Gobsmacked: Lessons in Living a Gluten Free Life #1

GF Pancakes

How long have you been gluten free?

What prevents you from digging in and baking/cooking like you used to?

See those pancakes?  I’m proud of my weekend pancakes.  My chickadees love pancakes on the days we get to wake up in a lazy fashion (READ: 6:30AM instead of 5:15AM).   I used to be so stuck.  I would fuss over a recipe or dig one out and carefully measure, etc.  And guess what?  They didn’t care if the pancakes were perfectly fluffy or “exactly” like the ones I made last week.  They just wanted pancakes.  (In particular, pancakes cooked in olive oil that have a bit of a crunchy outside are perfect for dipping.  Or so I am told.)

Well before I was diagnosed and right before I went off to college, I sat down one afternoon with my brand spanking new typewriter (Take that, technology!) and my mom’s boxes of recipes.  Her recipe cards were from friends, family, and collected over the years from magazine clippings.  Most of the things she cooked for dinner were not on any recipe card in any box.  They were in her head.  But alas, foolish teenager that I was, I did not realize how much I would want to know about our dinners.  Instead, I focused on getting the cookies, breads, rolls, appetizers, etc from my youth onto recipe cards of my own. 

Yes, I typed them onto recipe cards.  For some reason, I didn’t think my handwriting would “last”.  I’m certain that impression came from watching the cards from grandmothers and great-grandmothers having been scribed in pencil smear and fade a bit with time – and more importantly – use!  Oh, I spent the entire afternoon typing up recipes at the kitchen table onto those cards and sliding them into sleeves within my own recipe book!  I was a GROWN-UP for sure, now!

Upon my diagnosis more than a decade later, I shoved those family recipes aside.   Once, I even “weeded through them” and threw many into the recycle bin.  I was angry.  I thought I would never need those recipes again.  After all, my doctor had told me that my future meant not a single crumb of bread, cookie, cake nor pasta would pass my lips.

 

After my first forays into the gluten free market, I became convinced that he was right.  Now only would I never bake again, but if I did happen to find a gluten free version in the store of whatever baked good I wanted, it would be disgusting.  It would be hard as a rock and as dense as a skyscraper.  (I know these weights to be accurate because my Love and I schlepped a giant amount of gluten free rolls purchased on the internet in 2000 with us on our honeymoon to Rome.  Trust me.  Dense + heavy + disgusting = doctor was right.)

 

Flash forward to this weekend.  As the girls began stirring from their sleep (hello 6AM… oh how I wish you were 8AM….LOL), my Love so graciously (HA!) offered to have “Mommy make some pancakes”.  Both girls popped up and out of bed in a flash.  Ah yes, the weekend has arrived if pancakes are on the menu and they know it.

 

Getting pancakes together absolutely no longer means even cracking open a recipe book.  Honestly.  I simply mix together ingredients as I go.  I have more memories of my grandmother and great-grandmother recipes noting ingredients in quantities of smidges, pinches, etc.  I totally get that now.  Save for the fact that mine would be measured in scoops from the flour bin, shakes of the baking soda container (always a tad more that what I think looks “right” just to be sure),  pinches of salt, couple spoons of honey or sugar and milk to the right consistency.  Everything is adjustable.  Make one practice pancake.  Taste test.  Adjust (if needed) and go!  Turn on the oven to warm and make pancakes.

 

If you had told me in October of 2000 that one-day I would again be back in the kitchen just preparing food rather than worrying about recipes for every little thing, I would not have ever believed you.

 

I still focus when baking bread.  That is something that the balance of ingredients must be “ON” for – or you will have a disaster of a loaf of bread on your hands.

 

I still write up recipes for breads, muffins, cupcakes, etc –but it feels good to be back in the kitchen and not so worried like I was before I started blogging in 2005.  I guess the best part about blogging for me has been forcing me to learn the recipes and the consistency of the doughs and mixes so I know what I am doing again.

 

So….. How long have you been gluten free?  If you are feeling like you will never get your kitchen mojo back, don’t worry:  it will come.

 

Promise.

9 comments on “Gobsmacked: Lessons in Living a Gluten Free Life #1
  1. Lovely post, Kate! So true, too! The best recipes I create come from guesstimating and a smidge of this and a smidge of that. I figure out the amounts and right them down just so I can share with others, but I find it easy to cook and even bake that way now. :-)

    Shirley

  2. Liz says:

    Thank you for the encouragement – I am awaiting the return of my baking mojo!

  3. Kathryn says:

    Eight years ago your blog was one of the first I found and I followed every recipe exactly as gluten free was new and felt so different. Those days are long gone and it’s nice to be able to wing it again and play with recipes. It’s much more interesting to me when recipes don’t come out exactly the same way each time.

  4. Crysi says:

    You’re so right! I’ve been baking gluten free since 2008. My oldest daughter is gluten intolerant and after that diagnosis, I went through a depression too. I was angry because I loved baking and thought I’d never be able to do that again, that everything would be nasty. I was so wrong! Now I actually prefer the gluten free stuff we bake and there are so many more options out there. I don’t follow recipes exactly anymore either. Our pancakes never come out the same and my girls don’t care. They just love pancakes too!

  5. Val says:

    Gluten-free for 25 years. At the beginning, it was a 90-minute drive just to buy rice flour. Now I bake with sorghum, millet, teff, buckwheat and nut flours. I thank my lucky stars for celiac expanding my horizons.

    • Crunchy says:

      Almost 12 years here. The family talks almost nostalgically about how much easier it has become to eat since then. How excited I was the first time I received a box from Kinnikinnik when I realized how much better it was than Ener-G. How we can now go into Trader Joe’s or sign into Amazon and get a bag of GF flour mix instead of having to mix it up at home. How when I ask a server in a restaurant if something has gluten I no longer have to explain what gluten is.

      Life is good. :)

  6. Angela says:

    Needed to read that! I am so disgusted after searching for hours on what to cook for dinner. So tired of the same ole same ole. If i eat another baked potato or salad I think I’ll scream!!!I It seams like every recipe I find looks like some gourmet concoction. Reading this makes me hope that maybe 8 years down the road I won’t have this struggle.

    • Rene says:

      Angela, I have found several equivalent products that let me use the old favorite recipes with the substitutions. For instance, anything that calls for a condensed cream of [whatever] soup, I use a condensed cream of [whatever] soup from Pacific Foods. If your local grocer doesn’t carry it, you can order it from Amazon.com like I do, for about $1.25 per carton (which is equivalent to the standard can of Campbell’s). I also found San-J has delicious GF soy sauce, and Premier Japan has a delish GF teriyaki marinade. Tinkyada makes the best GF pasta for cooking al-dente, but Pastariso is more affordable and almost as good…just make sure to cold-water-emerse to halt the cooking when it’s al-dente. King Arthur’s GF Multi-purpose flour is perfect for substitutions, and Orgran makes a “Self-Raising GF Flour” that works great for those kinds of substitutions. Hang in there, honey. It takes a while to find the “good” GF products, but once you do, people won’t notice that you’re cooking is GF.

      • cheekychica says:

        You are so right, Rene! I love the condensed soups from Pacific Foods too. Super time savers! And we are San-J groupies – but recently have found an organic, gluten free tamari at our local Korean market that is much cheaper. Whenever we run out and if we are not running to the Korean market, I do pick up the SanJ. It is our preferred brand *by far* over the others that are widely available too.

        I haven’t tried pastariso pasta – thanks for the tip!

        Good advice all around. :D
        You are a gem!

Got a gluten free crumb to leave behind? Share your thoughts!