Tag Archives: cornstarch paper mâché

Ain’t no party like a celiac party

In fact, the only thing that beats a celiac party is THREE celiac events, back to back, like the recent and upcoming ones I’m about to describe. Am I right, or am I right?

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First, for everyone who’s been wondering whether our gluten-free paper mâché piñata held together…the answer is YES. Cornstarch + water pretty much = glue. It’s kind of gross.

Want to make your own? We used this recipe, and it couldn’t be simpler. A few tips, though:

  1. The recipe calls for boiling water, so be careful of tender little hands if you have kiddie helpers (not that you have to; as we can attest, it’s fun at any age).
  2. You’ll need to let the first layer dry a couple days before adding another, so start early.
  3. Paper is stronger than you think, so don’t add a billion layers unless you and your guests have a lot of rage to work out.
  4. We used to paint the shells when we made piñatas with our mom, but this time we glued streamers all over it and called it a day. How you decorate is up to you, but if you really want a gluten-free piñata, pick a GF paint.
Pinterest-worthy, no?

Pinterest-worthy, no?

For fear of it breaking too soon, we were overzealous in our double- and triple-layering, and the piñata ended up a bit too structurally sound. Instead of breaking, after many whacks it came loose from the ceiling, fell to the floor, and still didn’t break. Althea had to go Super Saiyan on it until it finally made like Humpty Dumpty and splat. (Yes, I feel those references belong in a sentence together.)

Our friends were way too cool/sober to rush for the gluten-free, nut-free candy once it hit the ground, though they did eventually saunter over to pick through it. (Tootsie Rolls, Starbursts, and Skittles, if you’re wondering, along with some shockingly good caramel apple lollipops, also in the Tootsie family, in green apple, Golden Delicious, and Macintosh flavors.)

No one filled up their goodie bags (who do they think they are? Grownups?), so we have lots left to give away to trick-or-treaters. We’ve hidden it from ourselves to help it last till Halloween. Do you give out treats at Halloween? Have you bought your stash already, and do you have to hide it from yourself, too?

I had my goodie bag at the ready, going up for my turn (with the mop handle bat).

I had my goodie bag ready, sure I’d bring the candy down on my turn…


...but then did not manage to hit the thing at all.

…but did not manage to hit the thing at all.

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Tonight Althea and I will be heading to another gluten-free party. If you’re in New York City, I hope to see you there! Tickets will be sold at the door for $30, cash or credit, and it’s for a good cause: a fundraiser for the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago.
More details are available HERE, but most importantly, the event includes:

The organizers are clearly out to prove that, contrary to popular opinion and T-shirts, fun hasn’t died yet at the U of C. Perhaps it was the gluten-free diet.

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Finally, next Tuesday, I’m participating in another exciting event: a luncheon at Mehtaphor, part of NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens 10-City Chefs Table Tour. There I’ll learn about—and report on—what top chefs like Jehangir Mehta are doing to extend a hand to the gluten-free community.

Given that I’ve had restaurant training on the brain, I have some questions about GREAT I hope to ask. If there’s anything you’d like to know, let me know.

Chef Mehta is also serving up a gluten-free prix fixe menu on Wednesday, October 23rd, open to the public, so make a reservation through the Mehtaphor website if you’d like a taste.

Will you be attending the party or reserving a table at Mehtaphor? Any other exciting GF events coming up on your horizon?

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Gluten-free piñatas, and other celiac party games

I only just told you about the snacks at our last party, but we’re already menu-planning for the next. This one is in honor of the birth of a certain Libra you all know: my sister! To celebrate, we decided to channel our mom—an excellent themed-party-thrower if ever there was one—and make a piñata.

paper mache piñata in progress

Newspaper is gluten-free and also, unlike most printed products, often vegan.

There was a brief moment when we thought it wouldn’t work: paper mâché is made using flour, and our home is a flour-free zone. I’m also extremely averse to touching anything with gluten in it, inside the house or out. And our piñata dreams were not worth breaking out the sorghum flour.

