Tag Archives: gluten free peanut butter cookies

Gluten-Free and Me

28 Jan

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For a person like me, who has been baking most of her life, learning to bake gluten-free has been an interesting adventure.  As far as I know, I am not affected by gluten, but it seems every week I am finding that more and more of my friends/clients are either gluten-intolerant or have been diagnosed with celiac disease.  Initially, that presented a dilemma for me, because I still wanted to create lovely food for my friends and clients.  And I can… but I just needed to learn how to do that without using my old “mainstay”, namely wheat.

The hardest part of this process was discovering that wheat is hidden in so many different foods.  This meant that I had to read ingredient labels very carefully.  Some of the ingredients that likely contain wheat are obvious – bread crumbs, pasta, couscous, tabouli, hydrolyzed wheat protein.  Then there are the foods that you might not suspect contain wheat – malt vinegar, soy sauce, beer, brewer’s yeast, and even Red Vines licorice!    Who knew?   Well, most gluten-free consumers do… because they have learned to read labels and to look up the ingredients that might not be easily identifiable such as Dinkle, Chilton, edible starch, kamut, and Farro.  

My neighbor, Deb, has been gluten-free for a while now and she has been a great source of information for me.  She has also been happy to taste the gluten-free dishes that I come up with and will offer suggestions of other dishes that I might want to try.   Sometimes she is at an event that I have catered, and she is the one “selling” my goods because she knows which ones are “safe” to eat.  It seems that many times the guests who have issues with gluten are surprised that someone made an effort to provide food for them.   I just know that if some of my guests can’t eat any of my offerings, then I haven’t really “catered” to them.

Yesterday I helped a friend with an event and made about 10 dozen gluten-free peanut butter cookies for the dessert table.  As we were arranging the platters of sweets two guests thanked me for making something that was gluten-free.   It was such a simple thing to do… and I was glad to be able to provide something that everyone could eat.

Recently my friend’s son was diagnosed with celiac disease and in an effort to show him support, my friend has decided to eliminate gluten from his diet as well.  How sweet is that?  It reminds me of the story from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  Shauna, the gluten-free girl, has celiac.  Shauna met and then married Danny, a chef.  Soon after, Danny decided to make his restaurant gluten-free so that he could create a place where his wife could eat anything on the menu.  Isn’t that amazing?

Tomorrow is my friend’s birthday, and so tonight I made him a chocolate cream pie that is safe for his son to eat.  The crust is made with those same peanut butter cookies – crushed in the Cuisinart, mixed with a tiny bit of butter, pressed into a pie tin and baked for 10 minutes.  This recipe for chocolate pie filling usually calls for flour, but I simply substituted cornstarch and that’s all that I had to do to make his pie gluten-free.  It was the least I could do for a friend.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

~ Cesar Chavez

For a list of foods containing gluten, go to this website,  www.celiac.com , and search for the forbidden food list.  It was created by a man named Scott Adams who was diagnosed with celiac nearly twenty years ago.  He created this list so that others wouldn’t suffer needlessly.

Baking: An exact science or a way of life?

10 Jan

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

As many of you might imagine, I often have something baking in the oven at my house.  For me, baking has become as natural as breathing… and almost as life-sustaining.   As I child, I jumped at the chance to bake, and eventually became good at it.  Sure, I’ve had my share of baking mishaps – my first pie falling in the oven, my first loaf of bread that was so heavy it could have served as a doorstop,  but that is to be expected.  When we are learning a new skill, mistakes come with the territory. But when we make a mistake, we learn a lesson… and if we pay attention, we rarely do the same thing again.

When I was a young teen, my Mom told me that she would show me how to make Cinnamon Swirl Bread which was a big deal because my Mom really didn’t like to bake.  Together, we made a batch of bread dough and let it rise.  Once risen, my Mom took the dough and rolled it out into a rectangular shape and brushed it with melted butter.  Then she did something that seemed strange to me at the time.  She took the cinnamon-sugar mixture and placed it all one of the long sides of the rectangle, and then she rolled up the dough.  “But how does the cinnamon swirl happen?” I asked her, confused.  “That happens in the oven” my Mom explained as we put the loaves into their pans for the second rise.  It seemed magical to me and I couldn’t wait to see the finished loaves.

Well, now I know that’s not how it works.  When we took the loaves out of the oven, they looked beautiful, and smelled even better.  When we could wait no longer, we cut into the bread and discovered a “log” of cinnamon sugar in the center of each loaf.  There was no magic;  my Mom had just misunderstood  the directions.  Once we discovered the mistake, we laughed until we cried (and ate up every last crumb!)  I’m glad that my Mom made that mistake because in doing so she gave me the permission to do so as well.  What a gift!

