Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Hanukkah Miracle: Gluten Free Latkes

Photobucketsombrero boy lights menorah on Hanukkah

In December 1960, I unofficially borrowed the Ad Man’s best scissors for the event that would change my world.  I had been invited to share my first tree trimming duties at a neighbor’s house when I was five years old.  Having no idea what tree trimming meant, I wanted to be properly prepared with a sharp instrument just in case I had to actually cut the tree.  Turns out trimming meant something else entirely, and from that moment on I was completely sold on the all aspects of decorating a holiday tree, eating Christmas cookies, and sharing candy canes with both the tree and my pocket.   Hanging stockings was not only brilliant, but something I could easily do at home.

In fact, I was so smitten with the whole process that I campaigned mercilessly in my Jewish household for at minimum the hanging of the stocking ritual.  After all, filling a stocking with treats wasn’t apparently religious, something I reconciled in my mind and tried to sell to my unwavering parents.  Stubborn was my middle name and on Christmas Eve I took my biggest knee sock and hung it on the end of my bed since we were missing the all important fireplace.  Sadly, the next morning it was a dusty heap from falling on the floor during the night and as cold and empty as my little heart.  I vowed to never mention it again, but I also vowed that when I was grown up I would have a fireplace and a stocking that would be filled with treats no matter what. Continue reading


A Very Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Photobucketgluten free drunken pumpkin pie

Holiday food memories are like a family photo album with scratch and sniff pages.   Ask anyone about their earliest Thanksgiving memories and chances are it is a combination of the Macy’s parade and the smell of yams with toasted marshmallows or pumpkin pie.  Then again, some of us might only remember Uncle Zeke’s shiny flask filled with something that added a certain charm to the boring punch bowl filled with preseason eggnog.

My brother reports that we always had a Thanksgiving dinner growing up; that the Ad Man recited the same typed poem/prayer of thanks each year.  But I cannot muster up one solitary memory from childhood about the holiday.  There aren’t even any family photos from Thanksgiving to use as a memory crutch.  I’m puzzled that the guy- the Ad Man- who photographed anything and everyone would skip a major holiday opportunity.  I suspect that we actually ate liver and onions for Thanksgiving and that is why I’ve blocked out those early years.

My Thanksgiving memories actually begin when I was a 17-year-old bride attending the famous holiday feast with combined families at the newly minted in-laws.  Just because it was Thanksgiving and the new lemon loving in-laws were hosting my father and stepmother, assorted siblings and guests meant there was something nothing to be nervous about. The gathering would take place in their beautiful colonial on a wooded lane where the neighbor parks his helicopter.   Perfectly Norman Rockwell – in theory.  Spending most of that memorable holiday with a “nervous” stomach ailment was mortifying.  The Ad Man even rustled up the family doctor by phone who diagnosed “stomach ache”.  It would still be years before the gluten intolerance diagnosis, but I was suffering all the way back then. Continue reading

You Know You Want One: Peanut Butter Buckeyes


fully dressed little peanut butter buckeyes


Candy was an obsession in our house when we were kids.  We were allowed to buy candy with our allowance, but there was rarely any sweet stuff purchased by our mom; Brach’s bridge mix was for, well, Bridge games.  On New Year’s Eve we had thin mints, or should I say we were allowed a thin mint or two because they belonged to the Ad Man.   Other times of the year there might be a box of thin mints and each of us got really clever with sliding them around to make the box look full even after we snitched more than our fair share.

Halloween was the most important holiday of the year and none of us failed to fill up pillowcases filled with goodies.  Apples, usually beyond bruised and sticky boxes of raisins were deposited into the kitchen, but no one ate those things.   I’m sure my mom made pie eventually.  We were only interested in the good stuff which would have been enormous (by today’s standards) chocolate bars and peanut butter cups.

At an early age I fell in love with the partnership of anything peanut butter and chocolate.  It was limited to a scoop of peanut butter from the jar and some random chocolate chips or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups when I could afford them with my allowance.

Syracuse is not all that far from Ohio yet I never knew buckeye was anything but a tree thing until I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen (buckeyes) .  I had to try these things.   And I certainly wondered why no one around me ever knew about these little candies. Continue reading

Chocolate Pudding Pie, Gluten Free

gluten free chocolate pudding pie

It begins with shiny red shoes and ends with pie.  The years I spent on the floor in the kitchen watching my mother bake and learning how to roll strudel dough or make poppy seed cookies is almost second to coveting her red shoes. Mesmerized, I was convinced that all red shiny shoes would smell like freshly baked cookies.   I can recall that moment years later as a young teen, long after my mom was gone, when I was shoe shopping and saw a pair of shiny red shoes and smelled them expecting the aroma of apple pie or freshly baked cookies to waft forth.  Sadly, reality bites.

While I can close my eyes and see my mom rolling out strudel dough, and carefully slicing Mandelbrot, or forming poppy seed cookies into even little balls, I can barely see the image of her rolling out pie crusts.   I know there was a  pastry cloth and a ratty old rolling pin with red handles, the paint long weathered from years of pie making.  Feeling the flour snowing down all around me on the flour while she rolled the crust, I still can see the unfinished edges hanging from the little metal pie tins, ready for filling.

And this is where the image fades like an old grainy film.  I don’t remember at all what went into those pies.  My brothers tell me that apple was the most popular, followed by cherry and then chocolate pudding.  I’ve been baking apple pies since I was old enough to have custody of a rolling pin, and I am sure in part I am following how my mother prepared the pie, but it is a memory that just won’t form into a clear picture.  But it doesn’t matter. Continue reading