Saturday, September 27, 2008
Back in the day, before gluten and soy intolerance's, I was Martha Betty Crocker Susie Stewart Homemaker. Every weekend the neighborhood would wake up to the smell of my freshly made-from-scratch coffee cakes. Christopher would come home from work to the scent of hot melty chocolate chip cookies, still cooling on the cookie tray. If it was someones birthday, our house would be full of pink fluffy cake, even if that someone lived 3,000 miles away. I never passed up an opportunity to turn on my oven. I practically slept wearing hot pads on my hands.
And boy did he come through for me. Actually, maybe you'd like to hear his side of the story...
After baby came along, we got into a rut that many new parents probably find themselves in, gorging on ultra-bad convienence foods and way too much dining out. We didn't read labels. We revelled in the comfort foods of our impoverished childhoods: Hamburger Helper, macaroni and cheese (with hot dogs!), ramen noodles. Slowly we (and by we, I mean Tia, thank god) began to develop an interest in cooking, and definitely baking, again. About once a week I would bring a big plate of delicious cookies to my shop, only to have them gobbled up without a single word of praise for my wife's superior baking skills. Just as we began to develop a steady menu of dishes, a previously unknown (to us at least) autoimmune disease wrecked everything.
As Tia wrote above, it was Celiac Disease. No more cookies. No more brownies. Certainly no more processed boxed foods or eating out (a blessing in disguise). And as the list of foods that Tia couldn't eat grew steadily longer, until they practically dwarfed those foods that she could eat, cooking became a whole different beast. And although we made good progress on yummy recipes for main courses and dinners, the art of baking was forgotten.
When we finally gathered the courage to explore the world of gluten free baking, it was as though a challenge had been placed on my wife, one she gladly rose to fill. If you think making the perfect cookies is hard with white flour, try working without it. What is the perfect combination of rice, sorghum, tapioca, arrowroot, xanthan gum, and sugar to make the tastiest, most-closest to wheat cookie? Good luck answering that one.
As all this happened, I slowly began developing my cooking skills. I watched. I observed. I was told, over, and over, and over again, the same cooking lessons that were so obvious to Tia. I can't say it was easy on either of us. Unfortunately, so much of Tia's strength was zapped battling her food allergies and Endometriosis, that I ended up cooking a lot more. And now, with her being pregnant, the mere sound of cooking food is sometimes enough to make her sick for hours. I was the last survivor on the cooking island during the entire first trimester. Sometimes the food is really, really really good. Sometimes it's very very bad (I'll never forget the soup in which I dumped in 1/4 cup of black pepper and we all choked), but mostly it is just okay. Its edible.
The other day I did whip up something worthy of blogging about. I got a call from Tia while she was working, asking for something with pumpkin in it. So I sat down with my trusty Google, to find an appropriately allergen-free recipe to make for Tia. Fortunately the always-dependable Gluten Free Goddess came through, but the recipe needed serious modification to accommodate Tia. So here is what I came up with, a delicious fall dessert:
Pumpkin Bars With Maple Frosting:
-1/3 cup oil
-1 can pumpkin
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-"OVEN PERFECT for Cake", by turnofthecenturies, $3.00.
-"Cherries oven mitt", by HBIC, $10.00.
-"large indian spice kit", by purposedesign, $38.00.