Quite frankly, sometimes I get tired of social networking sites and ponder quitting them all. I regularly get invitations to join new ones, but I think Flickr-Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn is enough . . . if not too much. Especially when you add in the daily onslaught of email (which I love reading, but boy, am I often bad about responding) and blogging (where I always wish I got more comments and often wonder who’s reading or caring, even when I can see the number of readers).
But sometimes they are worthwhile. Sometimes I make a connection or reconnection on one of them, and I think, “Ah, this is why I do this.” That happened recently when Carrie (also known as Ginger Lemon Girl) and I chatted on Twitter about her idea for a savory cookie recipe. When she created one, she ended up making it not only gluten-free but also dairy-free and egg-free to be sure I would be able to try it after her. Then she emailed me the recipe to get my thoughts. I was, of course, very flattered, and I made the ‘cookies’ that night–with a few adjustments based on her notes. I emailed her my notes, and we emailed further about other changes we would make. It was all quite satisfying–the kind of exchange that answers, for me at least, whether purely online interaction can build community. (What, you haven’t been having that conversation? Hmmm, maybe your particular brand of geekdom hasn’t involved double-majoring in sociology and anthropology.)
My friend Karen is one of the people I’ve met by happenstance. She worked for a little while with a friend of mine at a bookstore (a stop-gap measure in employment in both of their lives), and she and her husband came to a party Dan and I were also attending. Karen and I connected there, but her sweet husband had a migraine and they left early. When we reconnected at the next party, well, that was kinda it. We became fast friends with many mutual interests and beliefs–among them, a desire to eat healthfully and to support local agriculture.
Then Dan and I moved across the country . . . less than a year later. Karen was one of the people I was saddest to leave behind, and we both got teary talking about it a couple of times before my moving day arrived. So I committed to myself that I would not lose touch with Karen. I talk to her on the phone about once a week–which is saying something, because I generally hate talking on the phone. With Karen, time on the phone just flies by as we dig into this topic and that one.
Another way we’re keeping in touch is by sharing recipe suggestions over email. We have some food allergens in common, we’re both trying to control the impact of sugar on our lives, and we both enjoy cooking and baking. The recipe I altered today started with one that Karen wrote up and emailed to me after making it herself. Karen got the (wheat-based) recipe from the cookbook Vegan Brunch. I believe her version had bananas and chocolate chips, and I went another route using local blueberries and marmalade. But I knew the base of the recipe was good, because I trust Karen’s judgment.
I have missed butterscotch blondies. I never ate them terribly frequently–they seemed to pop up primarily as Christmas goodies where I grew up–but when I ate them, oh, how I loved them. Sweet, rich, creamy, chewy, a touch grainy–delicious. There are things you miss when you’re gluten-free, certainly, but when you add in additional restrictions, what you miss multiplies rapidly. Being gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free means I haven’t found a fascimile of butterscotch that’s worth eating. Butterscotch is, after all, primarily made from butter, and it’s the cooking of that butter that creates the delightful taste.
But these ‘butterscotch’ blondie brownies–they are good. Dan’s non-allergic and sometimes picky family members ate the whole pan in less than 24 hours.
A friend requested that I post a cracker recipe on this blog. Gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free crackers are hard to come by in the grocery store, and most of the ones that exist taste like cardboard. Fortunately, crackers are actually pretty easy to make, and boy howdy, are people impressed when you make them from scratch. When I’ve served homemade crackers at parties, people have inevitably oohed and ahhed over just how very homemade-chic I am to have bothered to make something so basic from scratch. It’s all rather hilarious.
In part because of flavor, and perhaps in part because of texture, gluten-free crackers tend to be heavy on the nuts. I’ve done a lot of nut-based postings lately, so I thought I would switch it up and offer a nut-free cracker recipe. I like the flavor of chickpea flour in Indian flatbreads, so I started with chickpea flour and then added what I wanted to taste/feel in them. I don’t consider this recipe perfected, but the crackers are downright tasty (and my husband says they’re simply great). I’ve changed up the recipe I’m including here from the one I used to shift the seasonings how I will when I make them next time. Feel free to change up the seasonings to suit your own cravings.
I don’t generally make 20-minute meals. I tend to opt for dishes that have me working in the kitchen for an hour plus. But today’s recipe—a dairy-free, soy-free Alfredo sauce—made for one quick lunch yesterday. I put asparagus in the oven to roast, and I put a covered, large pot of salted water on to boil for gluten-free pasta. While I waited on the water to boil, I washed spinach, peeled an orange, sliced an avocado, and made a mustard-citrus dressing for the salad. When the water was boiling hard, I put the pasta in and stirred it around. I flipped the roasting asparagus and then put the ingredients for the pasta sauce in the food processor. When the pasta was cooked, I scooped out the pasta water I wanted for my sauce, I set the food processor running, and I drained and rinsed the pasta. I tossed the pasta with the sauce, pulled the asparagus out of the oven, put tongs in the salad, and voila! Lunch in less than half an hour.
Oh, and this easy sauce was tasty enough that my non-gluten-free, non-allergic friend who was over for lunch got seconds.
I love getting blog comments. Everyone does, right? I especially love when someone reports that a post has really resonated with her (usually her) or that she has used one of my recipes to make something she thought she had lost. It’s such a thrill to know that my words and work make someone else’s life more understandable, more meaningful, or more pleasurable. So I was very pleased, last week, when I got a response to my Like-PF Chang’s Orange Peel Chicken recipe (gluten-free, etc., natch), where Kerr said (in part):
THANK YOU!! My half Korean husband was ecstatic. He even broke out into song once…. =) After 4 years of cooking for our multiple allergen and celiac daughter, we were enraptured to eat something that tasted like it was straight out of our favorite, and sadly avoided, Asian restaurant! Hats off to you!
Then she went on to say: Now… off to see if you have a sesame orange chicken recipe…
That, dear readers, is a challenge to me. It’s a bit like a dare. Growing up, I would never turn down dares. I quit taking on all dares without question after my friend Amy dared me to drink 10 shots of vodka in a row when we were in college. (I did. I got very sick. She cried. Thank you, Robbie and Jill, for taking care of me that night, and thank you, Amy, for cleaning up after me the next day.) But I still love a good worthwhile challenge, so after I got Kerr’s comment, I started pulling up orange chicken and orange sesame chicken recipes to see how difficult it would be to make them gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free.