Tag Archives: baking

Happy hump day!

Photo © blue_quartz | Flickr

Photo © blue_quartz | Flickr

Wednesdays after a vacation are so much harder than other Wednesdays. I had a great visit with my parents last week, then hosted my sister over the weekend, and then had a half day yesterday because of my doctor’s appointment. All of this means I should be well rested and bright-eyed as I tackle the rest of my week, but instead, I’m dragging. (I blame my lack of nutrient absorption; what’s your excuse?)

To keep my enthusiasm up, I’m focusing on a few small pre-hump triumphs:

1. I had my first dinner party since going gluten-free. Hello, amaranth-polenta-stuffed peppers! Did you know amaranth is rich in, like, everything holy? Protein (including lysine), fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, B vitamins…all that stuff veg-heads and gluten-freebies crave. I am not the first to compare it to manna. I’m eating my way through the leftovers and still have half a package left to use in another recipe. Thanks again, Mom, Dad, and Bob!

2. I made the Bob’s Red Mill brownies for my writing workshop and they were widely agreed to be delicious (by the same pals who said terrible, terrible things about the chocolate chip cookies). I filled them with about three times the recommended amount of chocolate chips (1/4 cup? Really?) and frosted them with Betty Crocker fudgy chocolate frosting (a bit sacrilegious for a girl whose parents would always opt for homemade ganache, but hey, they’re the ones who bought me a baking mix). They were even better the next day after chilling out in the fridge. Thanks, everyone, for recommending the brownies.

3. My new doctor is great. She listened to my concerns, she ordered a few more tests, she reassured me that everything takes time. She also felt my ankles and said, “You really run a lot, don’t you?” I have no idea if those two things were connected, but it amused me.

4. While at the doctor’s, I picked up a copy of the latest edition of Columbia’s Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Living (the linked edition is not the most recent, but I’m not sure the 2012 printing edition can be found online). It’s pocket-sized (if you are a man—if you’re a woman, you know the only thing pocket-sized is lip balm) and packed full of goodies. I read a lot of books, articles, and blogs about celiac disease and gluten-free living and often find the same information over and over again, but the little kernels of new knowledge make it worthwhile. This book lists a whole bunch of gluten-free brands I can check out and also highlighted Montina (Indian ricegrass), which is a new grain on me. I think it’s similar to Kamut (not gluten-free), in that the name is a registered trademark and it seems to be produced by one company only. On a less happy note, it also seems tough to find. Anyone tried it or know where to buy it?

5. I also found it adorable that the guide included the misspelling xantham gumSeriously, it’s so much cuter that way.

6. Plus, it included one of those dining cards you are supposed to give to baffled waiters at restaurants. Do you carry one of these? I’m hoping I won’t mistake it for a business card—not that I give out many of those anyway.

7. Finally, when I pulled out the book I triggered an awkward but pleasant subway interaction with the guy sitting next to me. He told me he has a friend who needs to eat gluten-free, and I mentioned I was vegetarian as well, so we talked about soy. It was the first time I have ever heard someone say the word phthalate out loud. I looked back down at the book after a bit and he got up at the next stop, whether because it was actually his stop or because I made him feel unwelcome, I do not know. I hope it was the former. Although I don’t handle stranger banter all that well, I do love these chats because they remind me that the other people on the train are real people with interiority, not strange cyborg commuting machines, which also reminds me that I too am real.

What’s helping you remember you’re real this Wednesday? (Lots and lots of coffee? Oh, me too. Me, too.)

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not-Quite-Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have the best parents in the world. I hope I don’t lose any readers by saying this—I’m sure your parents are cool, too—but mine are simply the best, and that’s that. Throughout my life, they have given me so much more than my celiac genes (sorry, I had to). They are generous, supportive, smart, caring, awesome people who taught me to laugh often. They’re also both great cooks and bake approximately a trillion batches of cookies between them for the holidays. They are most likely reading this blog post, so I will try to stop embarrassing them and move on to offending them.

