It came about after a strange "A ha!" moment of realization that until then, I'd spent most of my life in rigid self-control and structure; and thus, had likely missed a life enriched by unexpected adventure and opportunistic flights.
So I began to get lost. And I was always rewarded with the new experiences and the unique things that emerged because I travelled without a compass.
For the last fifteen months, I've been pretty lost, mostly without choice. So lost I had no idea how to document the trip. The journey has been devastating, humbling and revelatory. Concurrent to the trio of deaths of those whom I loved was an illness from which my younger son was suffering; an illness that remained unknowable, defiant of diagnosis or comprehension until I was finally able to unmask it. And the initial fears, while not necessarily unfounded, were not as shattering or as overwhelming as I had originally thought. But while his struggle is not nearly as difficult as autism or a similar developmental disorder, it does fall in the same biologic chain; and I learned that one of the things I could do to help him was to change his diet.
So thirty days ago, I changed my son's menu completely.
No more gluten. No more dairy (or more specifically, casein). No more soy.
I, who have worshipped at the altar of butter and cream; who have swooned in baguette and cookie heaven; who have looked to Julia Child as a my culinary North Star...could no longer feed my child the things that I thought made life most worthwhile.
Sometimes, it feels like karmic retribution for all the times I sneered at vegans and preened in priggish joy at my ability to consume anything without ill effect (oh the joy of third world bacteria with which to line one's cast iron stomach).
But in the last thirty days of learning to remake his favorite foods, reading new blogs to educate myself and starting from scratch in so many ways, I realize that in getting lost, I've entered the wonderland of an entirely new cooking and baking body of knowledge.
I'm having epic fails in the kitchen. But it's okay. Because I'm learning. And when something goes right, it's all I can do not to dance a little.
Baby loves chocolate chip cookies. So this was the first thing I had to learn how to make for him. Gluten free recipes were easy. Finding vegan chips that were soy-less were harder, but they turned up as well. And the results? Close to the real thing.
If you want to give me directions, point me to blogs and recipes and books I should know about, or people I should meet on this journey, please do.
But it's okay. I don't mind. I like to peregrinate.
This is modified from the King Arthur recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies to fit our soy-free and casein-free needs as well.
- 1 cup ghee, softened (also known as clarified butter, in which butter has been slowly heated and milk solids are strained, removing casein)
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 t vanilla paste (or 2 t gluten free vanilla extract)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 t salt
- 2 1/3 cups King Arthur Gluten free multi-purpose flour*
- 1 t xanthan gum
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups vegan, soy-free semi-sweet chips (I used Enjoy Life's semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sift together the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda and baking powder.
3. Beat the ghee with the brown sugar, the cane sugar, the salt and vanilla paste until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, making sure they are well blended in the batter. Reduce speed to medium and add in the dry ingredients. Add in the chips.
4. Refrigerate the batter until firm, about 30 minutes.
5. Scoop the dough onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet; use a cookie scoop for nice, uniform balls of cookie dough and place the dough about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart so they won't melt into each other.
6. Bake for 10 minutes until the cookie is brown. Remove from the oven, and let them rest a further 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
*This is King Arthur's suggsted gluten-free flour blend if you prefer not to buy their pre-mixed blend:
Whisk together 6 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur stabilized brown rice flour; 2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) potato starch; and 1 cup (4 ounces) tapioca flour or tapioca starch. Store airtight at room temperature. Note: You can substitute white rice flour for the brown rice flour if you like; it'll make your baked goods grittier (unless you manage to find a finely ground version).