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29 November 2007

gluten-free holiday baking

dried fruits


(We're thrilled that this recipe is being featured at Oprah.com's roundup of holiday recipes for 2009. For more of our featured posts, visit Oprah.com today.)

It turns that being sick sometimes pays off.

Last week, the Chef spent his only day off sitting in doctors’ offices with me. We were waiting to have my blood drawn, for doctors to look at me with puzzled expressions, and to bounce from one appointment to another without any answers.

Poor Chef. He doesn’t much like sitting for hours, the way I have to do. He moves, all day long. In fact, I think most days he goes 10 straight hours without sitting down once. That day, all we did was sit. Thank goodness, he was patient with me having to be the patient.

After talking and leaning my head on his shoulder, I sat up for a bit and reached for another magazine. What has happened to doctors’ offices? Why do they no longer have sloping piles of trashy magazines for us to read? When I’m in pain, I want People magazine and dishy analyses of ditzy dresses on the red carpet. Everything in doctors’ offices feels solemn these days, instead.

Out of desperation, I picked up a copy of Family Fun, a sweet publication featuring arts and crafts projects to do with children. Certainly, if we had children (and we hope we do someday), this might be a delightful read. But when you’re sick, and you just want to be in bed, you want to read something gossipy and light as candy floss.

However, as soon as I turned to the recipe section, I sat up straighter. “Hey, this looks good,” I said, pointing to a photograph of Christmas fruit and nut balls. “And they don’t have any flour at all!”

Visions of gluten-free food danced in my head. I felt a little better, right there.

The Chef nodded his head. I was ready to retrieve the pen from my pocket and find some scrap of paper to scribble the recipe on. But the nurse called my name, and I entered the maelstrom of medical mysteries.

At least at the ultrasound waiting room they had gossipy magazines. (I love reading six-month-old gossip magazines. All the faces are interchangeable. And the couple reported loudly to be madly in love are hardly speaking to each other now.)

Luckily, my maladies turned out to be a pernicious infection, caused by gluten, and not an entailed mystery. Antibiotics (and pro-biotics with them) are a godly thing, if necessary. Almost all the vestiges of symptoms have left me. But the idea of this Christmas treat has not. And today, we whirled up the memory, now fuzzy, of what that recipe seemed to promise.

fruit and nut balls I

I’ve been thinking about holiday baking, lately. Certainly, keeping a food website makes me more aware of the impending season. I want to give you all something to play with, so you can make something you love in time for the holidays. And this year, I’m trying to make handmade presents, and send little tins across the country, long before the big days.

(We’ll see.)

Last year, I was in the final stages of writing this book. This year, I’m dancing my fingers on the keyboard nearly as much, but without a set deadline in mind. Surely I can take some time off to cream butter and sugar, pat dough into balls, and make powdered sugar snow down upon gluten-free treats.

If you are new to gluten-free baking, there are only a few guidelines you should keep in mind.

Play. If you don’t have the expectation that everything should taste the way it once did, you widen your horizons. Take chances. Make small batches. Dance around the kitchen when you create a cookie you like.

Don’t over-cream the butter and sugar
. I think this probably holds true for all cookies, but especially gluten-free ones. In the past, I whirled that Kitchen-Aid attachment until it was a white blur in a field of sugary dough. Some of my older recipes even call for that action. Don’t pay attention. Instead, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined.

Refrigerate every dough
. Before I stopped eating gluten, I went from idea of cookie to stirring to eating within half an hour. But it has been my experience that gluten-free cookie dough does much better if you let it rest and chill. (Think of it as an over-worked kid who needs a long nap.) Two hours in the fridge is the minimum, overnight is the ideal.

Find your favorite flour combinations
. I’ve been playing with all those little bags of flours for years, and I’m still learning. The combinations I once used now seem too white. I still haven’t learned to like bean flour. Lately, my favorite combination is equal parts sorghum, sweet rice, brown rice, and teff. That may change later. Try it, if you want. Or find the one that works for you.

Use recipes as a guide, not a bible
. Most of the recipes I put up on this site before, say May 2006 (when I had met the Chef) are a little sketchy. I was learning as I went, and putting recipes up in a blind haze. I want to go back and change them, but I’m going to let that perfectionist trick go. So, use those recipes (and any, really) as your guide. Make it up according to your tastes.

