this month, this work

light on the desk

No matter what we do, there is good food and light. It’s how we work.

This past month, however, while we have been running the Kickstarter to bring the Gluten-Free Girl Flour Blends to market, the emphasis has been on the word work. We’ve had the computers on, the pens uncapped, the notebooks filled with scrawled ideas and snippets of blog posts and updates for Facebook. Good food has fueled us. We’ve been lifting our heads only to look up, notice the light, and then get back to work.

Kickstarter- how many people we need

The next time you see a friend post a Kickstarter link on Facebook? Do your friend a favor and give some money. Until you have run a Kickstarter, you have no idea how anxious your friend probably is, nearly every moment of the day.

There has been little sleep the past few weeks. Every few moments, we all looked up at this piece of paper taped to the window: “We need at least $2800.37 a day to make it. That’s an average of $62 per person. We need at least 1280 people to pledge to reach our goal.” (After a couple of weeks, we looked at the total and changed the amount we needed every day to $2307.67.) Every night I woke up between 3 and 4 am, wondering how we could encourage another 45 people to pledge an average of $63 the next day. Should we offer to make them pie? Should we send cookies? How many times should I put up an update on Twitter before I annoyed thousands of people by talking about it again?

We took this on voluntarily. I’m not really complaining. If you dream bigger than you ever have in your life, and have the chutzpah to believe you can raise nearly $80,000 in 4 weeks, all on the good will of people on the internet? Well, hard work is the only way. We can sleep in November.

claire in the studio_

Before I go much further, I have to tell you about this incredible woman, the third part of the we I’m writing about here. This is our right-hand woman, partner-in-crime on the Kickstarter, and now one of our favorite people in the world, Claire Moncrief. Without her work and encouragement, we would be falling down useless in this enormous work.

Claire arrived in our lives about 18 months ago, a complete surprise, the way everything that matters in my life has arrived. Last May, when Danny and Lu and I were in New York for book tour, I put up a photo of a moment of street life on 5th Avenue on Instagram. Someone left a comment saying “I want to meet you!” Okay, that happens quite a bit. But Claire followed up with an email. She was a newly diagnosed celiac, a big fan of ours, and a producer for CBS. Sure we can meet, I wrote to her. I walked to a coffee shop to meet her and stopped to take a photograph of a quote from Katherine Anne Porter scrawled on a chalkboard out front: “Miracles are instantaneous, they cannot be summoned, but come of themselves, usually at unlikely moments and to those who least expect them.” I walked inside and met Claire. Immediately, inexplicably, she felt like a sister to me. We were connected.

(About a month ago, I stumbled on that post again, more than a year later, with Claire inextricably a part of our lives now. When I sent it to Claire, she texted me immediately. “Look at the photo of the quote again.” I looked and looked but I didn’t see anything. “Look behind the signboard,” she wrote me. And then I saw it. In the back of the photo, walking toward me, is Claire, in her green shirt and black sweater. There she was, unlikely and unexpected. Miracles are instantaneous, indeed.)

Life took its twists and turns. Danny and I promoted our book, taught in Italy, came back to Vashon to start the next cookbook. And we looked for our second kiddo. Claire stepped away from her work as a television producer, even though she loved it, because she realized she could not heal fully from her celiac in that frenetic life. We talked and talked, wrote emails, encouraged each other, and tried to figure out how we could work together someday. Danny and I made plans for possible new websites and cookbooks but mostly we coalesced our ideas for bringing our flour blends to market. Claire decided to leave New York for awhile, to heal more fully. And since her family lives in the Pacific Northwest, she decided to work here for awhile. And, to collaborate with us.

Everything, everything in our lives has changed for the better because Claire is here. She’s a fierce woman and funny as hell. I can’t imagine my work days without her throaty surprised laugh. Claire has strong ideas and she’s unafraid to act on them. Danny and I have our own talents, but we’ve needed someone to help us aim for our goals with more organized clarity. And for years we have needed a colleague who believes in our work and what we want to give to the world deeply enough to call us on our crap and suggest better ways.

Claire has accompanied us on this path we’ve been taking, trying to build a sound business and a community on Kickstarter. Her years of experience covering hurricanes, political conventions, breaking news stories, and the top stories of the day make her swift of mind and talented at saying no when it’s necessary. She’s a powerful force of a woman and colleague. And we cannot find the words to say how grateful we are to have her in our lives.

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baking in your home.

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Thank you to everyone who has pledged to our Kickstarter campaign to bring the Gluten-Free Girl Flour Blends to market. In the moment I am writing this, more than 1400 of you have pledged to make this dream a reality. We are so grateful.

Wee have 54 hours to go, folks. And the more money we raise, the more quickly we can bring the grain-free blend to market. So many of you have expressed interest in the grain-free blend that we’d love your help spreading the word on this.

And so, in that spirit, I want to share a few stories with you.

