrollment as a homeschool high school student.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Suggestion for the College Board College Search Function

It would be much more helpful if the categories to select included these more detailed abilities:

1. Check off box by state not large geographic locations. My son is open to Florida but no other Southeastern state. Being open to a Chicago college does not mean you want to attend all the midwestern schools. Wanting Boston does not mean you want Maine, Vermont, or New Hampshire.

2. Religion check off box. Saying yes to a religious school does not mean you are open to all denominations of religious schools.

3. Sports: Check off by Division vs. Club Sports.

Any other suggestions that you have?

Monday, October 20, 2014

School Transition Update Week 6

I decided to do a weekly update. This is about week six which was a couple of weeks ago.

I last reported that we had a productive meeting with the math and science teacher at the end of week five. Some tweaks were planned and review on exponents at home was planned. Husband and I were optimistic. Son loved his teacher.

In week six the school changed math teachers for my son's class. The teachers flip-flopped classes. In this week my son complained that the new structure was not working and some negative things were going on. My son missed the former teacher.

Based on things said Thursday night and on Friday my husband was angry and asked me to meet with the Headmaster. I scheduled a meeting for Monday of Week 7.

I want my son to learn and don't want to be one of those pain in the neck parents.

I am also aware that gaps in his math or shall I say having forgotten things he really did learn are the issue and I feel badly that he is struggling but await the school to tell me what to focus on.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Article Link: Amazon Vine Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book

Article: Amazon Vine Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book

by: Margo Howard

Published in: The New Republic

On: 10/16/14

This is the daughter of the beloved newspaper columnist Ann Landers. She states here she has once received a seven figure advance on a book she authored. So this millionaire is whining that it was a small number of book reviewers who "ruined her book"? Give me a break.

The first issue is in New Republic she fails to explain that her publisher CHOSE to participate in the Amazon Vine program. Vine policies are not fully disclosed and some question if publishers pay a fee for this service.

Second, her book was released on September 30, 2014, less than three weeks ago. She has a 3.7 out of 5 rating average which is not bad considering some of the rankings I have seen at GoodReads, where the reviewers seem more willing to rank with lower star ratings.

I took two minutes to do a little analysis of the rankings:

5 star: 21: 0/21 Vine
4 star: 0
3 star: 1: 1/1 Vine
2 star: 3: 1/3 Vine
1 star: 8: 3/8 Vine

So let me get this straight there were a WHOPPING 5 Vine reviews for this book. That is 5/33 are Vine reviews and she complains that they have "ruined her book". A more accurate term would have been "ruined my book's pre-publication publicity".

I passed on the offer for me to read this book when I saw it on Amazon Vine's list. I love memoir but I like memoirs with a bit more of a struggle or something more meaningful than something like divorcing three times before finding the one they are happy with for number four.

As a little girl I read Ann Landers' column religiously and I learned a lot of common sense and logical thinking, and a lot about etiquette and social situations that my homebody introvert parents never taught me. I can only think that Ann Landers would not have been happy with this sort of bratty whining from a 74 year old woman.

And if Margo Howard were more concerned with her publicity she would have updated her Amazon author page, which today shows she has authored two books not three.

It seems to me that Margo Howard is a wealthy elitist who out of one side of her mouth wishes more people would read books and buy her books but when those lowly readers have an opinion that is not as flattering as she'd hoped she insults them. How rude.

Here is a 1 star, NON-Vine review by Nathan Rabin:

"The unbridled arrogance and sense of entitlement on display here is absolutely ridiculous. I have rarely encountered anyone so deeply unaware of how they come off, or so deeply enamored of themselves or their literary voice."