What does a woman, who absolutely loves pasta, do when she is told that she could possibly suffer from Celiac Disease. And what would I use to soak up that wonderful garlic butter after eating escargots? Well I did what I imagine anyone in my position would do (after I dried the tears from my cheeks) - I wrote a cookbook.
When I announced to my friends that this was what I was planning to do, I was met with much laughter. You see, I hated to cook. I only cooked to stay alive even though I love eating. Unconsciously (or so I said) I chose gentlemen friends who could cook. But circumstances changed and I was always up for an adventure - and adventure it was.
In 1996 when I first starting to get symptoms that were connected to Celiac Disease, there was not as much information available as there is now, but fortunately I had a doctor that went beyond the usual diagnoses. He suggested the possibility and I decided that I would attempt to go gluten-free. I did not want a biopsy and I did not know about the blood test that could be done, so I did the elimination method.
I live in a small city and at that time it was really difficult to find gluten-free products. I had to travel to a large city an hour and a half away and stock up on whatever I could find. It soon became apparent that this was not the route to go and I spent almost the next year experimenting. Fortunately my husband was a wonderful cook and he helped me. However baking was out of his comfort zone so I got out all my mother’s and mother-in-law’s cookbooks, took as many recipes I could find that I thought would be good to bake and translated them into what was becoming known as “Lorna Approved”.
Again, because of difficulty getting some of the ingredients you find in a lot of gluten free cookbooks, I went with two basic substitute flours; rice and soy flour. I now experiment with almond and coconut flour but always seem to go back to the first two. However - and it is a big however, it was the proportions that baffled me. Remember I am not a cook at heart. My mother used to be a fabulous baker but she never could get me interested.
The first muffins I made were a disaster. I used far too much soy flour and a hockey team could have used them for practice purposes. Too much rice and it was more of a crumble than a muffin. But I finally got it right. To make sure I was not fooling myself I enticed several friends who were excellent bakers to test everything for me before it was put into the cookbook.
I decided that not liking to cook was not to my advantage and because my business partner and I actually give workshops on Managing Personal Change, I made myself go through the process and learn to like cooking. Was it successful? Well my mother is probably laughing her head off up ‘there’ as I bake gluten-free muffins and cakes for a local café, two health food stores, and several friends.
One of my favourite muffin recipes follows. I like it and it is popular at the café as it is not too sweet.
3/4 cup rice flour 2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup soy flour 1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil 1 cup frozen cranberries
½ tsp salt ½ cup lemon juice
½ cup sugar 2 eggs
Sift flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, vanilla and juice. Beat together. Add cranberries and fold in gently. Pour into greased muffin tins (I prefer using muffin liners) and bake in preheated 350F (180C) oven for 25-30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
About Lorna Foreman:
Writer and artist, Lorna Foreman, has been a journalist for over ten years, writing on the arts. As well, she is a regular contributor to Fifty-Five Plus magazine, having written her column, The Rest is Best since 1998. Lorna wrote, produced and hosted 30 half hour programs entitled Welcome to My Studio for the local community television channel. She is also a contributor to the online newspaper, Cornwall Free News and is currently working on two children’s books.
Wheat Watchers is primarily for Celiacs and Gluten Intolerant people and it is her first cookbook. She has also written When Life Becomes Real, a compilation of 11 years of her columns. Lorna lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her two cats who are not gluten intolerant but like watching her cook just in case she has something for them. She works with a business partner giving workshops that deal with making changes in your life, something people resist and need to understand how to make into an adventure.
About Wheat Watchers:
On the practical side, “Wheat Watchers” came about when I was told I was possibly a Celiac – or at best – gluten intolerant. That was in 1996 and it was a shock.
I did wonder if I would ever enjoy eating again. Besides the problem with wheat, I am mildly lactose intolerant which presented a double whammy. Little did I know what an adventure I was undertaking – and adventure it was – and still is.
In 1996 trying to stay away from gluten, especially in a small city, was a real challenge. But I am always open to new directions and I set off to assemble a new library of cookbooks. I was dismayed at the dearth of cookbooks dealing with gluten free diets so the obvious thing was to write my own. That is how this cookbook was born.
I spent most of a year translating ordinary recipes into “Lorna Approved” ones. I also invented some of my own. They are a result of much trial and error since it is not always possible to just exchange gluten free flour for wheat flour. Textures had to be taken into consideration as well as what keeps batters together.
My late husband was the cook in our family as I professed to ‘hate cooking’.
He helped considerably with some of the dishes, but the baking was strictly my responsibility. After all it is the desserts that give the Gluten Intolerant and Celiacs the most grief.
After vowing to my mother how I would never bake, she must be dancing and laughing “up there” when she sees me having such a good time in the kitchen. I had a lot of fun over that year and still challenge myself to discover or translate a new recipe.