Category Archives: Got Time? Worth the Mess!

Takes time, but worth the effort

Oat Tales: GF Oat Cookies with Coconut, Pecans and Raisins

Oatmeal is a lot like Uncle Fergus – you either love him or run for your life when he shows up at the door.

I grew up hating all things oatmeal. When I was forced to eat the stuff, it was like chewing the inside of the sofa stuffing (don’t ask how I know that). Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the same Quaker Oats container sitting on the pantry shelf had celebrated more birthdays than I had.

I met my first commercially made oatmeal cookie when I bought school-lunch the day the new cafeteria opened.   I loved cookies, but this thing was dreadful. Soft, squishy and stale, it was the color of tired beige with tiny dark specks.  Oats and I were finished.

That is, until I grew up and found out that oats were actually tasty. My mother-in-law, the original granola queen, used oats as much as she used lemons or mayonnaise (which in her house is a food group). She taught me the rules of food-cooperatives and how to chase the good stuff – think organic mills before organic was a type of certified product. Continue reading


Gluten Free Ultra Minty Thins

Once upon a time, there was not one adorable little Girl Scout in a five-mile radius who had not sold us Thin Mint cookies.  Apparently we became such a familiar sight that when the munchkins saw us walking toward the store entrance where they sold the crack cookies, they started piling up the Thin Mints in anticipation.

Our entire freezer was stuffed with Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.  Undoubtedly a 12 step program was probably in order.  But that was then. Continue reading

Gluten Free Ratio Rally – GF Potato Pancakes

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It’s been a long time coming actually.  Moving from the system of measuring everything by cups to weights has made a huge difference in the outcome of gluten free baking.  Heck, it makes a difference in any kind of baking.  And now we get to start thinking about food making in terms of ratios with thanks to Michael Ruhlman.

Ratios are like the blueprint of cooking.  Think of it as the bones of recipes.  If you become comfortable with ratios – any food preparation becomes your own customization.  No recipe needed.

Take pancakes, for example.  The typical ratio is 4:4:2:1.   That would be 4 parts flour to 4 parts liquid to 2 parts egg to one part fat.  As long as you know that particular ratio = pancakes you can make the quantity as big or small as you want.  You can customize it any way you like.

We enjoy our weekend pancakes, but we love potato pancakes even more.  We usually only eat them around Hanukkah and call them latkes.  But they’re good any time of year and sometimes on a cold weekend morning, a potato pancake seems perfect. Continue reading

Good News! It's a Very Lemon Tart, Gluten Free

Captain Awesome grew up in a family we affectionately refer to as the  Lemon Loving clan.  He and his parents love lemon tart more than chocolate.  Yes, indeed, gasp.  But true.  So recently, after we carted some pretty Meyer lemons home from the market, I thought I would make him a very lemon tart.

Three many tarts later I finally have it.  The first one was a candidate for  baking wreck of the week.  A little too much cornstarch and the lemon filling was smooshy bitter.  The second one was better, but the crust was rather like chewing crust-jerky.  And the filling was still bitter and slightly chewy.  Not what you want in a lemon tart.  Too much pith and brimstone.

The third time was the charm.  This one is so perfect I want to bronze it.  Half the tart is still in the refrigerator but I know it won’t last the day because Captain Awesome already had a piece for breakfast. Continue reading

The Same Only Different – Mom's Marble Chiffon Cake, Gluten Free

Oh chiffon.  How I love you.  Some of you may have read my baking-wreck post, Fallen Angel, where I mentioned my beautiful disaster baking an angel cake.   And where I learned the oh-so-not-so subtle difference between angel and chiffon cakes.  Apparently I arrived tardy to home-ec class on angel v. chiffon day.

For almost, um, let’s say many years,  I’ve wondered about those cakes my mother used to make that hung upside down to cool.  They certainly weren’t as memorable as some of her other recipes and that’s undoubtedly because the chiffon cakes were for company consumption and not for greedy (hungry) children.  The kids saw little of company cake.

But recently, a neighbor from the old childhood homestead mentioned my mother’s chiffon cake to me after we were reacquainted on Facebook.  She was a young mom back then and apparently my mother would make her marble chiffon cakes to help  bring about the birth of her babies when her due-date came and went.  I’d almost forgotten those chiffon cakes until then.  Sadly, she didn’t have the recipe. Continue reading

Tiramisu – Eat Dessert First!

Eat dessert first!  Gluten Free Tiramisu

A fellow baker and I often chat about what’s for dessert tonight instead of what’s for dinner.   Our motto?  Eat dessert first.

Tiramisu comes up often.  She whips it together in no time flat.   The taste is always the same, sublime.   Though I have watched her do it hundred times, I cannot tell you why it is so.

Mine, though I thought I was duplicating hers, always came out a little bit off, each time slightly different.   It tasted fine, just looked peculiar.  I started serving it in little glass cups instead of plates because it looked better that way, more like the unconstructed look was on purprose.

But years passed and the celiac among us made the construction of tiramisu even more challenging by finding just the right cookie for the role of holder of all things gooey and chocolate.   Sounds easier than it is. Continue reading

The Alternative to Fruitcake: Little Drunken Fruit Cookies


One nightmare holiday so long ago it makes my brain hurt thinking about it – when rotary dial phones were still alive and pay phones were the equal of calling someone on the fly, we thought making homemade fruit cakes would be a great idea for holiday gifts.  Right after Thanksgiving we bought all the ingredients.  That we had to have an adult buy the booze for us since we were not yet 21 years old didn’t even make us flinch.  And yes, these were the ancient days when 18 was still a child according to the law.   I think this might be the only time the in-laws went out and bought liquor for us on purpose.

We chopped and soaked and baked loaf after loaf of fruitcake and drowned them in cheap brandy and rum, wrapping them in towels and sealing them in plastic bags.  Every few days from Thanksgiving to right before Christmas we would pour more Brandy and Rum over them wrapping them back up in their liquor soaked towels to cure some more.  I bet our place stank like a pub by then, but we were immune and no doubt a bit snockered on the fumes.

Finally, the holiday arrived and we gifted everyone we knew with a loaf of homemade fruitcake loaf.   Oddly, some of those people no longer send us holiday cards – we’ve lost touch.  I never braved constructing a fruitcake again.  That is, until now.   Thumbing through some Ina Garten TiVo episodes of Barefoot Contessa, I almost deleted this episode, but thankfully stayed tuned.  I’m glad I did because everyone at her fabulous party seemed to be devouring these little goodies.  Perhaps soused little fruit cookies were the ticket so I studied the recipe and modified it to be gluten free and slightly more drunken. Continue reading