Gluten-Free Cookie Bars

King Arthur Gluten-Free Cookie MixOn Monday, my gluten-free pantry of packaged snacks was like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard…bare.   I have a six foot tall, 13 year old celiac with a hollow leg and when he walks in the house at 5pm with a wild-eyed, half-starved look in his eye, after skipping breakfast, eating lunch at 11am, following full school day and a two hour basketball try out, he will NOT be nominating me mother-of-the-year with cupboards lacking any gluten-free options.

Thankfully, I was pulling my creation from the oven…my gluten-free pan bars.  I had a box of King Arthur Flour cookie mix in the cupboard and I noticed that I had all of the “wet” ingredients handy.  I also have this laborious recipe for homemade, healthy oat and fruit bars that I really did not have the time to make.  What I did was prepare the cookie batter and use the essence of the oat and fruit bar recipe to come up with my own concoction.

I had leftover thinly sliced almonds and craisins from a Thanksgiving side dish.  I toasted the almonds on the stove top in my cast iron skillet and then dumped both ingredients into my cookie batter.  I had Trader Joe’s White Baking chips for making Peppermint Bark, so I tossed the vanilla chips into the cookie mix. I also had Glutenfreeda Apple Cinnamon instant oatmeal with flax so I dumped two packets of that into the mix as well.

I used my heavy duty bamboo spoon to incorporate all of those ingredients and then baked them up as pan bars. I had to guess at how long to bake it but all I know is that I pulled it out from the oven and barely got the pan onto the counter before hungry man was scooping out a massive corner wedge onto a plate.

Of course, you are supposed to let it sit and cool but he happily ate a pile of hot cookie crumble.

Everyone tried a properly cooled and cut cookie bars after dinner and by Tuesday afternoon the entire pan was eaten.   I did not follow either one of the recipes as they were written, but sometimes kitchen experiments turn out to be something worth repeating.


Honey Based Comb Vodka

comb-vodkaIt is Friday, almost 5:45pm and I am thinking about the weekend. More importantly, I am thinking about the new bottle of Comb Vodka and the lime and the club soda that are in the pantry.

I think of vodka as one of those “safe” alcohols in terms of gluten, but this particular vodka really is safe because it is distilled from a honey base. I had heard about it through connections right here in my home town but only tried it when I went to a burger place in a neighboring town that has hundreds of craft beers. This burger place did have a gluten-free beer, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a filling beer when I was going to be stuffing my face with a burger and French fries.

I saw the Comb Vodka and ordered it with soda and a lime. It was really refreshing and really hit the spot with my burger choice! The vodka is smooth, with a hint of sweet that paired nicely with a squeeze of lime.

Some vodkas just make you shiver when you taste it because the alcohol is so overpowering. I’m not sure that is related to price tag or ingredients! Comb Vodka is a real find when you just don’t want a cider or a beer or a glass of wine. So, it’s time to power down and start the weekend. I will be ordering regular pizza and gluten free pizzas to be delivered just after the last soccer practice ends and then mixing up a lovely cocktail to switch into a mellower mood.

Happy Friday!

Gluten-Free Matzo

Days like today are so quiet at work and it is a wonderful time to catch up. I have put files together and sorted out big piles of paper and drafted some marketing ideas. The sun was shining through my window, the kids were busy enjoying the warm day and, for me, today was a gift of a quiet phone and quiet email inbox.

The other thing that I have accomplished was pretty much scarfing down this entire box of gluten-free matzo while sitting at my desk! I wish I could find these easily all year long because this matzo is delicious. For those of us who have missed a “saltine” style of cracker, the Yehuda gluten-free matzo are light, crisp and salty. Of course, they serve a much higher purpose than a much loved salty snack for a celiac!

I hope everyone enjoys family time this weekend at Passover and Easter celebrations. Come Monday, I will have way too much Easter candy tempting me so I am going to run out and stock up a few boxes of gluten-free matzo!

Restaurant Dilemma

Recently I was out to dinner with someone who had made the reservation ahead of time and had alerted the restaurant that someone at the table would need a gluten-free meal. The restaurant assured the patron that they very much understood “gluten-free” and would easily be able to accommodate the diet.

As we sat down, the server was handed a card by our hostess indicating the need for a gluten-free meal and she promptly asked who needed menu information. I indicated that I was the diet challenged individual and the server then proceeded to go through the menu with me.

I loved her line, “You may think you can’t eat the scallops but you can and you may think you can eat the pomes frites but you can’t.” I was totally impressed but also thoroughly bummed about the pomes frites, so I pressed for more information.

