by Tyler Morrison
With an eye on 2018, I keep seeing the word “tolerance” bandied about. I have no grudge with an idea that we can collectively learn to be better neighbors. However, there is another type of intolerance that I do hear of nearly often enough in modern day media coverage. I speak of an intolerance more prime-evil than any amount of discrimination I have ever encountered. I speak, of course, of gluten intolerance. And I just won’t stand for it.
Knowledge is the enemy of discrimination, and therefore we shall ring in a new year together of understanding, empathy, and familiarity of the different flours available, and exactly what each is for.
Whole Wheat vs. White
Wheat's seed head (the top of the plant) is made from three portions: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. White flour has been stripped of the bran and germ, leaving behind the fine, pale endosperm. It is more shelf-stable than whole wheat flour, but as a result, has a milder flavor and less nutritive qualities—the bulk of the fiber and protein are contained in the bran and germ. Whole wheat flour is made from grinding all three portions of the seed head. Small-scale millers will often grind the seed head whole, but large, commercial millers frequently separate the portions and then add the bran and germ back into the endosperm for "Frankensteined" whole wheat flour.
Whole wheat flour is more absorbent than white flour, thus requiring more liquid. This results in extra-sticky doughs that can be challenging for beginning bakers to work with. If you're interested in making whole wheat bread, swap 25% of your white flour for whole wheat to start, and increase as you become more skilled at kneading a wet dough. If you use Montana Wheat flour (and you should) the flour can be very coarse, with large pieces of bran. These sharp granules can slice through protein chains, shredding gluten and making bread doughs crumbly, rather than elastic and chewy. Avoid this by not overworking the dough.
Bleached vs. Unbleached
White flour is sometimes treated by bleaching, either with chlorine or benzoyl peroxide (yep, the same stuff as in pimple cream). Bleaching flour damages its starch and protein content and speeds up the "curing" process, which would occur naturally over the course of a couple of weeks. Cured flour is supposed to be easier to work with, making doughs less gummy and more malleable. Bleached white flours also absorb more liquid than unbleached white flours, and is said to rise better than whole wheat flours.
With a high protein content, bread flour is made from hard wheat and contains a greater amount of gluten than All Purpose, which is made from softer wheat varieties. When worked by hand-kneading or processing with a dough hook in a stand mixer, the gluten is developed and contributes to a chewier consistency, which is desirable in artisanal breads. It brings excellent structure to doughs for extra-chewy baked goods, like pretzels and bagels, due to its dense and heavy texture.
Similar to pastry flour, cake flour is milled to an ultra-fine consistency. It is also traditionally bleached. Bleaching slightly damages the flour's starches, allowing them to absorb more liquid and rise higher—an ideal quality in lofty cakes.
Although there are dozens of alternative flours available, we'll focus here on the most common. When experimenting with new or unfamiliar flours, use tested recipes for the best result.
Although spelt is technically a form of wheat, it is often considered in the "alternative" flour guide. It's an ancient grain, and many with sensitivity to conventional wheat products find they're able to easier digest spelt. It has a mild nuttiness, natural sweetness, and is relatively easy to work with.
Rye is a grain, although not a subset of wheat. It has a tangy flavor and natural gumminess when processed.
Naturally gluten-free, buckwheat flour is blue in hue and has a very nutty flavor. It absorbs lots of moisture, so adjust accordingly when baking-the batter may require extra liquid.
Barley flour has a natural maltiness in flavor and is low in gluten. I recommend letting doughs and batters made with barley flour (and, actually, all whole grain flours) sit overnight. The rest period will soften the bran, make the product easier to work with, and round out the flavors.
Rice flour has a granular, coarse texture and is gluten-free. Combine it with softer, finer oat flour for a more malleable dough.
Made from ground oats, this flour has a superfine and fluffy texture. It is sweet in taste, with one of the most approachable "whole grain" flavors
This intensely nutty and very dense flour can be difficult to work with, but has a complex flavor.
Made simply from pulverized nuts, these are easy to DIY with a food processor. They can be very powdery, and, of course, contain no gluten. Most common is almond flour, also known as "almond meal."
Regardless of your personal relationship with gluten, I encourage playing around with some of these flour alternatives. Most can be found in your local grocery without the need to visit the all-natural dreadlocked specialty grocer.
