John Milton had a great second act. He wrote "Paradise Lost" after he went blind. He also wrote a poem that at once lamented the loss of his sight, and celebrated the wideness of the inner world he determined and discovered in the aftermath of blindness.
When first informed that gluten, soy and casein needed to be expunged from my younger son's diet, my first reaction was to curl up in a tight ball and ponder how on earth to feed my child. At that time, his pickiness and fussiness regarding food were despair inducing and I was afraid that I could not possibly find foods outside his otherwise limited repertoire. But in the three months since, I've found substitutes for him that have replaced his stalwart favorites; I've found parents whose children are similarly afflicted who have generously shared their knowledge, their wisdom and their recipes; and I've found that deprived of the foods that were harming him, Ethan has started to eat and experiment with foods and textures I never thought he'd consider.
The victories are small but significant: finding quinoa pasta to replace gluten-based pasta; finding a milk substitute that he liked which didn't amount to poison in his system; finding gluten, soy and casein free chocolate chip cookies for him; and from there, the natural slide back towards my desire to make things for him: learning how to make my own Ethan-friendly chocolate chip cookies; learning how to make pasta from scratch using quinoa flour; discovering substitute flour blends.
Finding ways, in short, to widen the narrowness of my expectations by chipping away pre-conceived ideas about what food really means.
I did not think he'd ever get to eat cheddar crackers again. But other enterprising mommies had already found a way to make vegan or gluten free goldfish, or both, so it was just a matter of trying the recipes and modifying over and over until I found something that Ethan liked. So here you are. Gluten, soy and casein goldfish that are as crunchalicious as the originals; and with enough resemblance to cheddar to make the kid happy.
Within the confines of the rules in which we now cook and bake, I've found a far wider world than the one I imagined it would be.
5 oz of Daiya cheddar shreds
3 T Earth Balance buttery spread, soy-free version
1 T ghee
1/4 cup + 1 T gluten free flour blend (I use King Arthur's GF blend)
1/2 cup + 1 T cornstarch
1/2 t salt
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t xanthan gum
1 T rice milk
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the milk and pulse briefly until it forms into a crumbly meal. Add the milk. It will start to form together in a ball.
3. On a lightly floured (use cornstarch) surface, pat the dough together. It will be greasy and won't "stick" together the way a normal dough would; this is okay. Spoon some dough on to the surface and pat the dough to 1/8 or 1/2 inch thickness.
4. Use a mini-fish cookie cutter (you can buy here: http://bit.ly/pwxMpr), to cut out goldfish and using an small offset spatula, GENTLY place the fish on a Silpat mat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bear in mind, these fish are small and fragile, so be gentle when cutting and moving to the cookie sheet.
5. Using a round toothpick, pierce holes for eyes, then gently pierce a line for the smile.
6. Bake for 10 minutes (I began checking at 8 minutes to make sure they weren't browning/burning).
7. Remove cookie sheet from oven and let the goldfish cool. They should be crisp and barely browned round the edges.