“Why can’t I eat the pomes frites?”

“They are fried in the same oil as our crispy onions, which are slivered onions dusted in flour and then quickly fried.”

That explained it, but I was torn. I really wanted the pomes frites, so I took the immature route and played the parts per million game in my head. It’s called the “I-can-rationalize-any-sort-of-diet-kerfuffle-and-make-the-gluten-disappear-by-denial-that-gluten-could-possibly-be-present-in-the-thing-I-want-to-eat game. It’s a game I play often with soy sauce, one draft beer from a bar and things fried in shared oil.

Of course there could be traces of gluten in the pomes frites from the oil, but would there be more than 20 parts per million in one serving? Pomes frites do not have any gluten containing ingredients, but they share cooking oil with something dusted in flour. The thought bubble in a cartoon image of me would have said, “If I don’t have pomes frites, I will end up very hungry at the end of this meal of grilled salmon and salad…possibly tipsy too since neither will soak up the wine we just ordered.”

All of this was like Ping Pong in my brain and then I made my decision…what would you have done? What do you think I did?

Fairway Market

I have been in a grumbling kind of mood about New York…the Times Square incident, the ridiculous taxes and our embarrassing accidental governor. But then something amazing happens and I think “wow” this is a great place to live.

This big “happening” was the grand opening of Fairway in Pelham Manor, NY. Fairway is this colossuses of a market with a huge organic produce section, the greatest fresh pickles, unparalled ethic selections, gourmet prepared foods, a fantastic butcher, fabulous fish and good prices. I did not allow myself enough time to fully explore the store.

The way they organized the grocery section was also a bit unusual. A center aisle divided traditional grocery selections from ethnic and organic selections. Any ex-pat missing foods from home should visit Fairway…I picked up Wine Gums, which are the most delicious gummy candy from the UK.

When I saw this arrangement, I held out hope that there might be a gluten-free section and Fairway did not disappoint. There was a large freezer area with the most diverse selection of gluten-free food I have ever seen under one roof.

There was also a huge selection of crackers, cookies, pretzels, snack foods and pasta in a grocery section that ironically was displayed next to the organic dog food. But, I digress, in all reality I don’t care what gluten-free food sits next to on a store shelf, if I can reduce my grocery store shopping to one stop per week, that is thrilling.

I am picky about my meat, fish, dairy and produce. I cook a lot of meals and I want fresh, unprocessed food. Pickiness plus food issues means that grocery store shopping is a multi-stop process and who has time for that? Fairway is a little out of my way, but for the first time ever there is a store that could be my true “one-stop-shop” market. For a working mom, that’s a fabulous gift.

Catered by Costco

Life in the ‘burbs often involves Costco. Those of us living here use the phrase “catered by Costco” when prepping for team dinners, BUNCO or book group nights or throwing a big party.

Recently, my family’s gluten-free dinner was catered by Costco! I was pleasantly surprised to see many prepared foods with a label indicating that the product was gluten-free or had no ingredients containing gluten. I picked up two rotisserie chickens, carrot and potato soufflés and a salad. Dinner was ready upon re-heating the soufflés and tossing the salad.

Those were not the only entrées available, pulled pork or chicken meatballs could have been on the table for supper! Plus, there’s always a huge selection of gluten-free snack foods like hummus, guacamole, tzatziki and loads of cheese. Over the month of December, I sustained myself on this incredible block of French goat milk cheese, this delicious cinnamon/ sugar pecan and craisin mix and these addictive peppery pistachios.

Of course, there is gluten-free junk food available too. I bought this monster bag of popped BBQ flavor chips that do not contain gluten. So many varieties of BBQ chips do have wheat on the label, but this brand of popped chips specifically said “no gluten.”

As I did my kid drop offs and pickups yesterday, I told my celiac to try the BBQ chips to see what he thought. Well, he accidentally ate the other junk food chips I had purchased for lunch boxes, the individually packaged baked BBQ chips that very much contain wheat and say so right on the label.

Poor guy was so sheepish when I held up the right bag and asked him what he thought…he told me he ate the other ones and then asked me if they had wheat. So, we now have reinforced the “double-check” rule about labels. He has to take a look at the label before eating just to double check because there are four other people in our household who are able to eat wheat so our pantry is a mixed bag.

In the meantime, I’ll be back at Costco soon if I want a night off from preparing a gluten-free dinner or if I have another month where I need some “gluten-free-get-through-the-day-reward-myself” French goat milk cheese.