It’s December 1st. At our house, with a very excited and articulate 6-year-old, that’s a big day. Rehearsals for Lucy’s first Nutcracker performances began last week. We put up our tree last night, to the befuddlement of poor Desmond. (His face looked like: “Can you people please explain to me why we now have a tree in the house?”) And our girl has been talking about Christmas for weeks. Months, really. She was singing Jingle Bells with great gusto in July. The other morning we had a dance party to Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
Two days ago, in the dark of 5:45 am, she informed me: “Mama, I’m too excited to sleep for the whole month. I might sleep in the day after Christmas.”
So there has been no end of anticipation here. However, today we opened the first day of the advent calendar — it was a wacky little drawing of Santa barreling down a snowy hill on a sled.
Officially, the season has begun.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or even Festivus (my brother and his wife do), this can be a joyful season. It can also be a confusing season. What the heck do you buy for everyone in your life in this season that implies a constant state of gift giving?
We didn’t go shopping on Black Friday. I refuse. I haven’t been to a mall in years. We don’t have a lot of money, so there’s no mindless spending here. Instead, we’re choosing our gifts for loved ones carefully, with great mindfulness. All through this month, we’d like to share some of the gifts we might be buying for friends and family, especially those who are gluten-free.
If you know someone who is gluten-free and loves food and great magazines, we highly recommend a subscription to GFF Magazine.
Erika Lenkert began GFF this year, with great passion and a successful Kickstarter campaign. (She was quite the inspiration for our campaign.) She’s driven, kind, and determined to bring great food and stories to those of us who have to be gluten-free. We’ll let her tell you the rest.
Why did you decide to start GFF?
A lot of people ask me why I would start a magazine, given how challenging it is to make a go of it now that most media has gone online. In that way, GFF is the definition of a passion project. I’d been writing about food, wine, and travel for national magazines and cookbooks for 20 years, and I’ve been gluten-free since 2001. I have a nine-year-old daughter who had to be gluten-free for several years. Simultaneously, I’ve always been obsessed with exceptional food and life experiences and have never sacrificed taste or satisfaction eating gluten-free. I saw a perceived disconnect in the marketplace between exciting food and gluten-free food. I wanted to bridge that gap and give the gluten-free community something to get excited about. And I tend to write about what I know.
But more than that, GFF was an opportunity to do what I love most: seek out incredible people, food, and experiences and celebrate and share them with others…and to get inspired to do a lot more cooking, and boy is that happening around my house these days!
A dear friend of mine who is a painter always says, “You have to create the art you wish existed in the world.” What are you trying to provide with GFF that didn’t exist in the world before that?
My aim has always been to create the best new food magazine out there, period. I didn’t want to focus on the medical aspects of gluten-free diet or the things you couldn’t eat. I longed for a gluten-free food magazine that featured the kind of inspirational cooking that Gourmet did in the mid-1990s, where recipes were exciting and gorgeous and helped you broaden your cooking repertoire and feel proud just by making them.
I also wanted a trusted source for gluten-free product recommendations, because there’s nothing worse than wasting your money and time on yet another new brand of sawdust-y GF bread or slimy GF crackers.
Beyond that, I wanted to create a good read loaded with interesting articles and tidbits and infused with playfulness, because food is fun!
Plus, I love the good, old-fashioned print magazine that you can hold in your hands, and that builds up its own stories and memories with each dog-eared page and chocolate smudge. We evolved that notion by making GFF a sort of collectable cookbook-magazine hybrid with super thick pages and high-quality printing. We wanted to make something people would keep and would stand the test of time, but we also created a digital version for people who don’t share my sentimentality.
Partnering with my friend and photographer Maren Caruso for GFF was critical to realizing the vision. She brings all the deliciousness to life through food photographs so beautiful, you want to eat them right off of the page.
Can you tell us about some pieces from issue #1 you want everyone to read?
I’m in love with pretty much everything in that first issue. The pasta recipes by ex Chez Panisse chef Niki Ford are masterpieces. Everyone should make at least one, though I repeatedly make the Corn Orzo and Heirloom Bean Soup and freeze it in single-servings. Aimee Lee Ball’s Gut Instincts article is an important read on the state of gluten-free affairs, and Lena Kwak’s lightning-fast rise to Cup4Cup flour CEO stardom alongside famed chef Thomas Keller is fascinating. Then there’s the off-the-hook holiday menu by James Beard Award-winning chef Craig Stoll of San Francisco’s Delfina restaurants. I’m obsessed with the Brussels sprouts. Our first “Skill It” feature (a reoccurring section that teaches GF cooking fundamentals) is truly a Perfect Piecrust by allergen-free baking expert and regular contributor Jeffrey Larsen. And then there’s your wonderful piece, Shauna. I really could just list the table of contents!
What are you planning for issue #2?
We are finishing the next issue right now. It’s coming out in January and I’m excited to say I think it’s even better than the first. You’ll discover how to make insanely good vegetable dishes using everyday winter produce, learn how to whip up Perfect GF Scones, read about the Jestons-like high-tech advances being made in the food industry, and get the moistest, most chocolaty gluten-free chocolate cake recipe ever. Our food muse Niki Ford is back with an exotic, to-die-for brunch and a dinner that’ll romance the pants off of anyone, and we’ve got spectacular gluten-free, dairy-free baking recipes from a top New York bakery. We also tell you where to find the best GF food in Hawaii. (Can you tell I’m excited?) Oh! And two-Michelin-star chef Daniel Patterson’s way to cook a whole chicken, which is also included, changed my life. Seriously.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re two working moms spending every free moment on GFF so my first goal is grow our visibility and readership so we can afford to get more help! Beyond that, we are building out our website (gffmag.com) so there will be immediate gratification in the way of recipes, articles, and easy access to our favorite food and products. And of course there’s the spring issue, which we’ll start working on right after the holidays. Until then, my plan is to do a lot of GF cooking, eating, celebrating, and working to get our inaugural issue under as many Christmas trees and menorahs as possible. With that in mind, please let your readers know they can get 40% off the print version of the inaugural issue until December 15 if they use coupon code holiday40 at checkout and take 35% off print subscriptions with coupon code gff35. They make great GF gifts and come in a fancy box, too.
To buy a single issue: http://gffmag.com/shop/inaugural-issue-print/
To buy a subscription: http://gffmag.com/shop/annual-print-subscription/
Erika has kindly agreed to do a giveaway: a copy of issue #1 to 3 lucky readers. Leave a comment here about why you are interested and we’ll do a random drawing at the end of the week!