For years, we’ve had the formula for our all-purpose flour blend on this site, and in our latest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. I’ve exhorted for years: it’s not that hard to combine the flours. You can do it today, if you want.

In fact, the other day, a woman asked me for the formula for our all-purpose flour blend on Twitter, in the midst of this Kickstarter campaign. I wrote it out for her immediately. I don’t believe in keeping this a secret. We want you to bake. She wrote back the next day to say the pumpkin muffins she made with our All-Purpose Flour Blend were the best gluten-free baked good she had ever eaten. She can’t wait to bake again.

So here are some stories sent in by readers who have made up our flour blends and used them successfully.

grain-free pancakes

“I’ve used your recipe for a gluten free all-purpose flour mix for a long time. When I first went gluten free, your site was the first that I went to. Your instructions were easy to follow and the results have been fantastic. I tend to use your whole grain mix more now, but when I want something a little more indulgent, I reach for the AP mix. I’ve never had a bad result.”

Megan M.

“Your all purpose mix is amazing. I use it all of the time to make a huge batch of pizzas… I throw half of them in the second freezer outside, just so I always have them on hand. Thank you thank you thank you for such a wonderful mix. Oh my gosh, it’s a great thing to have on hand for when company comes over —.just set up a make your own pizza buffet. I also have to say I’ve tried local gf Chicago pizza and a gf pizza in DC. None can touch how amazing yours are! Thank you!!”

Lauren S.

“I use the mix for any recipe that I’d use regular all-purpose flour for: cakes, cookies, waffles, pancakes, crepes, gravy, brownies, muffins, crisp, crumbles and cobblers, pizza dough, naan, and pie crusts…..I’ve baked for picky friends who can’t tell that my desserts are gluten-free and enjoy them just as much as my old ap-based treats. While it’s more obvious that the pizza crust is different it is so delicious no one cares.”

Kathleen C.

“Your all-purpose gluten free flour blend saved my life! I know, I know, that sounds dramatic, but before I tried making my own flour blend with your recipe, I felt deprived and would “cheat” as a result. And I don’t have to tell you how bad that is!

Always a baker, I had tried commercially available mixes but was always disappointed with something: texture, flavor, or a metallic taste. I tried making other blends at home, but never liked them much either. Plus I seemed to have a sensitivity to the gums other blends called for.

Since I started using your recipe about four years ago I haven’t cheated once! This was back when you called for seven or eight ingredients, but I now use–and love!–the newer, simplified version. At your suggestion, I started baking by weight and I can make any of my favorite family recipes–pancakes, quick breads, even cinnamon rolls! I use it to thicken soups, make roux, and bread fried foods. And the best part? No one knows that it’s gluten free until I tell them!

Thanks for developing this wonderful recipe and helping this gluten– free girl eat right!

Amy S

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So you see? You could make this flour blend today and not need to buy a box from us. Go right ahead.

However, after all these years of delighting in mixing up flours and deciding on the best formulations for blends, I understand why you might want to buy our flours already blended, in a box that can sit in your pantry, instead of having to blend them up yourself.
The other day I heard myself say to Lucy, when she wanted me to play with her: “Honey, I’d love to play with you. I just have to make up a flour blend first.” If I wished I could just grab a box of flour to bake with her immediately — and then color at the dining room table while the scones wafted their scent from the oven — then I imagine you must feel the same.

For Lucy — and soon for Desmond — baking gluten-free is no big deal. Just like I did with my mom when I was a kid, she helps me pull out the flour, the baking powder, the soda, salt, and sugar from the pantry before we begin baking. The recipe for chocolate chip cookies or apple pie is the same as the one I made with my mom. It’s just the flour that is different. That’s it. It’s just a different flour.

Yesterday, Lu called to me from the landing at the top of the stairs. “Mom! I’m having a bake sale. Would you like to come buy something?” It was imaginary, her bake sale, so I sat on a step below her and asked what she was selling.
“We have ginger-melon cream puffs, Chinese five-spice banana bread, maple-blueberry pudding, lime zest cornmeal cookies, and lemon yogurt cake with chocolate ganache,” she told me.

(I swear — she said all this.)

“Wow,” I said. “That’s a great selection. Are any of them gluten-free?”

She looked at me in surprise. “Mama, they’re all gluten-free, of course.”

For my girl — and soon my boy — there’s nothing weird or difficult about gluten-free baking. It’s just baking. And it’s magic. That’s the story in our home.

Here’s the main reason Danny and I have created these flour blends and want to make them available to you. We want these flours to be part of the story of your family’s life, the story of your kids baking cookies with you. I don’t want any kid to feel left out of the joy of standing at Mom or Dad’s knee and making magic with butter, milk, eggs, and flour.

We have only a couple of days left to get this Kickstarter funded as much as we can, to get both of these flour blends in your home.

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