Tag Archives: gluten-free

Pamela and Bernadette — the flour and the fiction

Dang, guys… you and your friends and your mom and your dog are all basically freaking awesome. I write some of the craziest, silliest, saddest, weirdest, yet super honest, stuff and you’re awesome about it. Every time. The more whatever-est it is, the more supportive you (and your friends and mom and dog) are and I’m so super grateful. Huge props from me… and my therapist, who agrees that the catharsis of Under the Tapestry is probably the number one factor keeping me out of the loony bin. I mean, I assume he’d agree based on his positive comments regarding the post and the response to it. However, “loony bin” isn’t a phrase he tends to use all that often (i.e. ever– professionalism or whatever). So thanks for that. I’ll let you know either way in a couple of weeks and we can all cry happy or sad tears, eat happy or sad ice cream (with lactaid), and think happy or sad thoughts together.

When I say cathartic, I mean it, and it’s amazing how fessing up to that one dark moment seems to have released so many additional words that have been queuing up for a while. (Queuing because it’s my goal in life to become British. Obviously.)

So with the exception of on-the-internet I am, in all other respects, an introvert, which means, for the most part, I don’t love social situations on account of I’m incredibly awkward. Seriously.

Except it’s a little more nuanced than that because I don’t find being overly familiar with someone whose willing to be overly familiar right back a problem. For example, I’ll probably make a lame joke if we try to talk about the weather for 10 minute at a party, but if I run into you in the bathroom and you confess that you’re suffering from diarrhea, we’re basically going to hit it off right away. Probably I’ll tell you about all the GI distress I’ve struggled with and we’ll laugh and say, “ha ha ho ho hee hee– clearly we were meant to meet like this!”

(Quick fun fact– I just got a text from a brand new, way too quickly overly familiar friend that said “Well let’s just say maybe our meeting was meant to be.” With the exception of the “ha ha ho ho hee hee” I’m basically just writing from real life, yo.)

Books are what makes my introvert heart particularly happy because when you have read the same book as someone, you automatically have an intimate connection that you don’t have with just any random person on the street– no GI involvement necessary. And I think, after much consideration, that is why I like book clubs so very, very, very much.

It’s a social situation, that’s awkward, but it’s a bunch of other people who read the same book as you which means their mind has been in that same storied place and let every one of the same words and characters and thoughts and ideas tumble around in their brain just like you did. Maybe even some different thoughts or ideas about the very same words and characters. That’s intimacy right there. It’s also something non-small to talk about. An introvert-who-paradoxically-also-craves-social-connection’s dream.

So I basically love book clubs. I love everything about them. Everything except the social anxiety inducing process of identifying potential members, inviting identified potential members, and hosting a get together with all accepting invited identified potential members.

I guess you could say that it’s getting to the point of comfort with people that we can begin to relate over books that’s the hard part.

Despite the my awkwardness and the necessity to participate in uncomfortable activities (like talking to other humans who didn’t already know about my secret nerdiness) to get to the good part, I managed to start a third book club and we met for the first time a couple weeks ago to discuss The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.


Everything about a book club is truly a celebration of the nerd-tastic to me and I spared no expense on Saturday. While reading the book on my Kindle, I highlighted any mention of the snacks and drinks served by each host. At game time, I noted the highlights, looked up recipes, and managed (with the tremendous help of my dear friend Amy) to whip up a feast fit for even the picky perfectionist Jocelyn. Granted, we’re not classy enough for the wine selections mentioned in the book… but everything else! Moscato and sweet white and sparkling pink to be served over ice (am I making your teeth hurt?) for my crew!

We had creme de menthe squares and lemon bars and molasses cookies and almond crescent cookies and cheese and crackers and venison sausage (Wisconsin, yo… and Matt got a deer!) and bottle after bottle after bottle of delicious wine.

It was a delicious menu, to be sure, but I was a bit concerned going into the event because I didn’t just want to make and serve it all… I also wanted to eat it all! So I endeavored to make as much as I could gluten-free and dairy-free. That’s where Pamela comes in…

Pamela the miracle worker.

Pamela the business-woman.

Pamela the magician and creator of the most amazing gluten-free flour I’ve ever tried:

Pamela’s All Purpose Flour – Artisan Blend

It says it can be substituted cup for cup for regular flour. Hard to believe, but in this case, finally true. The lemon bars, molasses cookies, and almond crescent cookies were all amazing… I don’t even think you’d know the difference if I didn’t tell you (although Seth swears that he can). Huge victory for me and by little buddy Noah this Christmas season– can’t wait to share all the recipes with his mom!

So Pamela was the first champ of the evening. I cannot recommend that amazing four highly enough if you struggle to bake gluten free!

And then came Bernadette. Not a flour. She’s the fiction.

At book club, people came and went… some stayed the whole time, others popped in for a bit and left early, but once everyone was all gathered around in my living room (doh! not enough comfy chairs!) we popped the movie version of the Jane Austen Book Club in and watched for our friends who hadn’t had a chance to read the whole book.

