baking, life transitions, wheat-free

Life, transitions and chocolate chips

I have had a momma chair for years. The momma chair in our family is that comfy chair with room for two people (or three if the occasion calls for it) to put their feet up, snuggle in, watch an episode or two of a favourite show, and forget about the world. These are comforting traditions that warm the soul. In the early years, the momma chair was a tan fabric lounger, put in the family room for kids to sit on and do homework while I made dinner in the adjoining kitchen. After the night’s activities were done and there was a bit of time for real relaxation before the next hectic day, one of my growing boys would yell out that a favourite show was on, and did I want to come and watch it with him? I’d say, “where do you want to sit?” The answer would invariably be “with you in the momma chair.”

Well over the years, boys grow up, leave home, and chairs need to be retired. The current momma chair is a grey two piece lounger with separate ottoman, with room enough for me and my hubby, or me and the pups. This momma chair was broken in by our beloved bulldog Helena, whose favourite activity on a Friday night would be to shuffle into the family room, wait for a crust of pizza (or a whole piece as she aged), and then jump up on the momma chair for a night of cuddling and movie watching. Helena has since passed, but this momma chair has become a favourite spot for our two young labs, one of whom sits on the ottoman, and the other curls up along my side. This momma chair is becoming a bit worn too, and it will be soon gifted to my son and his family, likely to take up a similar position of comfort in front of a wood stove. And life goes on, just on a slightly different path.

Family traditions, favourite recipes and comfort often go hand in hand. It’s sometimes too much of a shock to our system for things to change too much at once, so gradual changes seem to be easier to take and allow us to gather strength to face life’s next chapter. Food too can form part of the of our family comfort rituals, but sometimes as life goes on the changes that we face are ones in our diets.

The recipe featured today is my family’s absolute favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and one that I thought we’d have to abandon forever due to my husband’s wheat allergy that started to impact him in his late 40s. His symptoms include esophagitis, which often presents with chest pain, so it is a situation that we take seriously. Making good quality cookies that are wheat free is a challenge, as wheat free baking can be unforgiving if you do not take care in the mixing and baking process. (Wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity are two entirely different medical issues, but if you use non-wheat gluten free flour in your recipes, you are eliminating wheat, so making baked goods with gluten free flour is appropriate in my hubby’s case.) Use Robin Hood gluten free flour in a 1:1 substitution, and you can usually finish up with a good product. Unfortunately gluten provides the structure that our baked goods need, so the trick is blend gently, and make sure you don’t over bake. If you do, your products will taste like paper…very dry paper. These cookies should only be beaten for the minimum amount to blend the ingredients, and cooked just long enough for them to be chewy in the centre.

Here’s the recipe – thank you Chipits – I’ve been making this recipe since my boys were toddlers. Remember that if you want this recipe to be wheat free, check the ingredient listing on the other ingredients such as baking powder. I use Robin Hood gluten free flour as it allows a 1:1 substitution and you don’t need to add xanthan gum (xanthan gum is often added to gluten free flour to keep products from falling apart after baking). Also, in this recipe, if you want truly chewy cookies, use margarine, not butter. Butter will cause the ends of the cookies to thin and crisp. Margarine will allow the cookies to retain a nice rounded edge. For my hubby, milk is another allergen, so he enjoys these with a nice tall glass of rice milk. Sigh…so many changes as we go down life’s path. Maybe I won’t gift the momma chair just yet.

Yours in love and all things baked! XOX Victoria Sweet