Baking gluten free for the first time

My brother-in-law got remarried last week to a truly sweet, wonderful woman and she’ll be a real asset to my husband’s side of our family. She and I bonded right away and I look forward to many more family get-togethers with her. But she’s now providing us with a challenge we haven’t previously dealt with; she has Celiac disease, which is essentially gluten intolerance. We’ve been really lucky that we have never had to worry about any food allergies or “intolerances” in the past, but now, going forward, we’re going to have to be much more aware of what we cook and how it’s prepared to make sure it’s not contaminated with any wheat proteins.

So yesterday was their small family wedding reception and everyone was supposed to bring a dessert. I decided to make gluten-free brownies in her honor and to show that we are taking on the challenge. My cousin-in-law also decided to make something gluten-free, but I don’t know that anyone else did – Yay for us! 

I did my homework. I looked up what chocolate I could use and what double-checked every label of my ingredients to make sure it was okay – except one thing. I put my first batch together and sprayed a mini-muffin pan so that I could make brownie bites. Then I filled each cavity about 3/4 full and baked them. Then I thought, “hmm, I didn’t look at that cooking spray” and, sure enough, the label says it may contain wheat traces. Damn! I dumped the whole batch into the garbage. And, to be honest, I didn’t care too much for some of the flavoring I added so I made a second batter and changed up the recipe a little bit.

I was going to add butterscotch morsels but then I read the label and realized that the butterscotch contains barley malt. So I just added milk & semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter. (I used unsweetened Baker’s chocolate for the batter – which is safe – but the Baker’s bittersweet chocolate is made with alkali processing and that ISN’T safe). I owe a lot of my homework to Labelwatch.com, by the way. This time instead of using cooking spray I used mini-cupcake liners. I also decided to dust the brownies with powdered sugar and discovered that SOME powdered sugars can have added wheat-based fillers so it’s important to check the label of the powdered sugar you are using.

I took the brownies to the party and my new sister-in-law tried them and LOVED them. She raved about them and made sure to give some to her mom who is also gluten intolerant. Yay!

I now have gluten-free flour in my pantry for future baking endeavors, but I’m sure it’s going to be tough to always double-check what I can and can’t use in my dishes to allow her to eat the food we provide. It’s a good challenge though! So many people are gluten-intolerant now that it’s something we all need to be aware of when we entertain.

UPDATE: my new sis-in-law is now asking me for the recipe. I call that a success! 

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Eeek! Falling down on the job

For a beginning blogger I’m not doing a very good job, am I? I’ve been woefully neglectful! 

In my defense, it was Thanksgiving week and we had company for 7 days, I was off work for 5 days, and we made a very quick 16 hour roundtrip drive/relatives-visit in there as well. But my family just left 30 minutes ago and the turkey & pumpkin pie are almost all gone so I guess it’s time to tune back in to reality. 

Before reality sets in, can I just muse on how absolutely wonderful it was to have my family with us this week? It was my mom & stepdad. My mom is wonderful. She’s SUCH a mom, and grandma. It’s her true calling. That and talking – her nickname is Chatty Cathy because she can talk up anybody. Truly, it’s a gift. I am infinitely more reserved.

When my mom visits, or I visit her, she takes care of ME. Who else does that? My husband . . . sometimes, but he’s busy. You know how it is. But my mom – she worries about me, asks me what she can do to help, and generally just pitches in to make my life a little better during our time together. I’m so lucky to have her! And she’s such a good, supportive, loving grandma. She kisses, hugs, and spoils all of us. She & my stepdad are such gems and I’m one very lucky girl to have them. ❤


So I’m writing today with some sadness, after saying goodbye to them, and some worry since we’re having a snowstorm this morning and they had to leave in it. I hope they make it safely to their destination tonight; I’ll be on pins and needles until I know they are safe.

But I’m also feeling loved, safe and secure today too. They provide us with so much – love, money, and just plain old always-here-for-you support. My family is full of problem-solvers and I love them for it! Generally when I call my mom to discuss an issue before I have even explained the problem she’s saying, “well, could you do this? or what about this?” So we’ve spent the last week discussing, mulling, and agreeing on different things we can do to solve various problems and, really, that’s a gift in itself, right? Just someone to HELP. To talk to and say, “what do you think?” *sigh* I love them.

I have to put a halt to this missive for now; domestic goddess duties are calling. I have to take my boys to a wedding reception tonight and I’m making something gluten-free to bring with me. I’m off to find a gluten-free brownie recipe! Then maybe I’ll blog about that too. 😉 I know I’m going to add cherries and coffee to it for sure. Stay tuned.

Oh, and happy holidays!