It’s the same general story, of course, by the characters in the movie were basically mutilated… especially Prudie’s poor husband Dean who really got the short end of the movie stick, I must say. But besides that, at the end of the night, as five girls remained (some of us tipsy, myself included), four of whom were introverts (Amy, let’s face it, you’re as extroverted as they come), we all decided that the best character in the movie, the one we all endeavor to be like, was Bernadette.

Granted, book Bernadette was probably a good twenty years older than movie Bernadette, but that didn’t change the fact that she was a woman who was 100% comfortable in her own skin… no matter what. And we all loved that. Who wouldn’t?

Maybe someday it will be the norm for us, that level of self-comfort. I hope so! But more importantly… it is my sincere hope that we, at the very least, become that way around one another in relatively short order. Wine will help at first, of course. Wine and gluten-free cookies. But a bunch of introverts out of their shell on account of books? Seems like a recipe for comfort to me.

Perhaps someday I’ll even write all of us into a book. A couple of teachers, an environmental policy specialist, a science writer, some doctors, a nurse, a healthcare administrator… and the recurring and fascinatingly flighty Sister Doctor. You’ll read it, right? Somebody’s going to need to start breeding dogs and dating a sci-fi enthusiast… then we’ll have it down.

gobble, gobble… gluten-free gingerbread recipe

Great news, everyone! Curly really loves gingerbread…

Curly with Blanket

…little punk.

Except who can blame her?! I make seriously good gingerbread cookies.

I recognize that people typically think of gingerbread in terms of the little gingerbread man and a Christmas cookie. Or as a Shrek character. (Not the gumdrop buttons!!!)

Gingerbread for me, however, has long been a Thanksgiving staple thanks to my Grandma Rita’s famous turkey cookies. More good news, though– once upon a time, my Grandma Rita gave me her cookie cutter and since then, I’ve made my own gingerbread turkeys every year!!

Gingerbread is delicious, of course, and already kind of win because the Betty Crocker Cookbook recipe is dairy-free (shortening– better living through chemistry!) and the spices are just the most perfect combination of holidays ever imaginable– cinnamon and ginger and cloves and allspice. MMMM! They’re just so good!

So I made some this year:

Oh snap! Look at these little beauties! Soft and chewy and spicy and delicious!
Oh snap! Look at these little beauties! Soft and chewy and spicy and delicious!

And people were impressed, but I was so so so sad because they smelled so very, very delicious, but I knew I shouldn’t eat them… all gluten full and all. (Note: I did eat one– the one that Curly licked. We share lots of germs, Curly and me… but no more! We packed them up real fast after her little tongue found its way up on the table.) So I was desperate to find a gluten free dairy free recipe for gingerbread cut out cookies. And on Thanksgiving Eve I had great, great, great success!!

A Thanksgiving miracle…

I haven’t actually shared any recipes in this venue in the past, but I thought maybe this one was worthy of it. Maybe it should be a separate section of the old blog if it ends up being something more frequent, but we’ll see…

So! Real quick! I present to you:

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Gingerbread Cookies

3 1/2 cups Pamela’s Gluten Free Flour Blend (omg, this stuff is a-freaking-mazing)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup molasses
12 Tbsp shortening (oh Crisco, how I love you and your dairy-free-ness) + 2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp dairy-free milk substitute (I used almond)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together brown sugar, shortening, and water. Add non-milk milk and molasses and mix until well-blended. Add soda, salt, and spices. Add flour and mix until lovely, soft, pliable dough forms. It’ll be like that– real nice.

Roll out dough on floured surface with floured rolling pin, just like any other cut out cookies, even the gluten full kind. Cut out cookies and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes (10 was perfect, perfect, perfect).

Look how nice they turned out! Oy! And so delicious!!

Gluten-free gingerbread-- just like the real thing! No joke! So good!
Gluten-free gingerbread– just like the real thing! No joke! So good!

So, to give credit where credit’s due… this recipe is essentially a mash-up of my original favorite from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (which I highly recommend using if gluten does not present an issue for you) and Pamela’s Gingerbread Cookies (which would probably be fine as written except who wants to go out and buy Pamela’s Bread Mix just to make cookies when flour is already in da hiz-ouse… plus, gingerbread with no allspice? puh-leez!).

For the fancy turkey frosting, I just used the stuff that comes in a can and goes on sale this time of year. Mini chocolate chip eye balls on the regular cookies, left off on the others since chocolate chips aren’t dairy-free. Those bitty little red hots are super delicious on them too. I hope you bake them… I hope you love them!!

Most importantly, I hope you had a lovely turkey day and that someday we can spend it together munching on deliciously spiced gingerbread turkey cookies!


PS: Brown paper grocery bags with the bottoms cut off and opened up on the table make the best ever liners for fresh out of the oven cookies. My mom’s been doing it forever and ever and it’s basically genius! Try it next time!