Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with...Guar Gum




Ohhhhhh Cookie Monster. You strangely flaccid blue rug with a face. Despite ONLY eating cookies for over forty years, you haven't gained a pound of fluffiness. How is that? It might be because you don't actually EAT the cookies, you just crush them up and throw them around like confetti. A practice that must make the other residents of Sesame Street super happy. I wonder if your little three fingered, fuzzy, lobster claw-like hands can hold a dust pan? I doubt it. They all must LOVE cleaning up after your bullshit behavior. Are those cookies you are throwing all over the place Gluten Free? For some reason, I think not.

As many of you know from previous posts, I have failed many times at gluten free baking. And when I say many, I mean thousands of times. Thousands of horrific, disfigured, disgusting creations have come out of my oven and I have made my husband eat every single one of them. GF baking is not for the weak. It is a practice in patience that requires the tenacity of a hyena fighting over a dead carcass. And yes, some of my baking has looked like a dead gazelle carcass.

I have given up on making gluten free bread, buns and pretzels. I have passed those achievements onto far more astute and talented bakers and simply purchase them from the store. I suggest you do the same unless you want to become the shell of a human I am.

I have though, mastered the Gluten Free Cookie. I can make GF cookies like a boss. People usually don't know that my cookies are gluten free and my friends with Celiacs often ask for the recipes. Due to my long rap sheet and many poor decisions, there isn't much I'm proud of in my life, but I am proud of my Gluten Free cookies.

 How did I do it? Well by failing several times of course and not giving up. My success is evidence to my Irish stubbornness, not due to any level of talent on my part. I have developed some hard and fast rules with my cookies and I have decided to share them with you because I'm a nice guy.

Rules for GF Cookies:

1) Use a good flour. The paler the better. I don't use any flours that have darker products mixed in, like flax or buckwheat flour. These are good for cooking or frying but I don't like them for baking. I use Robin Hood GF Flour or President's Choice Gluten free flour. Any flour you choose should be able to be swapped cup for cup. Measure your flour carefully, don't just scoop the measuring cup into the bag, this packs the flour down and makes it so you get too much. Use a spoon and ladle the flour into the measuring cup so the measurement is accurate. With most of the flours on the market these days, you can make any cookie recipe from your mom's old, yellowed, recipe box and just swap out the flour.

2) Add Guar Gum. About one or two teaspoons per recipe. If your cookies come out flat, add another teaspoon next time. Guar Gum is cheaper than Xanthum Gum and they do the same thing. Some people say that they can tell the difference between the two but I think they a crazy people. EVEN IF the flour says it has Xanthum or Guar Gum in it, add a teaspoon.

3) Rolled cookies are a pain in the ass. This has been one of the hardest things to master for me. GF cookie dough is always a little more wet than regular dough  so no matter how much flour you use, they will stick to the counter and be impossible to cut out and lift. The secret? Parchment paper and corn starch. I tape the parchment paper to my counter, cover it with cornstarch, put the dough on, sprinkle that with more corn starch and another piece of parchment paper, then I roll it out. This works great. You can also use plastic wrap but I find that it can leave those weird seams and lines in the dough. I use corn starch because GF flour is so expensive and it feels wasteful to just throw it around. If you are a Rockefeller, feel free to use as much GF flour as you like. For the rest of us peasants, corn starch is the way to go.

4) The cookie trays can be a challenge. If you are like me, you have your Mom's old cookie trays from 1960 which are probably made of lead and thalidomide so they have had a LOT of gluten on them. Plus, these jerks I live with that call themselves my family, don't have Celiacs so they sometimes use the cookie trays for their poisonous food, like chicken fingers. Losers. Anyway, line your cookie trays with parchment paper too, this prevents cross contamination and stops the cookies from sticking. I have used tin foil before and just sprayed it with non stick spray but sometimes the stupid gluten free cookies still stick and the tin foil heats up too much and causes the cookies to burn faster. So use parchment paper, it usually just comes in a roll and I buy parchment paper at the loonie store. Use something sharp to trim the parchment to the cookie sheet, a knife or samurai sword works fine.

5)  GF cookies should take the maximum amount of cooking time listed on the recipe. So if the recipe says 8-10 min, it will take 10, maybe even twelve. BUT, and here is the kicker, they burn SO FAST so watch your oven carefully. Don't leave the kitchen to build a snowman or give a presentation on the theory of relativity while you have cookies in the oven. If the recipe says 8-10 minutes, I start watching them at 8, like a hawk.


Here's the thing, you could follow all my rules and still have a result that looks like a Chernobyl experiment. I give no guarantees so don't write me hate mail when your Grandma's recipe for Snickerdoodles didn't work out. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the Gluten Free Gods did not smile on you that day and you produce bullshit. Sorry, you have Celiac Disease, suck it up, throw some icing on that shit and eat them all up anyway. I can't fix fate.

So, to my Cookie Monster, you messy, googly-eyed, sweet, puppet. I love you, I do. I would love to make you some GF cookies one day because, let me tell you, you simple-minded, sixties shag rug with arms, you wouldn't throw my cookies around pal. You would ACTUALLY eat them, because they are delicious!

You can find my recipes for GF Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sugar Cookies in the recipe section on this site.

Happy Baking!






Saturday, 18 February 2017

Someone Is Going To Give Me A Microphone!



That's right, someone is going to give me a microphone and free reign! 

I am excited and honored to be asked to speak at the Edmonton Gluten Free Festival on June 10! I'll be ranting and raving with some other amazing speakers, all of which will be far more informative and educated than I. 

The festival has amazing vendors and promises to be a fantastic event. 

Get your tickets HERE. Tickets include a Gluten Free Breakfast and Lunch plus access to all speakers and vendors. Remember to register early as space is limited! 


Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Celiac at Sandos

This year was a family Mexican Christmas year. It's the year that I throw my hands up, yell 'fuck it' and go to Mexico for Christmas. We love it, we really do. I love that every second year, someone else fusses over me for a change while the kids swim in pools and someone makes my bed for me. I usually book a smaller resort with little or no buffets and a way for me to speak to the chef and the staff get to know me.  This time, we tried something a little different. We decided to step out of the box and visit the large, adventure filled Sandos Eco Caracol resort near Playa Del Carmen. This was a really cool resort with Cenotes, wild monkeys, Mayan ruins and lots of great service and warm sun by the pool. I loved the experience of it.

The food? Not so much.

As far as the Celiac friendly factor, it wasn't good. Basically, I was really hungry for most of the time. 

When I booked the resort, I contacted them and the concierge wrote me back to tell me that they could certainly accommodate my disease and all I had to do was to talk to the concierge upon arrival and get a letter to notify the chef of my allergy and all would be well. 

Once checked in, I headed over to the concierge to speak with Noe who was very helpful in composing my letter. So, letter in hand, I head off to eat. 

International Buffet - This is where I found myself our first night because we arrived so late. I tried to show the letter to one of the chefs behind the buffet line to no avail. He kind of read it, handed it back to me and shrugged. Okay...so...moving on. I had a bunch of fruit and cheese but couldn't get anything hot because I had no idea what was in anything else. The nice thing about this buffet is that there is a bread table off to the side so your chances of cross contamination from bread is low. However, I couldn't even try the rice or potatoes because I had no idea what was on it and apparently, the cooks didn't either. I think all the food is prepared way in advance or comes from a package so the chef doesn't know what has gluten and what doesn't.

 I had to eat breakfast and lunch at the buffets because there isn't anything else open and I had no choice. The a la cartes are only for dinner which was rough. Like....rough. I struggled throughout the day as I watched my family eat burgers and tacos and pizza and pasta all day and complain about how full they were and how much weight they gained. Me? Nope. This is the first vacation where I have lost weight. Here's what I ate and found to be safe at the international buffet:

Breakfast: Fruit, yogurt, cheese, coffee, milk and a mimosa (because...mimosa) -

 I also sometimes had the scrambled eggs BUT some days I couldn't because there are two bowls of scrambled eggs, one with sausage and one without and the cooks often only put one spoon out for both thus contaminating the plain scrambled eggs. They also had five minute eggs in the shell but they were certainly LESS than five minutes most days and the gelatinous whites gave me the willies. They have omelets everyday too BUT you can get it put in a flour tortilla, a flour tortilla that they put on the grill and use their spatula to lift and move it so that was a bust too.

Lunch: Fruit, raw veggies and cheese. See the pattern?

There were taco bars and lots of different things but when I asked a server if they were corn or flour tortillas they always said "both". Both is bad, both means cross contamination. Both means I run a risk of ruining the trip for myself and for the rest of my family. 

 I'm not going to lie here, breakfast and lunch sucked. More than once, I blinked back some tears watching everyone else enjoy their meals. It was rough.

On day three, we had the worst of it all. We decided to try the italian buffet for lunch, I only ate raw veggies anyway so the kids might as well get some pasta. Big mistake....huge. We sit down but again, there is no one to give my letter to so I grab my plate and head off to the salad bar. I load up my plate with my regulars, cheese, lettuce, beets, carrots etc. On the salad bar was some steamed green beans and so I threw some of those on too, head back to the table, don't look at the piles of italian goodness on my family plates and dig in. Two bites in, my heart stops. There is a piece of spagetti on my plate. A PIECE OF SPAGHETTI! I'm dead.

I look up at Trevor and my lip begins to quiver. This is it, I have planned this trip for almost a year, painstakenly chosen this resort from thousands of others. The weeks of lists and packing and preparations are all gone. Poof, just like that, it's over. Trevor's face darkens as he looks at my plate and he immediately jumps up and darts back to the buffet to check each item. Meanwhile, I am trying not to have a panic attack but my mind is reeling. Should I go force myself to throw up? How long do I have before it hits? Can I get back to the room before the pain starts or will Trev have to carry me part of the way? How embarrassing will that be? Could I just lay by the pool in pain? No, I'm too far from the bathroom. Will I get the rash too this time because I'm in the heat? Did I bring the cream I need for that? How are the kids going to sleep if I'm up all night sobbing in pain. What the FUCK am I going to DO?

Then I look over and the kids are both looking at me. The fear in their eyes cut me to the core. Here we are, on a family vacation that's supposed to be a no worries situation for two kids who are nothing but great kids. They get good grades, they are polite and kind and this was their reward and here I am, ruining it. They are worried about me, panicked really and that sucked. Trev comes back and says "It's the green beans, they were clearly cooked in pasta water." I hadn't eaten a green bean yet but the green beans were all mixed in with everything else so I had no idea. I insisted that we move on with our day and not worry anymore about it but who am I kidding, we spent the next three hours in terror, waiting. But, miraculously, I was okay. Just...starving so I was looking forward to the a la carte that night for dinner.

Snack Bar - There is a 24 hour snack bar at this resort which I think is brilliant. The kids loved it. BUT it was never stocked. It was so frustrating because the buffets close for a couple hours in the afternoon and this snack bar is the only thing open and then it doesn't have any food! Here is what I can eat there...nothing....nothing. Well...not nothing. I would eat the fruit in the mornings before it got cross contaminated. You could also eat the chips because they are lays but be careful because they are right beside the buns and I busted a couple people dropping a bun on the chip pile by accident or using the chip tongs for the buns. You know what I did? When I got really hungry? Like...night of the living dead hungry? I would reach down with my hand and dig some out of the bottom of the bowl....like a savage. You can also have the individually wrapped cheese slices there. I brought gluten free crackers from home so one day, I ate cheese and crackers for lunch. DON'T eat the veggies because they are burger toppings and they have bread crumbs all over them.


A La Cartes:

Brazillian - This is one of those 'meat on swords' places that has all the side dishes lined up buffet style. It was awesome. This was the only place that I got to speak to the chef. This was the place that 'got it'. We showed the letter to the server who then took it to the chef. The server then came back to get me and the chef walked me down the buffet to tell me what I could or could not have. It was awesome. I could have any of the meats except for the sausage and the food there was delicious.

Japanese: This one was great too. It was one of those places where you all sit around the grill and the chef performs for you. It was awesome. The letter again was given to our server and she handled the whole thing. The chef made my food first on the super hot grill, dished it out, then poured soya sauce over everything else to serve the table. My protein was made in the back by a separate chef and was just plain chicken. That was okay though. It was a good meal. 

Steak House: This one was just okay. They took the letter no problem. We ate there the day of the green beans so I had LITERALLY not eaten that day so when they put those lamb chops in front of me, I went at them like an angry lioness. Trev said they were actually horrible and overdone, honestly, I didn't notice. My plate also only had raw veggies and the plain meat. Trev's lamb chops had a sauce, cooked veg and mashed potatoes.

Italian: We went back here for the a la carte dinner because I have had good experiences at the Italian place at other resorts. This was by far the worst meal. I gave the hostess the letter and a manager came to talk to me. I originally thought I would have a beef meal but decided on shrimp risotto instead. I have always been able to have risotto and was excited about it. I so wish I had taken a picture of my plate because it was honestly, kind of funny. It was a pile of plain white rice with four tiny cold shrimp around it. I'm not kidding. It was sad.

And here's the thing. I appreciate the chefs making my food specially for me. I really really do and at the end of the day, I didn't get sick, not once. However, I think the problem is the chefs at the Sandos Caracol don't actually KNOW what gluten is so they just took everything out. Everything everything. This resulted in terribly bland, tough to enjoy meal. The Sandos team has to train these guys because I think they are all great chefs, I just don't think they understand that just because I can't have flour, doesn't mean I can't have anything else. It's like someone reporting their peanut allergy and being served water only. Why? 

I also met a lady who was in the "Royal" section of the resort and her son had Celiacs. Now, she had a VERY different experience than I did. She had the manager calling her to see where she was eating that night so they could prepare for her, she talked to the chef at every single place, and felt very comfortable with her experience. I really, really hope that this was just luck and NOT that because she was in a higher level room than me that they took her allergy more seriously. I really hope that the level of room has nothing to do with the level of my safety.

This is an eco resort that I think is trying to appeal to a healthier, more broad minded individual and I think they are going to have to step up their food game if that's the case. Almost every item on the buffet has a little label above it, why not throw a 'gluten free' symbol on there if it applies? Put a Gluten free symbol on your menu items that apply. You could do 'lactose free' or 'peanut free' for those that need it. Then the line chefs don't have to worry about knowing every ingredient or being asked questions about something called 'gluten' in another language by a starving, annoying chick from Canada.

I'm sure there are lots of sauces and sides that I COULD have eaten at the Sandos Caracol but the chefs didn't know which ones, either because they didn't prepare them or because they came from a package that has since been thrown out. I don't know what it is but it should really get fixed because at this point, I would book back there in a heartbeat if I knew I would be able to eat there. 

Overall though, we had an amazing vacation. The resort is beautiful and a great deal of fun. The poor food was overshadowed by the fantastic service and gorgeous environment. 













Saturday, 17 September 2016

All About Elle

I am not posting as often as I normally would. No, I didn't start a cult, join Trump's election team or move to New Zealand to learn the Hakka.

I've been doing, you know, life. We had a busy fun summer, we got a puppy, who is currently trying to chew my fingers while I write this, oh, yeah, and I wrote a book. Well, I finished a book that I have been writing for two years and, just like Justin Beiber always says, books are hard. It should be out in the next few weeks so I apologize for the delay in posting.

Honestly, I wasn't going to post today but something has come up and we need to talk about it.

I need to tell you about Elle. 

Elle's mom Jenn and I are sorority sisters which means that we've known each other since the Cretaceous period. Elle is eleven years old, she is bright, and funny and a good friend. Elle likes to dance, camp and roll her eyes at her mom every once in a while, just to remind Jenn that she is raising a tween girl.

Elle was diagnosed with Celiacs a little over two years ago.

Since then, Jenn has completely embraced this new life for Elle and the rest of the family. They still go camping and zip-lining and Elle never misses a dance recital. But it hasn't been easy. Finding foods that Elle can eat at friends houses and family events is always a challenge for any mom of a Celiac. Jenn, however, has taken it all in stride and has always done a great job of making sure that Elle's Celiacs is just a blip on the radar and not a big deal. Which is important for kids.

However, Jenn has run into a major problem this week and I just need to share the issue. Elle started Junior High. Ugh right? Junior High. The apex of awkwardness, judgement and general misery in our lives. Junior High is hard. The kids are still kids but they want to be independent. They are figuring out their own uniqueness while trying desperately to fit in and avoid being the target of the mean girls.

Being a Celiac in Junior High must be tough. Not all kids would understand your disease and wouldn't really care enough to learn. Plus, it's not like it's a comfortable disease to talk about with a bunch of awkward tweens. What young girl wants to discuss her colon or small intestine with new friends. Brutal right?

 Along with the regular classes kids take in Junior High, there is the added bonus of the options classes. These are different for all schools but in general include things like; drama, art, robotics, sewing, and woodworking. My own woodworking class was a complete disaster and my teacher told me never to work with power tools again. A rule I have stuck to fastidiously to this day. There is also the cooking class, where you learn all about how not to die of starvation after your parents kick you out of the house.

Of course, for Elle, this poses a challenge. There are a great deal of ingredients that she can't eat and some she shouldn't really even handle. I have stopped making things with wheat flour for my family because I often feel a little ill even if I wear gloves.

So Jenn decided to make it a little easier on her girl. Not in a Beverly Goldberg smother mother type of way, but in a reasonable, logical way. She contacted the teacher of the cooking class and advised her that Jenn would provide Gluten Free ingredients for Elle. She would also supply all the tools needed to complete each recipe. Since the kids work in groups, Jenn offered to provide enough GF products and tools for Elle's ENTIRE GROUP. This way, Elle could fully participate in all the activities and get to eat the finished masterpiece. Totally reasonable right?

Brace yourself.....the teacher said no. 

No. 

No, that she wasn't willing to adjust her plans at all to accommodate Elle's needs. 

I can't even...

This isn't some crazy mom who says her kid has a fear of chocolate (a condition called xocolatophobia I have recently learned) and insisting that no one has chocolate in the entire school. This is a Mom of a kid, WITH A DISEASE, that is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her kid gets all the same experiences that the other kids do. She isn't expecting the school to do anything at all, they don't have to spend their budget, they don't have to hire new people, they don't even have to even tell the other kids really. 

They just have to allow it.

 And they won't.

I am so angry about this situation, my blood is boiling. Our society is often struggling to find the balance between accommodations and over compensation. If one person needs something, does the rest of the world have to adjust? I say yes, within reason of course. If the person's accommodations effect the rest of the population in a negative way, then we need to find a different way. But if that person's accommodations make no difference or indeed, improve the life of those around them, then it should happen. 

Why? Because we are human. We are part of a rich tapestry of different humans all living together in this world. We are each unique and it is that uniqueness that makes our world the amazing place it is. When we embrace our differences, and open our hearts and minds to the individuality of others, we become better people. 

Wouldn't that be a nice thing for Elle's grade seven class to learn this year? Wouldn't it be lovely if they were taught inclusion, patience and tolerance for other's accommodations. Wouldn't it be delightful if they learned that we can all be different and still be friends? 

Wouldn't it be nice if Elle's classmates learned a little humanity on the side of their main dish? A touch of tolerance added to their cooking class curriculum certainly couldn't hurt. Plus, some of them might even learn a bit about cooking Gluten Free, which again, doesn't hurt. 

So, if Elle's cooking teacher is reading this. I'm so sorry that you don't value her enough to make a few changes to your teaching plan. I'm so sorry that you don't see how important it is for her to feel like a part of the group or, more importantly, to show the rest of the class how important she is, and therefore, they each are. I am really hoping you are refusing to accommodate her based on a lack of education, not because you are being lazy. Please, please tell me that Elle has to suffer because you are lazy. I would love to talk to you and educate you on the disease that Elle and I share and how it is nothing to be afraid of, it's nothing to shy away from and it's certainly more common than you think. I encourage you to rethink your stance on this, because it is a brilliant opportunity for you to teach more than just cooking.

I know Elle is going to be great at Junior High, if she's anything like her mom, she going to kick ass, take names and smile a whole lot. It would be great if her school could make it a little easier for her but if they choose not to? That's their loss, not Elle's.

 Elle knows she is amazing, she doesn't need her cooking teacher to be kind to her to know that.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I Need to Write This Down... Got a Penne?

Let's talk pasta.

Okay, so the Gluten Free pasta situation isn't too horrible. In the big scheme of GF options, there are A LOT of GF pastas. I have a few favorites mainly because of their texture and ability to stay together when boiled. I find that all rice flour pasta turns to a mush when cooked. Rice pasta always looks and tastes like what I imagine people in futuristic, space prisons would have to eat. It would come out of a robot's arm, a sassy robot that says things like, "If you don't like it pumpkin, you can file a complaint when you get back to you cell." Then she would bark out an unnerving robotic laugh that gives you the shivers.

Rice Flour Pasta is no good.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of sassy robots, this blog is my opinion, based on my own experiences and facts that I believe to be true. Don't send me a bunch of emails telling me how I MUST be cooking rice pasta wrong for it to turn to the consistency of dog diarrhea. I am not cooking it wrong, I don't like it. Get over that. You will never convince me that I SHOULD like it. Plus, unless you hand make rice flour pasta all day long, you really have no personal stake in this matter so don't waste your time. If you DO make gluten free rice flour pasta all day, I am sorry for belittling your work but it sucks.

I have some seriously great options for GF Pasta. 


Barilla GF Pasta

Catelli GF Pasta

President's Choice GF Pasta


Now,  I don't enjoy spaghetti as a gluten free option. I find that it's tough to get a really great texture from it. We work with the penne and the fusili options (tube noodles and twisties respectively for those of you under twenty or just feel like you are). These boxes aren't very big so it's usually a box and a half if I am feeding the family. They run about three bucks but will often go on sale for two fifty each. I use them for all our pasta needs including a pasta salad that is to die for. Word of caution though, it doesn't keep well, it gets dry and crunchy if you try to eat it the next day so make all dishes right before your family starts foaming at the mouth for dinner. 

I have missed stuffed pasta though and it has never been a possibility for me, other than making it myself which appeals to me as much as sharing a bed with a wolverine. Not THE Wolverine, Hugh Jackman can snuggle in with me anytime, I mean a crazy ass, blood thirsty rodent of unusual size. 

This is an actual Wolverine...uh...no thanks.



So no, I'm not making my own gluten free fresh pasta. Fuck you. Don't send me a recipe. Stop now. I can feel you hunting Pintrest for some sped up video to send me which I will inevitably get drunk and think that I can make. It will cost me eight thousand dollars in ingredients and Italian pasta makers and I will end up with the futuristic robot slop of my nightmares. Then I will cry and it will all be your fault so don't.

You know what you can send me?

THIS! 

Like a party in your mouth and no one else is invited!


This is President's Choice fresh Gluten Free Pasta. I stumbled upon it when Superstore sent me 'offers' on my loyalty card. In general, I think loyalty cards are just a hyper creepy way of the big companies to track my spending and eventually take over my brain so I buy twelve hundred dollars worth of tampons in a day. However, the PC Points card is actually kind of cool and one day it notified me that I could get fifteen hundred points for buying PC Gluten Free Fresh Pasta. It's in the deli section and it ain't cheap at around eight bucks per order. One package could most likely feed two people but I wasn't sharing that shit with anyone. If Mother Theresa wanted a delicious tortellini out of my bowl, I would be hard pressed to share. So basically, the kids had no shot. 

It was easy to cook, keep an eye on it because it cooks pretty quickly, about four minutes or so. I just mixed mine with some butter (mmmmmm butter) and some pre-made pesto sauce. 

This is it cooking. I never got a finished product shot because I was too busy eating. I'm selfish like that.




I was really good....like really really good. 

I'm sure to anyone who has had glutened fresh pasta in the last four years, you might not think so but to me? It was AH-MAZING. I ate until I burst and then I ate some more until I felt like I couldn't put my arms down because I was so full of tortellini. 

It was a powerful moment. 

So that's my take on pasta, the Gluten Free version of it anyway. Remember, if you are cooking for a Celiac, you have to wash your pasta pot within an inch of it's life and make sure that you do the same with all your cooking utensils and plates. Don't stir your regular pasta and then use the same spoon to stir theirs. Separate and conquer or I will put you in my prison of the future with my sassy robot lunch lady. Who, now that I think about it, is basically just a lame version of Rosie the robot from the Jetsons but she'd be super scary if she was in a space prison no? 

I googled 'Rosie the Robot Cooking' for a finale image but the only pictures that came up were of her cleaning or making martinis so maybe she won't be a slop dispensing asshole of the future. Maybe she'll be kind of awesome. 


Enjoy your pasta responsibly.

































Sunday, 21 February 2016

F*#k You Pretzels

I was on the ball today. Yeah. That's right. I had my shit TOGETHER for the first time in...well... what, six, seven years? It was one of those days that everything clicked. I was sick all week and the antibiotics finally kicked in so I had tonnes of energy, did yoga, hiked with my daughter, visited with friends, organized a drawer, dinner was good and everyone ate it, I am totally prepped for a week of work, lunches made. I was ON. THE. BALL today. So, what did I do about that?

Of course, I ruined it.

I, in my infinite wisdom, thought that I should look at Pintrest.

Word to the wise.... DON'T and I mean DON'T ever look at Pintrest on a Sunday night when you feel like you have your shit together because it will ruin your life. Literally. Look at Pintrest when you already feel like shit about yourself. Look at it when your kids are in the hospital because you accidentally ran them over with your range rover. Look at Pintrest when you are already failing at life. That way you won't be tempted to try anything on there because you know it would be impossible.

While riding the high of organization and an empty hamper, I made the fatal mistake of looking at Pintrest.

And I found THIS Pin. Now, let me just make it clear that other recipes that I have done from this site have totally worked for me and I'm sure someone else would be able to make Gluten Free pretzels. They rock. I suck. That's the bottom line.

I should have known better but did you see the pictures on there? GAWD! Those soft, stretchy, golden brown pretzels? How great do they look?

So I did it. I royally fucked up the pretzels and now, my friends, grab a glass of wine or a pipe of crack or whatever you need and enjoy my utter, dismal, failure that is....Fuck you Pretzels.

I need to make it clear to you that I can bake. I am an exceptionally good baker. Really really good. I will never be a physicist or fully understand how a gas pump works but I can... bake.

Except for today, today I accomplished the equivalent of wearing a Kanye Yeezy outfit to Parent Teacher Interviews. I shit the bed.

I followed the recipe perfectly but I rarely use my yeast anymore. Look where it was in the pantry, hiding behind the lost, dejected can of beef stock. Poor little bastard.



Now, stop your hen clucking. The yeast was still active. I checked. So don't blame this failure on the yeast. It was fine. Trust me. Like I said. I can bake.

So, I begin the process of following the recipe. I wake up the yeast and I cut in the butter then I mix everything together and at this point, I have to admit, I suspected that everything was going badly. The texture of the dough was 'off' and by off, I mean, it felt like that weird dirt on a baseball diamond. Yeah. Yummy right?

Not good. Not good at all. Note wine glass in background.

I didn't give up though! Would you? Of course you would have because you have the common sense of a goat. I, can not claim such a talent.

In order to convince this powdery bullshit to stick together, I added a little water, then more, and more and more until it finally turned into something that resembled a dough. Actually, it still resembled old crusty playdough circa 1987 but I stuck with it.



See? It doesn't look like the seventh circle of hell now does it? Trust me, it's like one of those things on Alien that lay in rest until the host least expects it and then it jumps out and gives you the worst tummy tuck ever. This is a ball of destiny.

You, of course, have to let it rise. So I do. Does it? No. No. No. Of course not. It just sits there, nice and warm, looking at me with distain and judgement. Laughing at me.

After an hour, I'm supposed to pull it out, divide it into six pieces and make six preztles out of it. It's laughable really, that I could possibly make a pretzel out of this wet sand. I divided and rolled and rolled and rolled, like it was some sort of sappy, horrid movie, I tried and tried and tried. But... alas.. the gluten gods hate me because frankly, I hate them.



Do you like how I pulled out the ruler, as if I could measure this monstrosity? I'm delusional. A crazy person. So do you think they look like pretzels? Hey?

Okay, so at this point, I regroup and decide to try to make something different. I decided to make pretzel 'bites'. Like that's a thing. Pretzel 'bites' like bagel bites or snack bites. I crack me up.

I cut some into rectangles, I tried to ball them up but basically, I didn't make gluten free pretzels.

Do you know what I made?

I made dog food.

Yup. Dog food.




I threw out the rest of the dough and as you can see, I was really enjoying myself at this point. I was really feeling that housewifey glow that you see on commercials. I. was. loving. being. a. Celiac.


I boiled them and baked them and as a perfect ending fuck you, the fire alarm went off to notify the house that the dog bisquits were ready.



Wow. This is a new low bitches. THIS is the worst thing, ever made by anyone, anywhere. I swear, the garbage they make reality stars eat on deserted islands which is basically shark piss, coconut husks and Gary Busey's ball-sweat, is of better quality than this shit I made.

How do they taste? Like death. That's how.

What do I do now? Nothing. Throw it all out, drink some more wine and eat a brick of cheese.

I consider that a win so after all that, I still nailed it today. I got all my shit done and I tried something new. I failed. Meh. Fuck it.

The most important thing in life is to ask yourself if what you did today will make a great story. And it did. It made a great story. So pin that motherfucker.





Saturday, 16 January 2016

Don't Forget to Stop and Smell the ....FLOURS?





Gluten Free Flour, the bane of every Celiac's gluten free life. The question I get asked most is 'What Gluten Free Flour do you use?" And the answer has changed over the years. I have tried mixing my own, I have tried every single commercial one out there and I have some favorites. To save you from spending your retirement fund on flour, I thought I would share my vast knowledge. 

The first thing to remember, is that you HAVE to add Xanthum or Guar gum to your flour. I usually add about a teaspoon or two. It doesn't have to be exact. Even if the mix HAS Guar gum in it, I still add it because it never feels like enough. Guar gum is much cheaper than Xanthum gum and I have never seen a difference. 

Another thing? Make sure it is a cup for cup replacement. That means, you can use any glutened recipe and just swap out the flour. 

Do you want to mix your own flour? Don't. Just Don't. There are lots of commercial options out there that will work much better, store better, give you a better product and be...drumroll...cheaper. Cheaper cheaper cheaper. That's what we are going for here. 

Pick your flour like you pick your hookers. Cheap but effective.

If you refuse to listen to me and want to mix your own flour, get the book "Gems of Gluten Free Baking" by Wendy Turnbull HERE. It is the best gluten free baking book out there and she has a great recipe for a GF flour mix. However, each one of her batches has to be refrigerated and costs about two dollars a cup. And that's Canadian, so like eight million for everyone else.

Are you over mixing your own flour? Good. Now get your pocket book and go to the store. Survey your options. Remain calm. Let's begin.

Option One: An organic mix like Red Mill. I like Red Mill products in general. I don't like how expensive it is and how small the bags are. Like, I am making cookies, for people, not fairies, give me a bag of flour! It works, but I find the end result to be a little tough. If you are insistent on a organic product, than this is the one for you. I figure, if I'm eating a cake, it's going to be shitty for me no matter what. Your choice.
 Option Two: Costco. Ahhhh the mecca of stocking food for the zombie apocalypse. Costco has a decent gluten free flour from Cloud Nine. I like it. It comes in a nice big bag, it's not expensive and it behaves very much like 'normal people' flour. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the coloring. I like the texture but the flour isn't white. It has this grey color to it, which is fine if you are making a cake or something but my sugar cookies looked a little sad. Overall though, a totally awesome choice.




Option Three: Bulk Barn (not pictured). I'm not mad at the Bulk Barn flour, it can feel a little gritty though. It's not my first choice, it's the cheapest though so if you are just using it to thicken sauces or in a batter, go for it. I wouldn't use it for baking cream puffs though. 

Option Four: President's Choice Gluten Free Flour. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner. Slap a crown on this bitch and start taking advantage of her good looks. This flour is great. It's bright white, soft and can make damn near anything. The President's Choice Gluten Free Flour is easy to work with, and people can not tell the difference between my baking and a glutened version of it. The ONLY thing I don't like is that it could come in a bigger package, that's it. I love it.





So there you have it. Your fascinating flour review for the day. Now go bake something and send it to me. Now. Go. I mean it. Now.