January 22, 2018
(StatePoint) Is your home décor starting to feel a bit stale? Spruce up your interiors with some of the hottest home design trends for 2018 -- from customized cozy to natural textures to retro touches.
Here are some stylish ways to incorporate new trends, from one of the nation’s most sought-after celebrity interior designers, Taniya Nayak.
1. Create an Oasis: Make your home a tropical escape all year long. Add floral or banana leaf accents to form a staycation-worthy “at-home paradise” no matter the temperature. Nayak suggests pairing pops of metallic gold with plush greens and crisp white to build a look that is sophisticated, yet fun and exotic.
2. Keep it Simple: In 2018, Nayak encourages DIYers to “go big or go home…in the simplest way imaginable.” An easy way to accomplish this is to paint your baseboards, trim or window mullions a dramatic contrasting color, like black against a white wall, for an effortless, yet powerful effect. And when it comes to achieving clean, sharp paint lines, one of Nayak’s vital, go-to tools is a premium painter’s tape, like FrogTape brand painter’s tape that delivers the sharpest paint lines possible. Treated with patented PaintBlock Technology, FrogTape is a fool-proof way to get professional-looking results and eliminate the need for touch-ups.
3. Incorporate Natural Touches: This trend is all about nature’s textures -- think wood grain, geodes or ocean waves. One way to incorporate this look is to combine earthy tones like browns, beiges and deep blues with vibrant neon colors to generate the effect of the northern lights around the home.
4. Get Back to the Future: Give what’s old a modern, futuristic update to achieve this trend. Try painting a vintage chair with a pop of color, like the Sherwin-Williams 2018 color of the year, Oceanside, a combination of rich blue with jewel-toned green. This creates an eye-catching masterpiece that seamlessly integrates into both retro and modern home décor. Introducing bright colors to antiques produces a beautiful new spin on a classic look.
5. Design it with Love: What’s “in” in home design this year? Creating warm and cozy spaces that are customized just for you. This is the true essence of DIY. Painting an accent wall in a pastel color, like lavender, will set a relaxed and comforting tone in the room. From there, add personal pieces like a soft woven blanket, a macramé wall hanging or ivory plates on a wall to transform any room to “your” room.
6. Embrace New England Prep: This style embraces the timeless combination of crisp white linens and navy blues, but what really gives a room an authentic New England vibe is the addition of camel-colored leather décor accents. Nayak recommends adding monogrammed pillows to a leather accent chair or whitewashing your brick fireplace to create a look that never goes out of style.
Visit FrogTape.com for more trend information and inspiration.
Get started on your home projects now so you can enjoy your refreshed décor all year long.
Big Sky Connection
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January 18, 2018
HELENA, Mont. - After nine of the twelve members of the National Park Service Advisory Board resigned this week, public lands supporters are noticing what they say is a pattern of indifference from Secretary Ryan Zinke's Interior Department.
In a resignation letter unveiled this week by the Washington Post, board chairman Tony Knowles said repeated requests to meet with Zinke have been ignored. He also expressed concern that stewardship and protection of national parks have been "set aside."
Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, said he agrees and called the agency's actions over the past year - from reducing the size of national monuments to opening up lands to energy development - discouraging.
"I spent 41 years in the National Park Service trying to protect and preserve these natural and cultural resources for future generations," Francis said. "And many of the actions taken, in our view, are sort of an assault on our mission."
Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said the agency denies that it refused to meet with the board.
The National Park System Advisory Board was created in 1935 and designates national historic or natural landmarks. The terms of most of the nine members who quit were set to expire in May.
Recently, the advisory board has focused on climate change and how to encourage younger and more diverse visitors to national parks. But they said these items aren't part of Interior's agenda.
Francis called the agency's treatment of the board disrespectful. He said Interior is holding some hypocritical positions. For instance, the department has expressed concern for national parks' $11 billion maintenance backlog even though it also supports a 13 percent budget cut to the Park Service.
"It just seems like instead of being supportive of our national park and its values - which to me represent the really important places in our country's history and wonderful natural resources - just the opposite is happening," Francis said.
He said he is hopeful people will stand up for national parks, and that he gets emails from people every day expressing support for public lands.
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