Cooking. Sorcery. Dark (delicious) magic. Pre-diagnosis, they were all the same to me. After all, I failed equally at each and, whenever I tried, I ended up drowning in smoke.
So, when I think of the cooking experimentation that I've already embarked on this summer, I can't help but smile. Immediately after diagnosis, my diet changed in small ways. No gluten, lots of new veggies (who knew cauliflower and avocado could be so addicting?) and, as I've already ranted about multiple times, simple substitutions like banana nice cream!
Now, though, I'm over dipping only my toe in the water. If I don't jump in to gluten free baking with the same survival-based passion that my diagnosis triggered, how will I ever swim with the big gluten free bakers? And so, petrified, I bought my first bread and pizza mixes. And I actually used them!
For bread, after scanning an aisle full of bags promising the perfect GF loaf, I decided on Pamela's. Then I hurried to the kitchen to get my Pamela on.
The actual baking wasn't bad. The instructions were simple to follow, though I substituted my own arm power (biceps and triceps work out anyone?) for my non-existent high speed mixer. What's a broke college kid gonna do? And my bread actually looked promising from the time I popped it in the oven to its transfer on the cooling rack. Mom and I couldn't believe our luck...until we watched it deflate an hour later.
We laughed, I (inwardly) cried, but two slices later, we deemed the droopy, slightly goopy bread a success! Especially when, a week later, we re-purposed the leftover bread in a kick-butt apple cinnamon bread pudding. My life with celiac has been all about flexibility, creativity and change - cooking with it is no different!
|My favorite kind of fail!|
The most magical experiment happened this week, though, with the birth of my first homemade gluten free pizza crust. Before my diagnosis, the thought of using a pizza dough mix would never enter my mind. It was one of those mysterious acts that only a true chef could achieve. With our favorite pre-made crust (Schars) out of stock, though, this pizza-lover had no choice but to turn on the Bob's Red Mill flour power.
Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I mixed the ingredients in the wrong order (sorry yeast!) and spreading the dough balls (sticky despite hours of refrigeration) seemed acrobatic. The saving grace of my Mom and I? Remembering an old tip to cover and stretch the dough through a layer of plastic wrap. Clean fingers and (surprisingly circular) crusts!
When we popped our babies in the oven (first naked, then topping-coated), all I hoped for was an edible ending. Boy was I wrong...it was the finest slice of saucy goodness this tongue has ever touched!
Our crusts were fluffy pillows with crunchy edges. They held their own with our toppings, and the crusts rose so much, we actually want to use even more layers on our next pies! I ate leftover pizza four days in a row and I was totally fine with that! And, during those four days, I couldn't stop ranting about our culinary success!
Magic can mean many things, but to me, nothing has been more magical than my time in the kitchen this summer. Celiac disease has kicked gluten out of my diet and - I'm not going to sugarcoat it (pun intended) - sometimes I feel deprived. But no more.
These baking ventures have enriched my taste buds, but also my life. Now, it's my old fears of cooking inadequacy and failure that have turned into smoke. And there's nothing more magical than that.
*This post can also be found at RunningwithSpoon's link party and Glutenfreefrugal's Allergy Free Wednesday link party!*
Has celiac changed your attitude towards cooking? What are your favorite gluten free recipes? Comment below!