Should you wish to dive into gluten-free baking already, here are some of my favorite cookie recipes from this site:

Rosemary’s Christmas cookies

spicy ginger cookies(adapted from Chez Panisse)

sugar roll-out cookies

lemon olive oil cookies (the best version of this recipe is in the book)

scrumptious fig cookies (again, better recipe in the book)

peanut butter cookies

chocolate shortbread

chocolate-chip cookies with a kick

gingerbread men from a mix and buttercream frosting

thick ginger-molasses cookies


Of course, there are many, many more. If you have one you love – and you swear by it every December – let us all know in the comments.


• • •

And on a related note.....

If you live in the Seattle area, I have an offer for you.

I have met so many good, gluten-free folks around the country who are terrified. How do I shop? What do I eat? Where can I go to restaurants? And what the heck do I do with all those little bags of flours?

If you have been feeling overwhelmed -- because you are new to this or you have been doing it for awhile but have not begun baking yet -- I can help.

I am offering my services for the holidays.

Would you like to go food shopping with me? I can take you on a tour of the store of your choice, pointing out the places where gluten might hide that you wouldn't suspect, as well as delicious foods you might never have tried. Together, we'll get you over your fear of new foods. I'll come armed with handouts and recipes, and plenty of silly stories to make you laugh. You'll go home with groceries and a new confidence.

Do you need to clean out your kitchen and start fresh? Let me help. I can come to your home and help you rid the kitchen of all the possible places of cross-contamination. We can also create some gluten-free snacks for you and your family, to get you through the rough patches.

Are you overwhelmed by gluten-free baking? I can come into your kitchen and put my hands into the flours with you. We'll put on music, we'll talk about food, and by the end of the afternoon you'll have batches of gluten-free goodies to last you through the holidays.

If you are interested, simply email me at mailglutenfreegirl@gmail.com. We'll talk about fees and logistics and how to make this a happy experience for you.


Happy baking everyone. Enjoy this season of dark and light mingled.

fruit and nut balls II


Holiday Fruit and Nut Balls, inspired by a recipe in Family Fun

These are wonderfully quick to make, naturally sweet, and unlike any other holiday treat. Well, actually, they are a bit like one. Fruitcake.

I've never been fond of fruitcake. It just seems too cloying and condensed, like concentrated maraschino cherries. Didn't Johnny Carson use to joke that there was only one fruitcake in the world, and it just keep getting re-gifted every year? Bleh.

These treats have the pure taste of mingled dried fruits and nuts without that cloying sweetness. Even people who don't like fruitcake will probably like these.

(Have you noticed that I have refrained from saying "holiday balls"? I can't help it. When I type the name, I can only think of this sketch.)

The quality of these sweets relies entirely on the ingredients. The better the dried fruit, the better your tastes will be. And beware - some dried fruits and toasted nuts can be gluten-contaminated. Check with your manufacturer. We buy local. Some of you probably dry your own. Choose the best one for you.

Finally, please think of this as a template, not a rigid recipe. Any combination of your favorite dried fruits would work. Let your tastebuds be your guide.

1 cup dried stawberries
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
juice of 1 1/2 oranges

Chop all the fruits into bite-sized pieces. Rough chop the almonds as well.

Put them all into your sturdy food processor and whirl them up. Turn off the food processor.

Juice the orange halves into the mixture. Whirl the food processor again. Turn it off.

Scrape the dough into a large bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Pull the dough out of the refrigerator. Making sure your hands are clean and cold (try running them under cold water before you begin), roll the dough into small balls. (Keep them small. This is rich.)

Refrigerate the holiday balls for two hours, to let them adhere.

Remove from the refrigerator. Dust with the powdered sugar.

Serve.


Feeds 6 to 10 people, depending on their sweet tooth.

42 Comments:

At 11:29 PM, Blogger Angela said...

I'm sure that I won't be the first to say this (nor the last!), but oh! How I wish I lived in Seattle! I'd gladly make a reservation for your time and knowledge-and your stories! Ah well, at least those of us far away still have this site (and the book) to keep us company, but still... I'd gladly trade Hawaii for Seattle, just this once!

 
At 12:19 AM, Blogger Jules said...

