When I first began to understand the havoc that gluten was wrecking on my body I read.  I read everything I could find on the subject.  I read books on celiac, gluten free cookbooks, and gluten free blogs.  I did not merely read them.  I devoured them.  I read them sitting on my couch, at the dinner table, while soaking in a hot bath, and curled into my soft cotton sheets.

I read the books cover to cover, trying to retain every tip and trick they held.  Don’t bake with a preheated oven.  Use parchment paper or silpat.  Don’t over mix.  Don’t over touch.  My list of dont’s was long but I was determined.  I read and I read and I read.

Still, I refused to bake.  Dinner I could muster.  Lunch was easy to solve, last nights leftovers worked just fine.  Breakfast, that wasn’t too hard.  I ate a lot of eggs in those first days until I discovered Rice Chex cereal was gluten free and came in cinnamon flavor.  I took to heart the advice, don’t try to replace all the old gluten laden loves, just learn to love the things God gave us that are naturally gluten free.  This I could do.  Bake with a whole new mindset?  That was a different story.

Yet, a mysterious thing began to happen.  Each week at the store I would find some new bag of flour had made it’s way into my cart.  It started with this mix.  It was good, but I have never been one to bake from a mix.  Then it was the brown rice flour, it seemed to me I might need that one if only for dinners.  The sorghum flour too, after all I had seen that used for fried chicken so it must be necessary even if I wasn’t going to bake.  It continued into a true quest, hunting down the amaranth and the still on-going hunt for the teff flour.  I read the origins of these ancient grains and I learned their nutritional benefit.  Slowly I filled my kitchen cupboard with jar after jar of powdered substances I did not yet understand.  They were familiar only in the words of those authors.

Eventually, it had to happen.  I had to bake.

The dark eyed boy came over for a visit and as small boys are inclined to, he holds a special passion for cookies.  Particularly chocolate chip cookies. I sighed and reached into the cabinet.  I had a mix on hand, purchased in those early fear filled days.  Those days when I was convinced baked goods were gone forever.  I kept it there in the cupboard to remind me that though life had changed, it was not gone merely different than it had been. I hesitated, but with a steely resolve I reached past that mix and picked up a jar.  I began to hand jar after jar to the boy, the assistant just waiting to measure and pour.  My countertop was filled with starches and flours, sugars and gums.  Ingredients I had yet to touch.  I remembered the proper way to measure and promised me that by this fall I’d own a kitchen scale so I could do this baking properly.  For now, I helped the wee hands scoop and measure, pour and stir.  With a smile  I slid the tray in the oven and wondered what I had done.

What had I done?  I baked cookies.  Good cookies.  Light, crisp, slightly salty and still just vaguely doughy cookies.  Cookies oozing with chocolate goodness.  I ate them warm from the oven in crumbled bits (which will happen if you ignore the requirement to let them sit for twenty minutes before you move them, but seriously who waits twenty minutes for the first cookies to cool?).  I ate them room temperature.  I stashed them in the freezer in a vain attempt to protect my waist line, but discovered that I love them frozen even more than I do fresh from the oven.

The boy?  He said “These are good” and that was it.  I asked him if he thought they were different and he shrugged and said “They are cookies” and I smiled in response.

I baked.

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