Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Do I Do Anything But Cook?

It doesn't seem like it, does it?

But yes, I do other things. I read. I do laundry. I keep things tidy. In the cooler months I do handwork (mostly crochet and loom knitting). We go for walks. This morning I cleaned the front bathroom really well (baseboards, etc.). Last night I baked gluten free vegan banana muffins...oh wait, that's cooking.

Cooking, however, is the main task of my day after homeschooling (which we're on break from right now). I could say that I could most everything from scratch because of the multiple food allergies we are dealing with (egg, dairy, soy, citrus, gluten, and a host of others), but the truth is that I cooked from scratch before. Maybe it is an offshoot of 11 years as a vegetarian/vegan, and 6 more eating a mostly vegan diet with occasional fish and egg consumption. Perhaps it stems from visits to restaurants such as Cafe Flora in Seattle, Greens in San Francisco, Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana, Native Foods...I do love to make the kind of meals you'd order at a great vegetarian restaurant.

Cooking has become supremely easy for me. At some point you do it often enough that you learn the chemistry of cooking. You learn about combining flavors, about carmelizing, about blanching, dicing, emulsifying. Cooking makes sense. Recipes are still fun, but not necessary for simple cooking. In fact, you learn to look at recipes, break them down, and change them to suit your preferences.

I'm not going to win a cook of the year award. I've found that the "superb cook" title usually goes to people who make a lot of fancy recipes and who use dairy products liberally. Honestly though, it takes more skill to cook without butter, cream, and cheese. You have to find other ways to carry the flavors. For me, making a tender, flavorful gluten free vegan muffin will be a success. Almost anyone can mix together wheat flour, eggs, sugar, spices to make a muffin...try to do it without the wheat flour and eggs! I love the challenge of making a good korma without cream, or "cream of" soup without milk. I can make tacos and tostadas that are so good that people forget that they don't have meat and cheese in/on them.

Okay, I'm tooting my own horn. Truthfully, I don't need to...Papa tells me daily how much he likes my cooking. Someday I hope my boys will appreciate the time I took preparing their meals, not only so that they would be nutritious but also so they would taste good.


  1. I was a GF chep for 2 full years. My ds was re-introduced to gluten just this past month and is showing no signs of an allergy. Yeah!

    But I know how hard it is. I had a wonderful muffin recipe that I got from the back of a Bob's red Mill baking mix (GF). I think it was Sue's muffins. I just made my own baking mix and used that recipe. I changed it up to make whatever recipe I wanted.

  2. That is fantastic for your son! We tried reintroduction after 9 months and he reacted right away. To top it off, I tested IgE positive for wheat and yeast. Gluten free is going to be a way of life for us for awhile yet.

    The hardest thing for us has been eliminating eggs. I tried gluten free vegan baking earlier this year, and it didn't work at all so we added in pastured eggs. Eggs made all the difference in turning out delicious GF baked goods. It was too good to be true; DS#2 had a positive IgE skin test for eggs.

    Last night's GF vegan muffins were better than acceptable, but not as delicious as I hope to make them. I used ground flaxseed instead of eggs and next time I am going to mix it with the water in my VitaMix and see if I can eliminate the "whole grain" taste it gave the muffins. They also weren't as tender as I would have liked, despite barely mixing the batter.