Family Fun; such a doctor's office tradition! I am glad you're feeling better, and I have to say that I'm completely intrigued by this recipe. Is it strange that I've never thought of dried apricots as anything other than something to snack on occasionally during infrequent road trips, as opposed to a foodstuff I could actually use in tandom with other ingredients to make something-- dare I say-- yummy?

Jules
House of Jules

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger Anita said...

good luck on your new sideline venture. it sounds like a blast, and a perfect fit for your talents and charm :)

 
At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anne said...

One thing you need to know about fruit cake - in the UK it's wonderful! When we were first married we had American neighbours who held the traditional American view of fruitcake - pretty much as you've described it. We made them a British fruit cake - it's a totally different beast: dark, treacley, rich, full of vine fruits and spices, with citrusy candied peel...

Must go and get my Christmas cake made...

 
At 3:40 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

So, how far will you travel?

 
At 4:38 AM, Blogger chris said...

Those cookies sound amazing. I sympathize on the magazine front. When I was going through fertility treatments, it seemed the only magazines my clinic had were Family Fun and Fit Pregnancy, the latter of which was doubly depressing as I was neither. I wanted People magazine and escapism, not bouncing babies and round bellies!

Good luck on the baby front, by the way. I just had twins at 42. It will happen for you.

 
At 5:22 AM, Blogger Max said...

Oh dear! I don't think you can have had a good fruitcake, ever. If it's made right, from a traditional recipe, such as the one passed down from your English granny, leaving out the green cherries, leaving in prodigious amounts of rum, or sherry, or even stout, and liberally sprinkled to cure it for a month or so before eating, it is *sublime*. I can't wait for mine to be ready!

And I'm *really* looking forward to your polenta, tomato sauce, and homemade sausage meal this weekend. Excitement!

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger jennsquared said...

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. It really means a lot to me.

My biggest challenge is to make gluten free, sugar free baked goods! It's not that David has diabetes or anything, but he just doesn't take processed sugar, by choice. I've been looking for natural things to replace processed sugar and honey so far is the best, but it's not equal switch so the math sometimes can get tricky.

It is so generous of you to offer to help the people. Too bad we live too far.

Can't wait to try some of your baked goods recipes this upcoming holiday season :)

 
At 7:03 AM, Anonymous wheatlessbay said...

I have a question, Shauna and Readers:

"Don't overcream the butter and sugar"

Do you know why not? I don't bake much, but as I understand the cold creaming of sugar in cake recipes, it's the baker's big chance to beat in the air that will leaven the cake, as there is no yeast and just a little carbon dioxide from the soda. While a gluten-free batter obviously doesn't need the butterfat to coat any gluten molecules, it does still need air. Or is something else going on? Is excessive creaming binding the sugar in an unhelpful way? Is it a creaming issue or a temperature issue? Any thoughts, anyone?

I think I'd bake more if gluten-free baking made more sense to me.

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger The girl who took out gluten said...

Shauna I have three kids and I am in love with your blog. It was so fun having a gluten free thanksgiving this year with all of my family for the first time. I am excited for Christmas. I sure wish I lived closer I would take you up on the gluten free shopping and baking. That sounds like fun. My kitchen was totally a mess when I first found out I was Gluten free, but now I have transformed it into a GF sanctuary (and moving to a new house helped a lot). Happy Holidays.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger Em said...

Oh goodness. I don't live near Seattle, and I can eat gluten, but I am addicted to the blog and the thought of taking people grocery shopping seriously warms my heart. That is such a beautiful thing for you to do, and it sounds incredibly fun, too! I'm glad you're feeling better Shauna. Thank you for all the delicious recipes, and the book, and everything.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger ChupieandJ'smama said...

Thanks for all the tips. And speaking of tips, did you tell us that you teamed up with Enjoy Life Food for " Tips and Recipes for Delicious and Safe ‘Free Of’ Holidays"? Did I miss that or are you saving that and I ruined the surprise? I just saw a press release about it. Congrats on all the press you are getting! You deserve it. I'm so proud of you :)

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Kris Bordessa said...

In (I believe) the same issue of FamilyFun, the (flourless) Maple Pumpkin Custards are *fabulous*! Recipe online, here: (http://tinyurl.com/ypqo72)

Disclaimer: I write for FamilyFun, though not that article.

Kris
http://paradisefound.homeschooljournal.net/

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger nicole said...

