So Mother's Day is coming up at the end of this week, and I always find it's a pressing question, "what to buy". For the woman we love and who loves us most, you would think it's a simple proposition. But, coupled with her birthday, anniversary and winter holiday gifts, it's not always so easy to come up with something original.
If you have a mother, grandma, aunt or wife with celiac Disease, then the new Jax Peters Lowell book The Gluten Free Revolution is a fabulous gift option this year. It caught my eye in the New Releases section of my local library. A mammoth among the other health and wellness books. I always enjoyed Ms. Lowell's articles in gluten free magazines, which tended to have a poetic air about them, as opposed to the straight forward scientific manner in most such writings. So I was excited to see her new, comprehensive book. And, it doesn't disappoint, beginning with a poem on a glutenous subject! Her previous publication The Gluten-Free Bible, was amongst the earlier group of books in the gluten free trend in the past decade. Her name is familiar to any celiac, or those that love them!
The new tome is rather encyclopedic, ranging from such topics as dining out to school bullying. It contains five chapters of recipes from such luminaries as Alice Waters and Thomas Keller. The chapter titles stay true to Ms. Lowell's voice, with such whimsical titles as "Sprechen Sie Gluten?' and "Your Cheating Heart". Topics range from practical, such as where to buy gluten-free foods and how to ask for gluten-free food in Korean (including handy cards in foreign languages to take with you on your travels), to emotional issues like dating and dealing with holiday family dinners.
Overall the book is comprehensive, well referenced, varied and an excellent addition to any household with a celiac/gluten sensitive individual.
April 25th is a remembrance day in Australia and New Zealand for those soldiers that lost their lives in the invasion of Gallipoli during World War I. Almost as many soldiers died in this campaign as did the entire number of US troops during the Vietnam War. They have a special cookie sold during this time of year called ANZAC biscuits. What's an anzac? I wondered as I stared at the recipe in Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Holiday Baking Book. Maybe like anisette? Or something unknown like anadama bread. But no, ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps. And these cookies were popular to send to the troops when they invaded Gallipoli (which coincidentally is a new Russel Crowe movie that just came out), because of a lack of eggs (in short supply during wartime) they stayed well. The lack of eggs and chocolate, or anything "fragile" in them, were a good choice for this sturdy cookie to travel halfway around the world in a time before FEDEX and air mail! I fortuitously came across the recipe, when flipping through a recipe book on April 25th! I felt the coincidence was too great, and was equally compelled by the fact the recipe was naturally egg free. There is a small amount of flour, and I felt it would adapt well to subbing out all-purpose gluten free flour--and it did! Of course, you have to add a pinch of love, like the mom's (ok mum's...it was the British Commonwealth after all), who lovingly made and packed these to their dear boys (and let's not forget the nurses...maybe some gals too), so far away, accompanied by hope and prayer that they would see them again.
An interesting final tidbit, the Australian Minister for Veteran's Affairs must give permission for the term "ANZAC" to be used, and the cookies must be produced in accordance with the original recipe when sold commercially.
If you want to make this recipe vegan, use margarine instead of butter, evaporated cane juice and the corn syrup as listed. The original recipe did not call for Craisins, but I thought they were a nice addition.
2 cups uncooked old fashioned gluten free oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xantham gum
1 1/2 cups sugar or evaporated can juice (i.e. Florida Crystals)
1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) honey or light corn syrup or Lyle's Golden Syrup
6 Tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
Pre-heat the oven to 300F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the first 7 ingredients. Add the butter and honey, and beat on medium speed until well combine. In a small bowl, mix together the water and baking soda. Add to the mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the dried cranberries.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2-inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until light brown. Cool on baking sheets 10-30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
Yield: Approximately 4 dozen cookies