Which reminds me of a conversation I had while visiting a friend recently.  Catherine was a nurse in the Navy, worked as an emergency room nurse, and is currently a nursing supervisor.  As I helped her clean up after dinner, she mentioned to me that she had been inspired by my year of pies and said that she could never do what I had done.  I was embarrassed because what she does everyday seems so much more inspiring.  Then I asked Catherine if she liked to bake.  She told me that because baking is such an exact science, she didn’t really do much baking.  Wow.  Perhaps because she deals with life and death issues all the time, she doesn’t want to add one more “science” to her load at the end of the day.  Who could take that kind of pressure?  In her job, if Catherine makes a mistake, someone could die, whereas in mine, we just end up with something that’s imperfect (at best) or headed to the trash (at worst).   Luckily for me, my job is much more forgiving.

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Apple Blueberry Pie

As is usual, I made a few pies this last week.  One was sent to a woman I’ve never met.  She read this blog and told me a bit about herself and the challenges she was facing and asked to be considered for a chocolate pie, and because I could, I sent her one.  It was the same Brownie Pie recipe that I’ve mailed to others (and the only “pie” that I feel comfortable mailing) but sending it off to this “new” friend felt like I was offering a glimmer of hope for better times.

The other pie that I made this week went to a friend who recently had a fire in her home.  When we spoke, she told me about all the things that have happened in her life in the last few years.  Just listening, I felt tired for her and so I asked her, can I bake you a pie?  “Oh you’re sweet” she said, “but you don’t have to do that.”  I know, but that’s part of the fun… I don’t have to do this “pie baking stuff”… I want to.  It makes me happy to do it, and I’ve noticed that the happiness doesn’t end with me; it tends to spread.  And that is a good thing.

Before I go, I wanted to mention that I also baked a few other treats this week because on January 24, I will be teaching a gluten-free baking class at the Ashland Food Coop and I wanted to test my recipes for clarity, timing, etc.  I’m very excited to have the opportunity to share my love of baking with others and I want to thank Mary Shaw at the coop for encouraging me to do this.

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Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It’s our privilege and adventure to discover our own special light.” Mary Dunbar

 

Day 295: Wedding Pie!

26 Jan

There is a growing trend in the wedding industry to serve pie instead of cake at wedding receptions.  While this is a departure from the tradition of serving cake, it is not a new idea.  A recent blog post by Pie&Ltd. reports that in the 17th century, the Bride’s Pie was in fact very common.  The fillings that they served then are not what we would expect to find in a pie today.  They were savory pies made with sweetbreads, mincemeat or mutton.  As an added surprise, a glass ring was baked inside the pie and it was claimed that the lady who found the ring would be the next to marry.

The tradition of serving pies at weddings gave way to serving cakes by the late 19th century and the customs changed over time as well.  When I was a little girl, my Mom told me that if you put a piece of wedding cake under your pillow, (well wrapped of course!) that you would dream of the person you would marry.  Many times I followed that custom, and the only thing was good about it is that I ate a lot less cake that way.

Today I wanted to create a pie fit for a wedding.  This is how I went about it.  First, I baked gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies.  Once they were baked and cooled I crushed them in my Cuisinart and pressed them into a pie tin and baked it for 10 minutes.  Next I took the recipe for Decadent Peanut Butter Pie and adjusted it a bit by using real cream instead of whipped topping.  I poured the peanut butter mixture into the cooled pie shell and refrigerated it for about an hour.  Once it was set, I spread cooled ganache over the top of the pie and put it back in the fridge for about half an hour.  Then I topped it with sweetened whipped cream and shaved chocolate.  At last I had a pie fit for a wedding!

This evening I gave a Decadent Peanut Butter Pie to a couple of friends, Ryan and Savannah, for their wedding dinner.  Along with it I sent my very best wishes for a wonderful life together!

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin

Day 235: Parenting

27 Nov

Being a parent is a job that comes with many challenges. How we handle those challenges is up to us. One would think that with a job this important, there would be a manual that would be given out before you left the hospital with your new baby. But that is not the case. Instead we hear words of advice from our parents and friends, read articles in magazines, ask our doctors countless questions, and pray like crazy. And most of the time we do the right thing.

Right now, a friend of mine is going through a difficult time, and I called to lend an ear if she needs someone to talk to (or yell at) and offer any other kind of support should she need it. I also brought her a gluten-free chocolate cream pie as a treat to help her through these trying times.

I started with the recipe for gluten free peanut butter cookies from Carol Kicinski’s blog “Simply Gluten Free“:

Then I crushed the cookies, added a bit of butter and pressed the mixture into a pie tin and baked it for ten minutes. Then I added the chocolate pie filling to the cooled pie shell and topped it with whipped cream and shaved chocolate so it looked as it does at the top of the page.

Tonight I thought I would  also leave her with some sage advice  (and a poem) from folks far wiser than me:

Children aren’t happy without something to ignore, And that’s what parents were created for. Ogden Nash

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. Harry S. Truman

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. ~Robert Fulghum

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out. ~Erma Bombeck

 

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking
- Unknown

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang up my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one.

Parents with little childWhen you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I LOOKED… and wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.

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