I just got my copy of this hand-made, spiral-bound cookbook which appears to be individually printed -- in color! -- using computer clip-art, so I have not had a chance to try the recipes. It seems to be quite comprehensive, though, including chapters on Cakes, Cookies, Fruits, Ice Creams, Pies, Puddings, Candy, and Quick Fixes. I am not sure about some of the information included in her introduction to the disease and the diet, but that's really not what I bought the cookbook for in the first place! More information on this book can be found at the Gluten-Free Dessert Cookbook website. Ordering information is also included there, though I don't think that page lists the price of the book, which is $19.95 plus $2.00 shipping.
Bette Hagman's books are basic to any gluten-free kitchen bookshelf. Her first book, The Gluten-Free Gourmet; Living Well Without Wheat, includes many indispensable recipes. Among my favorite are the breakfast ones, like "Buttermilk Pancakes," "Rice-Ricotta Pancakes," and "Buttermilk Waffles." This books also contains the amazing recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies (eggs are the secret). In More From the Gluten-Free Gourmet, Bette moves up to a bread machine, and so includes many wise tips on choosing and using these time-saving beasties. My favorite recipe from this book, though, is for Arab Pocket Bread, which the wheat eaters in my house testify tastes better than store-bought wheat pitas, and is a favorite with my celiac son. The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy focuses on time-saving mixes and lightening up some of the standard recipes. So far I've only managed to try the bean flour version of mock graham crackers from this one; the recipe was tasty and easy to make. All three books include basic information about celiac disease and the celiac diet. Highly recommended as a starting place.
I just got my own copy of a newly released book called Feeding Your Allergic Child, by Elisa Meyer (First Printing: March 1997, St. Martin's Griffin; list price: $11.95US/$16.50Can). On the cover it says: "Happy Food for Healthy Kids. 75 proven recipes free of wheat, dairy, corn and eggs for the millions of miserable children (and their parents) suffering from food allergies."
Written in a light and entertaining style, with a gentle introduction to food allergies, and elimination diets, and including a parental pep talk about facing the realities of cooking from whole ingredients, it also takes you through some of the basic ingredients you'll need ("Our Motto: 'We shop for ingredients not supper. We make supper.'") plus there's a rundown of helpful kitchen supplies and equipment.
Out of the 75 recipes, I counted only 8 that would not be suitable, straight up, for the celiac diet. Most of these had oats or oat flour in them (which you could probably convert using safe cereal flakes or flours) or her granola which uses oats (you could use Bette Hagman's granola recipe, or your own).
Most of the food is kid-oriented and includes such standards as Fruit Shakes, "Tuna Hold de Mayo," Meatloaf, Stuffed Cabbage, Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage, Vegetarian Chili, Roast Chicken, Stuffing, and "Broccoli Trees." Some of the more unusual-sounding fun food includes, "Small Coke" (no corn syrup), Hot Toddy, Fruit Soup, "Fish They'll Eat," Vegetable Latkes, Vegetable Kugel, Kishkes (guts?), Honey Carrots, Barbecued Vegetables, Sweet Potato Chips (made from Sweet Potatoes, of course), Ices (popsicle substitutes), Almond Lace Cookies, "Ballies," Coconut-Almond Muffins, Fruit Bars, Coconut-Almond Cake, Almond Cereal, and even Ketchup!
More standard recipes: three kinds of soup stock, various salad dressings, meat dishes, potato salad, rice salad, almond butter, and some fruit purees used instead of eggs in various recipes.
The focus of all these recipes seems to be on *simple* and *quick-to-prepare* foods that are healthy and pleasing to a kid's palette.
I'm looking forward to trying these out; they look pretty fool-proof.
Jax Peters Lowell has written, Against the Grain subtitled "the slightly eccentric guide to living without gluten or wheat" a book that I would call a survival guide. While it contains a few recipes -- one chapter includes recipes from 12 renowned chefs, another has kid-pleasers -- this is not so much a cookbook as a book-length pep talk and quick reference full of resources like mail order firms, support groups, and including two translation cards (for the wheat-free and the gluten-free consumer) in 14 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portugese, Polish, Swedish, Danish, Hebrew, Russian, Greek, Japanese and Chinese). These can be used not only for travel in foreign lands, but for excursions to ethnic restaurants.
Written with a light touch and a sense of humor, Jax's book will help newcomers to The Diet put things in perspective, and it offers strategies you can use in your own kitchen, while dining out, at work, with friends, and during travel.
I highly recommend the book with only a few small reservations:
(1) Sometimes her comments about restricted foods get muddy, so the uneducated might come away confused about, for example, whether buckwheat is on the taboo or safe lists (well, it's a difficult topic).
(2) I felt a little upset with Jax's chapter "Your Cheating Heart..." which starts out: "You will want to cheat. And you will." In an earlier chapter she briefly mentioned using affirmations and so it surprises me that she'd apply their opposite in her book by planting such a negative suggestion which could worm its way into my as-yet-unbreached defenses.
However, how can I quibble when she could write such a clear, delicate and insightful Preface, including this:
"How could I explain when friends were battling serious things such as breast cancer and brain injury and hearts that ticked like time bombs, while I had gotten off with a mere dietary restriction? I secretly grieved for all the foods I could never taste again . . ."
Her chapter on surviving in the world of business had me laughing out loud. How refreshing to hear someone with more than a decade of practice coping with our particular affliction, share her experiences and insights and warm humor at length with us all. Against the Grain (published by Henry Holt in the U.S.; Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Canada) is a wonderful book, as comforting as a newly discovered recipe that replaces the food you miss most, and like comfort food, the book would be best shared with those you love, even if -- maybe especially if -- they don't have to live with the celiac diet.
This is the single best source of recipes sold in the United States, and it is a classic for all cooks. The wonderful thing about Joy is that it gives lots of solid, basic information, in a format that quickly becomes comfortable and familiar. There are whole sections explaining the whys and whatfors of cooking techniques and ingredients.
And the recipes! There are so many recipes! In how many other recipe books will you find recipes for marshmallows? If you can only buy one general cookbook, buy this one. While it is not designed for celiacs, the information contained herein is so comprehensive that there is no better place for someone forced into their kitchen to start looking. With the recipes here you can often find familiar favorites, and begin to experiment and convert them to our flours.
La Leche League offers several wonderful cookbooks that should be basic to every celiac kitchen, for no other reason than that these focus on using whole ingredients, instead of short-cutting with a can of Campbell's (wheat-laden) soup and the like. Visit La Leche League International's Home Page for ordering information.
Please let us know which books you have found to be indispensable to your bookshelves! You can email lists of your favorites and even reviews (which will be considered for publication here) to the email address below.
To special order books through our book store, head for the wheat-free zone at Astral Castle, where you'll find the celiac books listed.
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