Have you noticed it lately? Whenever we’re walking, we spot the phrase, on packages and advertisements and even in the windows of bakeries: gluten-free.
How did we become the cool kids?
Gluten-free is everywhere. Well, not everywhere. Not in hospital cafeterias, airports, school lunchrooms, or places where we need something to eat and nothing exists for us. But still, it’s a start. When I was diagnosed with celiac, four years ago, I had to drive around to several different stores to find what I needed to make a cookie recipe. These days, I have my pick of places I want to be.
Or, when I’m in West Seattle, I just go into the Great Harvest Bread Company.
I know. With a name like that, it has to be gluten, right? Except, this particular location of the bread company has gluten-free pizza crusts, breads, scones, hamburger buns, and cupcakes. And they’re good.
After I took photographs, in astonishment, I asked the young woman behind the counter how this came to be. The owner and her daughter cannot eat gluten. So they have set out to conquer gluten-free baking, for the sake of everyone else.
Great Harvest Bread Co.
4709 California Ave. S.W.
Seattle, WA 98116
The first year after I was diagnosed, I bemoaned the fact I could no longer eat oats. After years of eating steel-cut oats every day, I had to cut myself off. Strangely, I missed my morning bowl of oatmeal more than baguettes. I resigned myself to never eating them.
Again, how much things have changed.
Now, not only does Bob’s Red Mill make gluten-free oats, but commercial baked goods made with oat flour and oat flakes are starting to show up on shelves around here. There are so many varieties of gluten-free oats available that we have our choice.
Lately, we’ve been enjoying Gluten-Free Oats around here. The oats taste great. The story is sweeter.
The son of the family who grows and manufactures these oats was diagnosed with celiac at the age of two. His parents didn’t let him wheat, of course, but he ate the oats they grew in another field. Sometimes he grew sick. No one could figure out why. Later, when he was doing his Future Farmers of America project on no-bake cookies, he realized that oats are contaminated by growing in fields next to fields of wheat. (Those plants like to mix and mingle, apparently.) He searched for a source of oats he could eat. After finding one, he rolled the oats and packaged them himself, so that other local celiacs could eat oats. (Future farmer indeed!) This small endeavor grew into a family business, pushed forward further when his father was diagnosed with celiac too.
I met both father and son this weekend, at the GIG conference in Seattle, and they were utterly charming. And healthy.
Their oats are pretty darned tasty, too.
578 Lane 9 Powell, WY 82435
(307) 754-2058 Fax (516) 723-0924
The FedEx man and UPS woman know the way to our house now. Nearly every day we find a package of gluten-free foods on our porch when we return home.
We’re happy that so many small businesses are trying to make it by creating gluten-free baked goods. However, I can’t tell you about all of them. Some of them are wretched dry as dust, overly sweet, a wreck in a plastic package. So when good ones land in our laps, I’m happy to share.
The baked goods at Blackbird Bakery are lovely. So is the website. Karen Morgan, who began the bakery, is an artist with a husband who was trained in classic French cuisine. For years, before turning to commercial baking, Karen kept the website The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking. Now, her bakery in Austin is turning out beautiful baked goods.
We liked everything we tasted, including the scones and biscotti. But I particularly liked these millet power bars, in part because no other bakery seems to be making them. (Everyone sends us brownies.) A little like a rice krispie bar, without all that sweetness, and millet mixed in.
I’d like to keep some of these in the car for those in-between times, when there’s nothing gluten-free to be found in public places.
Like I said, everyone sends us brownies. (Here’s a secret: it’s really not that hard to make good gluten-free brownies.) They’re all quite good, but they start to taste the same. When I open the latest box, I long for something new.
How about “flour” tortillas?
We love corn tortillas around here, particularly the ones we make by hand. And white wheat flour tortillas are a gringo invention anyway, right? But sense memory says that sometimes a quesadilla should be made with flour tortillas. These white tortillas are newly made by French Meadow Bakery in Minnesota. This organic bakery makes all kinds of glutenous goods, but their gluten-free production is certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. Their chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and macaroons are quite good.
But these tortillas are something else.
Danny ate nearly all of them himself, making quesadillas, one after the other.
French Meadow Bakery
1000 Apollo Road
Eagan, MN 55121
p.s. Since I posted this, many of you have noted that the gf tortillas don’t seem to be on the website. I can’t find them either. Shoot! They sent them to me, and I tasted them at the GIG conference. Here’s hoping someone from French Meadow reads this and rectifies that problem immediately!
Skagit River Ranch ground beef burgers (a little trick: mix in one egg to firm up the burger), cheddar cheese, grilled Walla Walla sweet onion and caper relish. And Kinnikinnick Foods Gluten-Free hamburger buns.
One of our favorite places in Seattle is a tiny storefront next to a dry cleaners, on the top of Queen Anne hill.
Eat Local sources its ingredients from some of our favorite local farmers, ranchers, and producers. “Eat Local is an artisan food store offering prepared meals made with seasonal, organic ingredients bought directly from local farms.” It sounds good, right?
Their meals taste even better than the ethos sounds. Eat Local uses traditional home cooking methods, rather than mass production, to create frozen meals anyone can enjoy. Have you ever had a pork and apple tagine in a tv dinner? Made with ingredients you recognize and nothing else?
I also love the fact that the meals are packaged with the environment in mind. Much of the food comes in glass dishes that you bring back to the store. It’s like a neighbor made you dinner, and then you return the favor. It’s a bonus that all the labels and illustrations for the store are created by Nikki McClure, one of my favorite artists, as well.
Not all the food at Eat Local is gluten-free, but much of it is. Greg Conner, the driving force behind Eat Local, has a good friend with celiac, and thus an interest in feeding people safely. (Businesses built on personal connections are always my favorite.) We’ve eaten their food quite a number of times now, always with great enjoyment, and safely for me.
The lavender creme caramel is particularly stunning.
2400 Queen Anne Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
You can find each of these recommendations, and many more, over at Gluten-Free Girl Recommends.