Oh! I'm making these for my dad, who's on a low-cholesterol diet. Thank you! They look fab.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger J. said...

Family fun has tons of great recipes on there website.. many of them have been adapted and added to my meals - they also have fab activties for when nephews are visiting!

I must go get some dried fruit

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Allison said...

I'd like to second what Angela said - if I lived in Seattle, I would make a reservation immediately for your services! Los Angeles is a little far though, so I'll just have to keep reading your blog faithfully.

Also, I made the lemon olive oil cookies a few weeks back, and even my gluten-loving family members were flipping out over them. I tried to make your crusty sorghum bread, but didn't follow your recipe exactly, and used a breadmaker instead of a real oven...and it came out tasting like...fish?? I don't know how that's even possible. But next time, I am going to use the oven, because I really believe there are some things a breadmaker just can't get right.

 
At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Lindsay said...

Haha! When I saw your reference to the Schwetty Balls SNL skit, I about snorted the water I was drinking... That's exactly what I was thinking when I read that. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I was highly amused!!

I'm hoping that I will have the courage to venture into the world of gluten-free baking this month... We'll see...

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger Gluti Girl said...

Oh it's so true about the People magazine. I never buy it for myself, but when I go to the doctors office, that's what I want to read. And lately, like you, I keep finding all these family magazine or worse yet, Golf Digest!

It is my first Christmas being gluten free and I was a big cookie baker previously. I have my list of old favorites I made for years and my goal is to play with them and get them as close to the original as possible. I will make sure I do a little dance in your honor if I get one right!

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger kim said...

I am glad to hear you are feeling good again, Shauna. You're doing a lot right now; hang in there!

 
At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear that your sick! I assume you are not coming to Los Angeles anytime soon since it was deleted from the calendar??? I was really looking forward to it! Can we expect you to be in the neighborhood anytime soon?

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Daphne said...

Hi Shauna- I found this article about an old friend of mine, Eric Miller... he's started a gluten-free bakery in Corvallis, OR (I grew up very near there). If you're ever down in the area you may want to check it out. I think it's called Living Foods Bakery.

http://rgweb.registerguard.com/news/2007/03/07/fd.fresh.0307.p1.php?section=entree

 
At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,

We agree with the earlier comment.
My daughter & I were looking forward to meeting you and having you sign our book this weekend. Do you think you might grace us with your presence at another time?

Tami & Toni, So. CA

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger VeggieGirl said...

mmm, these Holiday Balls sounds delicious and perfectly festive for the current season - who new that Family Fun magazine could be so inspiring with their recipes?

I do hope you're feeling better!! And remember, next time you happen to be in the doctor's office, be sure to bring a mindless read with you ;0)

 
At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Barb K. said...

I am so sorry that you have been dealing with this nasty infection. Sounds as tho you are starting to feel better---and that's a GOOD thing!! Looks as tho the Los Angeles leg of your book tour has been canceled since it has been deleted from the calander. I will keep my fingers crossed that it will be rescheduled----I am SOOO looking forward to meeting you, learning from you, and just enjoying being in the presence of such a beautiful soul. I live in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles and you and Chef are MORE than welcome to stay at my home if you need. Again, I am happy to hear you are feeling better, and if it's possible to reschedule Los Angeles, I will be there with 'bells on!' I read your blog daily, (even if there's nothing new that day, I reread the last couple!) so I will be on the lookout!!
Bless you, Happy Holidays and I hope I get the chance to meet you!
Fonldy,
Barb K.

 
At 6:37 AM, Blogger jenn said...

"Luckily, my maladies turned out to be a pernicious infection, caused by gluten, and not an entailed mystery."<--that is disturbing. I presume that happened when you were out on book tour? It disheartens me, because it sounds like you do everything you can to avoid it and it still got you.

I found this blog while looking up celiac stuff, and I am glad I did. The book is great, btw :-) I'm not into baking, but some of the other recipes have been great. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

 
At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Ann said...

I remember Family Fun! Mainly from the pediatrician's office (hey three kids mean a LOT of hours in the waiting room). What a wonderful service you are offering... so hands-on... and think of the people you'll meet!

Glad you're feeling better... and oh yeah, the cookies look great!

Ann at Redacted Recipes

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Juree said...

Shauna-- I just wanted to thank you for visiting my site last week. I absolutely love that first picture-- so autumnal! Where do you think I could find dried strawberries if I didn't have time to make them?

 
At 4:08 AM, Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

I guess this goes to show that you can find inspiration anywhere, even in the Family Fun in the Dr.s office waiting room! Great story and recipe!

 
At 7:53 AM, Blogger Stephanie & Jason said...

Hi, Shauna!
I'm a first-time poster but a months-long reader of the blog -- I love it!
This has very little (if anything) to do with this post; in fact, I'm addressing your photography. I've fallen madly in love with so many of your photos. They're a perfect combination of two of my most favorite things: food and photography -- what could be better?!
I've noticed in recent photos a small black dot (sometimes blurry, sometimes more pronounced) in the same exact spot in each picture in which it appears. Just to clarify, in the picture of the dish of dried fruit, it's in the lower-left corner (on the rim of the dish). Not sure if it's a problem you're familiar with...
I also use a digital SLR that I love as if it was a living, breathing thing. I experienced a similar issue of "debris" appearing in my photos. It became the bane of all my photographic experiences. I was told the problem was caused by dust building up on the digital sensor -- a common problem with DSLRs. A camera repair shop should be able to clean the sensor for you. When I had mine done, it took about four days for me to get the camera back -- what felt like the four longest days of my life -- and it cost about $100.
I hope you'll be able to remedy the problem, and your photos will look as brilliant as ever!
A Fan,
Stephanie

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Divina said...

Ciao bella!
these look like mini panforte's from Siena!

We add honey, pumpkin pie spice, cocoa powder ( is that gluten free?) and I love the black pepper which then actually makes it panpepato.

they do have flour in theirs and it is baked.. but I think tweeking yours would be fun too.
I am going to try!

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Wicked Good Dinner said...

Looking forward to trying this recipe! I just found out I'm allergic to soy, and most nuts. I've been crying for two days, trying to adjust. While I'll need to substitute the almonds for pecans, I can't wait to try these!!

Thanks for all of your wonderful information!

-Dawn

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Carol Kicinski said...

I'd love to go food shopping with you but alas I live in Florida not Washington. Woe is me.

I'm new to blogging, just started my own blog about gluten induced adrenal fatigue.

I want my blog to be like yours when it grows up!

Carol
http://crazycrashedadrenals.blogspot.com/

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Hey Shauna-
Wow. Stephanie has a good eye! I scrolled back through your photos and that dot seems to have materialized after San Francisco. Maybe it's something subliminal, like if you look at it under a microscope it says something. But if you look at it through a telescope, you can't see anything. If you have Photoshop I can show you how to get rid of it.

-xo- La Niña

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Cakespy said...

This post is pure pleasure! From the Turkish Apricots (yum) to the cookie recipes (Lemon! Olive! Oil! Cookies!), this is a great reference (and visual delight!)
-jessie from cakespy

 
At 1:37 PM, Blogger swirlingnotions said...

Oh my gosh, I SO know what you mean about needing meaningless, highly distracting reading in waiting rooms. Let's just say that I'm prematurely minus a uterus, so when I go for ultrasounds, it's not for happy reasons. Compound that with the fact that in the waiting room, I'm normally surrounded by pregnant women with glowing, hopeful faces awaiting the first glimpse of their baby and you can imagine I'd read just about ANYTHING to keep my mind off being there.

So glad to hear you're on the mend, Shauna! And I wish I lived in Seattle . . . I would SO take you up on your shopping offer!

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger ~Kat~ said...

Can you post a new link to the Gingerbread man recipe... it keeps saying "page not found" and I'm dying to get my hands on that one for our little ones this holiday season. Thanks a bunch!

 
At 3:57 PM, Blogger LeeAnn said...

Can I ask a "lazy cook" question? Why bother chopping up the ingredients for the nut balls before processing them? Can't the processor do that?

These sound pretty good--maybe good enough to replace my beloved Russian teacakes (until I figure out how to make them without wheat flour). But I hate chopping stuff. Any reason I can't just process it?

I am endeavoring to pull off my first child's birthday party without gluten this week. We bought a chocolate chip cookie mix which we had success with baking as a 8x8 bar/cake.

The hardest new thing has been having people gifting us with christmas cookies left and right and telling my 2 celiac kids not to eat them--while the other two non-celiacs (so far, they haven't been tested) can go ahead. We've bought other treats to substitute, but the ten year old still takes it personally.

I'll think about those personal shopping/baking services. We're in the area. Some days I "get it" and some days I go into the store and just wander after realizing there's nothing for three aisles that we should be eating.

Today's lunch was canned chili with added corn and black beans--Stagg's chicken & bean chili is marked "gluten free" now.

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

Shauna, my husband has Celiac and is also lactose intolerant. Do you know whether dairy free margarine can be substituted for the butter in the molasses cookies? I tried it with a sugar cookie recipe, and the dough was too sticky to roll out.

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

I hope you feel better, soon!

I have to say, my experiences with gluten-free baking have been different from yours. I find that most every recipe benefits from a thorough creaming of the butter, eggs and sugar. This makes plenty of air pockets for the baking powder/baking soda to work on. Extra baking powder is always helpful in things that need to rise during baking but have a lot of weight on them (fruitcake or biscuits come to mind). This does not hold true for something that does not need to be fluffy (such as pie dough or shortbread).

I just avoid bean flour altogether. There's no point in it :). It tastes gross and the extra protein isn't necessary (although Bette Hagman used to think it was necessary). I use a mix of brown rice, white rice, sweet rice, tapioca flours, plus cornstarch and xanthan gum. It works for just about everything (except for yeasted bread).

I find that gluten-free dough doesn't need to "rest" unless you're trying to give the baking powder time to rise a bit before baking. Since there's no gluten, there's no need to rest the dough. Or unless you're chilling it for refrigerator cookies or pie crust. Or if there is margarine in them--I find margarine to be super-soft.

Anyway, just wanted throw in my two cents. Again, feel better!

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Angela,

Oh, that’s so sweet of you! If you do come to Seattle, let me know. Or maybe we should come to Hawaii…

Jules,

Yes, dried apricots are fabulous in tandem with other foods. I adore them with chicken, in particular. But this little recipe is one of my new favorites.

Anita,

Thank you, my dear. You know, I really love helping people with this. If we can make a little money through this, so I can keep writing (and not get a job at Starbucks!), then I’m thrilled.

Sweetpea,

Oh Sweetpea, if there was a cheap way to get to Minnesota, we’d happily fly there to work with you.

Chris,

Thank you for this wonderful note of encouragement. I love stories like this. But ack! Having to read those magazines when you were undergoing fertility treatments must have been horrible!

Max,

You know, I lived in England, twice, so I do know what you espouse. True authentic fruitcake is scrumptious. Deecadent. (No stout for me, though.) But the ones that are mass-produced here? They’re a pale imitation.

Jenn,

I hope this one works for David. It’s really a yummy holiday treat.

Wheatless Bay,

You know, I can’t say I can explain the science. I just know that when I over-cream the butter and sugar, the cookies spread. It’s not quite as much in cakes, however. If someone else could explain the science, I’d love the input!

The Girl Who Took Out Gluten,

Great name, by the way! And a gluten-free sanctuary sounds fantastic. Those are some lucky kids you have!

Em,

Oh thank you!

Chupieandj’smama,

Thank you! You know, I haven’t mentioned it. My goodness, there is much bounty around here that I feel a little bashful about reporting it all. It starts to feel like bragging. But I’m so happy that I can help spread awareness!

Kris,

Thanks for the tip! You know, there’s really no need to have pie crust, per se. That custard is plenty. And good work on the magazine.

Nicole,

I hope your dad loves these!

J,

You know, I’m sure they do have good recipes. In fact, perusing the website, I was mighty impressed. I certainly didn’t intend what I wrote as a slur against the lovely magazine! It’s just that when you’re sick, you want something mindless to read….

Allison,

I’m so happy everyone enjoyed the lemon olive oil cookies! I do love those cookies. And the bread tasted like fish? Okay, that’s weird. I really don’t think that bread recipe works for the bread machine! It isn’t intended for that, at all. And bread is so difficult, and particularly gluten-free bread. Keep at it!

Lindsay,

I’m so glad someone else was thinking it! And please do venture into the world. What’s the worst that could happen? Some of them won’t turn out that great? Better to have baking than not at all.

Kim,

Thank you. You know, this has been a dizzying time. But being sick — and I’m much better now — has been really useful in finding my balance again.

Anonymous,

I’m so sorry I didn’t announce it on the website — I appreciate all of you who expressed disappointment. We’re still going to be in LA! We’re coming at the end of January instead.

Daphne,

Thanks for the link! In fact, I’ve been talking with the lovely people who run that bakery. The next time we are in Portland, we’re really hoping to do something with them.

Tami and Toni,

We’ll be there at the end of January. And we can’t wait to meet you!

Veggiegirl,

You know, inspiration is lurking everywhere!

Barb,

This is such a sweet comment you left here. Thank you so much. We’ll be there soon. And please come up and introduce yourself, wherever you are. (Our dear friend Sharon lives in LA, so we’ll be staying with her. But thank you for that generous offer.)

Jenn,

Thank you so much. You know, it’s still easy to get gluten, if we’re not always vigilant. Every time I get some, I take it as a reminder to be even more mindful.

Ann,

I’m sure you did have your hands full at the pediatrician’s office with three kids! Brave woman. Thanks for writing.

Juree,

You know, we bought ours from a local producer at a stall in Pike Place Market. Oerhaps there are some farmers’ markets near you?

Deborah,

I try to remain cheerful, even when I’m not feeling well. Who knew?

Stephanie and Jason,

Thank you so much for commenting for the first time.

Great eyes! I noticed that too, and I knew it must be something on the lens. I’m having it looked into tomorrow, but it looks like a few days without the camera. (Sniff, sniff!) Thank you for your help!

Divina,

That sounds fantastic! Do you want to send some from Tuscany?

Wicked good dinner,

Oh, I think this would be great with pecans. There are so many great ways to eat. You’re going to be fine.

Carol,

What a sweet thing to say! Keep at it. You never know where these blogs might lead….

La Nina,

You’re so great! Telescope. Microscope. Oh yes. But in this case, it’s a straight fault that just needs fixing. No metaphors!

Cakespy,

Oh thank you, my dear. You’re doing great work over there!

Swirlingnotions,

Oh my dear, that sounds terrible. “….prematurely minus a uterus.” I hope that the waiting rooms grow more bearable for you soon.

Kat,

Thanks for the heads up! I’ll fix that next.

Leann,

Oh, that’s simple. When we first made this, we made them at the restaurant, with the huge powerful Cuisinart food processor. Even with the big motor, that machine whined and groaned and almost gave up. The next time, I tried cutting all the fruit into smaller pieces (which only takes a few minutes), and the food processor didn’t threaten to die! It’s worth it. And it’s lovely meditative work.

Sorry that you’re having a tough time. It will improve.

Hannah,

Hm. I’m not sure as I’ve never tried it. I do know that when we try to work dairy-free, it comes with its own challenges. Most margarines are really watery, so they’ll affect the composition of the baked goods. Try it, play, and see what happens. Perhaps you could add a bit more flour to the sugar cookies next time…

Jeanne,

Thanks for your experience!

You know, I’ve tried creaming and creaming the butter and sugar with gluten-free cookies, and it just makes them spread every time. When I asked David Lebovitz about it, he said that most cookies (gluten or not) do better with not so much creaming. Since then, I’ve just barely mixed the sugar and butter, and the cookies work every time. Cakes may be a bit different, however. We all have to find our own speeds and techniques. I’m certainly not the expert here!

Bread certainly doesn’t need to rest! But cookies, pie crust, and anything dairy-free does seem to do better when refrigerated for awhile. Again, I don’t know the science as to why. If someone can tell us, let us know!

And bean flour? Oh boy, I’m with you.

 
At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your sweetie is avoiding dairy because of allergies, try coconut shortening. There is also a natural version of Crisco that doesn't have the hydrogenated fat.

I just got the book, and I love it.
You don't realise how much food is used for celebrations until you can't have it.

I live in CT and would be happy to walk people through Whole Foods or Wild Oats, or even the regular grocery store. I'm not an expert, but have been living with this for a while.

And I'm with you on the bean flour! blech!

I found a recipe in an old Martha Living mag for panforte, which is dried fruit and nuts held together by chocolate, more or less. Its yummy and gluten-free.

Catherine

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

question on the dried fruits- are these dried fruits 'plain?' ie: the ones that are quite dry and crunch? (I have seen dried strawberries at WF and they are very very dry.) I dry my own fruits and wondered if this would work.

 

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