Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Summer Post

These are useful on the hottest
weekend of the year, but only
if they actually work.
I wish I had more time to read this summer.  That's not saying there isn't time here and there, but amidst the moving and the child-rearing (no matter how sub-par it may be) and the moving in with my Amy because our air conditioner died right before the hottest weekend EVER and the fighting with A/C repair people, the time doesn't come in nice big chunks that allow me to lose myself in the story or characters.  So I haven't finished a new book yet, and it's my turn to post.  I've started three different books but haven't finished them, making a proper review difficult.  I did finish a really good book before I moved, but I'm going to review it over on BeTween Books (you should check that out by the way).  I could go get my old book journal and review an old book, but I feel like that's even lamer than what I'm about to do.  And what I'm about to do is tell you about some cookbooks.  They're books.  They're books that I have read.  They're books that I have read, re-read, dog-eared, dropped food on, made special places for, and kept (instead of purging) through a couple of moves.  These are my gluten-free cookbooks.

Amy, Carrie, and I could start yet another blog about food.  We all like it and we all have different reasons to use specialty diets.  Amy is allergic to gluten and incorporates several aspects of the Paleo diet into her kitchen.  Carrie has started eating gluten free to improve her digestion.  I have been cooking gluten and casein free foods for over three years now to improve my daughter's digestion, which in turn helped mediate some of the symptoms of her autism.  Big caveat:  the gfcf diet helped her, it may not help every person with autism.  It did not cure anything except intestinal distress, but it sure did help her calm down and be more present.  But again that's her and that's why we've been gfcf for over three years.  So we know a thing or two about alternative diets on this blog and in our family.  During the summer I feel as if I spend an inordinate amount of my time cooking/baking for my kids.  Due to the gfcf nature of their diet, it's not easy to run to a grocery store and pick something up that's ready made for them.  Which means they eat simple foods or food that I cook or bake for them, and these are the cookbooks that made it easier for me to do so.

Really good bread
1.  The Gluten-Free Gourmet  Bette Hagman
Bette Hagman has passed away, but she left a great legacy of making gluten free accessible and even palatable.  She was diagnosed as celiac in the 1960s when most doctors didn't know what that meant.  She has written that she believes she was a lifelong celiac as she remembers getting regular stomach and leg aches after meals and treats of cookies in her childhood.  Once she understood what she couldn't eat, she set out making better gluten free options for herself and sharing with others in her community of Seattle.  From there, her recipes spread and eventually five cookbooks come out of her diligent research and relentless search for good gluten free food.  Her books don't include all the options available now (they were published in the 1980s and 1990s), but her flour blends and general advice still apply today.  The recipe for 'Bette's Four Flour Bread' was the first homemade success I had.  It's good and not in the good-enough-because-it's-gluten-free kind of way.  Also, it was cheaper than buying sliced bread at the time.  Now, the commissary carries Udi's brand sandwich bread which is also good and comparatively cheap.  However if you don't have access to a commissary Udi's can be cost prohibitive, so you might want to check out the bread recipes in The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. 

2.  Babycakes Erin McKenna
For being so "free"
these are full of
I have a gigantic sweet tooth. For me the hardest thing to accept with the new gfcf lifestyle for my girl centered around baking sweets for her.  Somewhere I had associated baking yummy things as an expression of love.  An expression of love that was never turned away - I mean who doesn't love a fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie?  She loved them, and anything else I would bake and I loved that she loved them and me by proxy.  But I realized these expressions of love were actually making it more difficult for her to process other expressions of love, like hugs, pats on the back, even loving words.  She often couldn't handle being touched or sit still long enough to hear the words "I love you."  Something had to change because I would give up making a lifetime of chocolate chip cookies for my girl to accept one hug from me.  So I did.  Well, I though I did.  I thought I gave it up until we took a trip to Disney World.  At Downtown Disney you can find deliciousness baked by a New York-based bakery, Babycakes.  Almost everything is gluten-free and it's vegan.  Not to mention that almost everything is free of processed sugar as well.  Doesn't sound that appetizing does it?  Well it is.  I had their chocolate chip cookies and I wanted more.  I had to quickly remove the wrapper from my daughter's cupcake before she ate it in her haste to consume all the yummy, and the other members of my family greatly enjoyed their treats as well.  Therefore I was excited about the two cookbooks by Erin McKenna that I later found.  Everything from donuts (her spelling) to cookies to cupcakes and cobblers.  We've tried a couple of the recipes and though everything tastes sweeter when someone else does the work, they were really good.  So now I get my cookies and my hugs too!

3.  Blogs
The beauty of the Internet is its ability to kill my productivity.  That's true, but it also gives me some great things in return for having me spend the better part of my morning Googleing and pinning.  Here are some blogs I follow and find helpful.
*The Spunky Coconut - focused on whole foods and includes lots of tutorials, this family makes their own cashew milk and eats gluten, casein, and processed sugar freely.
*The Gluten-Free Goddess - beautiful pictures and a wide variety of foods with adult tastes.
*Gluten Free Girl and the Chef - lots of video tutorials, gorgeous pictures, and a wealth of recipes.
*Gluten Free Mommy - very organized with recipes for a family, and a great resource for other gluten-free blog sites.

By the way, reading books is totally allergen-free.  But if you have to adapt your diet, for whatever reason, there are a lot of resources out there in the Information Age.  These are my standbys.  What are yours?

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  1. Yum. The Babycakes baked goods really were THAT good.

  2. In my imaginary world, I live on a farm. Every morning the kids and I wake up and feed the animals (there aren't that many, just hens and sheep and some alpacas) and then I spend the rest of my day creating awesome food and novels. The food is organic and gluten-free, all the veggies are grown on the farm, and my children all eat this willingly before returning to their hours of fun, electronic-free outdoor play. At night, they play cards or read books, and then we all say good-night ala the Waltons so we're refreshed for the next day.

    Because my real life is more like an asteroid hurtling through space-pretty when observed from far away but quite possibly deadly if it veers off track-I've lived this long just chucking food at the kids and being grateful if they eat some fruit. Gluten-free scares the bejeesus out of me. It seems REALLY HARD. But you've inspired me. Maybe I'll try one recipe and work from there. A dessert recipe.

    Who knows? If it works, I could buy a farm! Or maybe just a bread maker.