Like I said, my parents have already given me a lot. And they continue to. Last week, I arrived at work to find a package I wasn’t expecting. It contained a note from Mom and Dad, a Bob’s Red Mill gift card, and two baking mixes. Oooh.

Bobs-Red-Mill-Gluten-Free-Cookie-Mix-Chocolate-Chip-039978004673Just the way for me to dip a toe into the perilous waters of gluten-free baking! I thought to myself. As I believe I’ve mentioned, I work for a publisher of gluten-free cookbooks. And I read a lot of blogs. This means I know that great gluten-free baking is a) possible, and b) really, really hard. At least, compared to “normal” baking. It involves multiple flours, the use of strange gums (or the gumption to go gumless), whole henhouses’ worth of eggs, and, above all, you really must buy a [standmixer/blender/sifter/oven thermometer/kitchen scale/other tool] depending on whose cookbook you’re reading. It’s scary!

Facing my fears, I tried out the chocolate chip cookie mix this weekend. I even bought a handmixer first! I shared the cookies with a few friends and kindly informed them that they would be required to provide a quote for my blog.

Friend #1: I didn’t want one before, and now I want one even less.
[Note: He did not in fact try a cookie. He also claimed it would be illegal for me to make up a false quote and attribute it to him, and he was unimpressed when I told him I had already done it to Abraham Lincoln. He’s a lawyer, so I won’t take any chances.]

Friend #2: I think they need more fat.
Me: More…fat?
Friend #2: You know, because they’re already gluten-free…

Friend #3: Well, I think they’re great. [Beat.] But I’m pretty drunk.

Friend #4: They’re sort of like gingerbread. No, that’s not it. Oatmeal-raisin, but without the raisins? They taste like…
Me, helpfully: Fava beans?
Friend #4: [Swallows.] Hmm. At least they’re probably really healthy, right?
Me, sadly: No.

Despite threatening my friends that I would, I didn’t take any photos. I do wish I had at least gotten one of myself trying to shape the dough (more like batter, really) into balls and instead winding up smearing fingerfuls onto the baking sheet into haphazard shapes that puffed, spread, and glommed onto each other unnervingly as they baked. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to use that “light” Smart Balance butter alternative. I also maybe shouldn’t have freaked out and dumped half a jar of cinnamon into the dough after tasting it. And I probably should have packed a real dinner for myself that night to avoid this: “You’re all getting pizza? Oh, that’s okay. I’ll just…eat half of these cookies.” Such circumstances would make it tough to enjoy anything, and would give just about anyone a tummyache. Many lessons learned, my friends.

51KSJZC7FWL._SX300_The nice thing about this experience is that, from this point in my gluten-free baking trajectory, there’s pretty much nowhere for me to go but up. So, thank you, Mom and Dad. I’m looking forward to trying the brownie mix next; I hear that chocolate does wonders for, well, just about anything.

What was your first GF baking experience like? Do you have a favorite mix or recipe? Any that really are just like Mom’s?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Emily Glutenin

I’m gliadin! Who are you?
Are you — a gluten protein — too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! she’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be gluten-free!
To crumble — go stale — sog —
And be discussed — the livelong day —
On everybody’s blog.


A little analysis:

1) I hope that Emily was not gluten-intolerant, because she was really into bread. I mean really.

2) The more accepted last line of the first stanza is apparently “Don’t tell! they’d advertise—you know!” This actually makes more sense with the rest of the poem and with what we know of Emily Dickinson’s personality. That we cling to the banish line just goes to show how froglike we are.

3) Agoraphobia is not simply a fear of public places (in which case everyone with celiac disease would probably have it—at least, public places where food is served). It’s a particular kind of panic disorder, and it’s not one of the almost 300 symptoms and conditions associated with celiac disease. However, it develops on average around age 25, so there’s still time for me.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: