For my birthday this year, my lovely best friends/sorority sisters, Ashley and Letishia bought me a gift certificate for a GF baking class. So Monday night, despite the glacially cold meteorological conditions, I drove downtown to the Cookbook Co. (722 – 11 Ave SW) In there is a wicked cooking store that has everything from gadgets and aprons to truffle oil and fine wine. In the back is a brightly lit room for the cooking classes.
I do have to say, because I always promised to be honest, that the staff at the Cookbook Co were not the most pleasant. No one greeted me, or looked in any way happy to see me. When I inquired to the first person I saw wearing an apron as to whether or not I was in the right place, she just stared at me and pointed to the sign on the wall that stated the name of the class. Her face could not be more clear, “can you read lady?” They did offer me coffee but when one lady brought it, the other one just pointed at me and said, “that one wanted coffee”. They weren’t very smiley or pleasant and certainly not very helpful to our instructor. They just really didn’t seem to want to be there.
However, our instructor was Wendy Turnbull who is the author of, “Gems of Gluten Free Baking.” Wendy was charming and affable. She was a little nervous which made her all the more delightful in my opinion. She also knew her stuff. Being Celiac for over 30 years means that Wendy has baking down to a science and so she wrote a book about it. I highly recommend “Gems of Gluten Free Baking” – she has developed a mixture of flours called “Gem Flour” that seems to work for almost everything. The recipes have simple, normal ingredients and make delicious food.
So as I was sitting there, I noticed that everyone was in pairs, and immediately regretted not inviting a friend. I didn’t want everyone to split up into duos, only to be the only single one and have to be paired up with the instructor. I had horrible flashbacks to grade 6 gym when I had to do the box step with the gym teacher Mr. Smith. Just in case you ever needed to know, he smelt like fish. Suddenly, a voice behind me says, “Is this seat taken?” and standing there, by some fluke-ish twist of fate is another sorority sister of mine, Ardith. Now Ardith is very well known and loved by the sisters of Alpha Gamma Delta because frankly, she’s extraordinary. If I were lucky enough to be invited to the next Royal Wedding, I would call Ardith to tell me what to wear and what to bring as a gift. If I were involved in an international hostage situation and I needed a negotiator, I would call Ardith. Add that with a quick sense of humor and a huge heart, and you have Ardith. Aridith’s young daughter has been diagnosed with Celiacs which would be much harder than my situation. It’s hard enough feeding my sorry ass but it would be so daunting to try to keep a kid happy and fed. Ardith has become a Celiac superstar for her daughter - producing GF dumplings, home-made gluten free crackers and even a GF angel food cake! She’s just awesome. So we had a wonderful time at the class; we shared stories, recipes and plenty of giggles.
One of the best things that happened at the class is that something went wrong! I know it sounds like I am being a mean nasty bitch but really, I was thrilled. Wendy Turnbull went to make a quick loaf of bread and she let it rise too long and it failed. It still tasted fine but it looked like every loaf of GF bread I have ever tried to make. She obviously knew that it wasn’t going to come out well and warned us all to that effect. So now I know what I have been doing wrong. As she put the loaf in the oven, Wendy just shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t bet on that one,” and I fell in love with her. It was great to know that even to the experts, GF baking is tricky and it was great to see why it sometimes goes all to hell. Like I always say, Celiacs reminds us that life isn’t perfect and it’s actually better that way.
So even though the Cookbook Co. had an off day, they certainly made the right decision in getting Wendy Turnbull in. I have her signed cook book and I will update you on my future baking attempts. I can only assume that it will be laughable even if it does turn out.