Monday, March 16, 2009

Gluten-free surprises

Too fast, my daughter, Amanda, has gone back to school.

She left Friday with bags full of gluten-free food, some homemade, some pre-packaged. Had we known a little earlier about the new gluten-free Chex cereals showing up in supermarkets, I'm sure she would have taken some of those too!

But one nice thing about a big company like General Mills making gluten-free products is that they are generally widely available and can be bought in a store near her university as easily as at home.

I am checking with General Mills even as I write this to get details on how soon gluten-free Corn Chex, Honey Nut Chex, and Cinnamon Chex will be on store shelves across the country. I'll post that information on the newsflash of our website,, as soon as I get it.

Meanwhile, I had a few other gluten-free surprises while Amanda was at home.

First, I forgot how much more quickly gluten-free breadcrumbs brown when you use them to make breaded chicken.

Consequently, when I made dinner one night last week, I had to scrape the burned crumbs off one side of Amanda's chicken breast.

Second, I realized how easy it is to forget about using a gluten-free ingredient in a recipe when you don't do it every day.

I was making meatloaf with plans to use gluten-free breadcrumbs when I dumped in regular ones without thinking. At first I thought I could scoop all the crumbs out, but then I realized I had to start over and make Amanda a completely separate mini meatloaf.

These two mistakes made me think about people who are new to the gluten-free diet, as well as chefs in restaurant kitchens trying to prepare a gluten-free meal for a customer.

When all the steps to gluten-free are second nature to you, as they had become to me in all the years I've cooked for Amanda, things go pretty smoothly. It's easy to forget just how much concentration and attention it took in the early days when everything was new.

So I have a renewed respect for anyone out there just learning to cook gluten free. Keep at it and soon it will be much easier for you.

And I have new appreciation for restaurant chefs who take all the steps to use clean utensils, pots, cooking surfaces and ingredients to make a truly gluten-free meal. In a busy kitchen, they have to go out of their way to pay attention to a lot of details and I'm thankful to the ones who get it right.

As for me, Amanda will soon be home for the summer and I'm sure I'll quickly return to top gluten-free cooking form.


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