Fortunately, cornstarch seems to do the trick. I don’t want to speak too soon—the piñata is still hanging in our kitchen to let the first layer dry, where I risk puncturing it prematurely every morning when I forget it’s there and headbutt it in the dark; and we haven’t yet decorated—but so far, so good.

Making the piñata got me thinking about other classic party games that could be made gluten-free. I know by now you’ve all tried Celiac Sorry!, but if you’re itching for more, here it is.

Which sounds like the most fun to you?

Silent line-up

The classic ice breaker. In this version, players must line up in order of their date of diagnosis without communicating out loud. This makes the hierarchy clear early in the party.

Simon says

One player is anointed Simon and calls out commands to the other players. If the command is prefaced with “Simon says,” players must do it. If not, players must not. Disobeying, whether on purpose or by accident, is grounds for dismissal. Nice Simons do not make commands starting with “Simon says” that end in “Eat a pizza.” Mean Simons do.

boy chasing girl in duck, duck, goose game

What we’d all like to do to everyone who glutens us.
Photo © amanky | Flickr

Duck, duck, gluten

All players sit in a circle except for one, who walks around tapping people on the heads one at a time saying, “Duck…duck…” until bored. Then he or she whacks a random person on the head hard enough to daze the seated player and yells “GLUTEN!”

This person, now “the Glutened,” must clamber up and chase the original player around the circle as the remaining players still sitting, do their best to trip the unlucky Glutened—simulating the action of our immune antibodies after we ingest gluten.

If the Glutened catches the Glutener before the Glutener can sit in the Glutened’s original spot, the Glutened wins, and has a full recovery. But otherwise, the Glutened is so consumed by gluten that he/she becomes the new Glutener, spitefully paying it forward to another poor duck. (Two things: 1) that’s not really how it works. 2) Ducks with celiac disease would be sad. They’d miss out on all the bread crumbs.)

Pin the villus on the intestinal lining

If you misplace the villus under the intestinal lining, then your villus is blunted. You lose.

Hide and sleep

Besides one, all players find cozy hiding spots. Being typically fatigued, they take the respite from socializing as an opportunity to catch some Zs. The remaining player tries to find them until brainfog sets in, then wanders off in search of gluten-free cake.

cat sleeping under blanket

Cats are really good at this game.
Photo © Yuxuan Wang | Flickr

Scavenger hunt

Everyone is given a list and set loose in a grocery store to find items such as “gluten-free sourdough pretzels” and “gluten-free filo dough.” They emerge hours later, groggy and miserable, having not found any of the items and cursing whoever wrote that stupid list. To lift their spirits, they binge on gluten-free cake.

Gluten-villus-celiac

Like rock-paper-scissors. Gluten flattens villus; villus starves celiac; celiac eliminates gluten.

Bobbing for apples

It’s like the traditional version, except no one trusts the gluten-freedom of the other players’ mouths enough to stick their own face into a shared bucket of water. Everyone stands around looking at the apples for a while, then wanders off to find gluten-free cake.

Donuts on a string

Forget it. GF donuts are too expensive to drop half of them on the ground.

The flour game

I discovered this on a UK “traditional party games” site, and it is so not gluten-free. I quote:

“Firstly you need to make the ‘flour cake’ by tightly compacting flour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Then turn this out on to a board and top with a large chunk of Mars bar. Each child takes it in turns to slice away sections of the flour cake ensuring the chunk of chocolate remains at the top. The child who eventually topples the chocolate from the top has to find it with their teeth.”

Basically, it’s Jenga, gone oh-so-wrong (especially in an age of increased allergies!).

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And there you go! With the exception of that last one—unless you substitute cornstarch—you’re ready for your next celiac-themed birthday party.

As for us? No, we probably won’t play these, and our theme isn’t really “gluten-free.” But the food, drinks, piñata, and candy will be gluten-free (and nut-free!), and those in search of gluten-free cake will not be disappointed. Cross your fingers for us that the piñata actually breaks.

What’s your favorite party or parlor game? Do you prefer parties with or without themes? Have you ever made a piñata, and what candy did you fill it with? (P.S. Are we too old for piñatas?)

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