Life has many interesting twists and turns. In the many years we have lived the gluten free life, I have been most impressed with what Shauna James Ahern has produced with her blog The Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef. Funny–because she credits my book Cooking Gluten-Free! with helping her adapt to gluten free living in her early years of diagnosis. I think we share this mutual admiration because we both are drawn to quality ingredients and presentation.
Finally, after all these years we meet.
Shauna graceously invited me and my 18-year old daughter, Carmen to spend the day with her and her 2-year old Lucy cooking gluten free recipes. I also got to meet Danny—what a terrific family. They are living the life of early childhood, loving food and each other. Living life slower and with more meaning than I think most of us do; we could all take a moment to really think about that and try to live those values better. There is something wonderful about the passion Shauna and Danny have for food and helping those on the gluten free diet. While my husband taught me how to cook–and he still does a lot of it–we aren’t collaborating on a book and blog together and sharing the same business. We orbit around each other doing our own thing and see each other for a short periods in the morning and again at night with the demands of teenagers in between, which while not as physically demanding as toddlers or young children, I think it is a challenging place to be in life. It can really test you in ways you never expected.
Looking back, it would have been nice to have structured our life differently to live it slower, but we never really thought about it that way.
My daughter accompanied me to Shauna’s since soon she will be off at work for the summer and then to college so I thought a trip to the island for the day would be fun for us. I had hoped that as a budding photographer she would take some pictures for the blog but it never really happened. This post will be mostly pictureless. I did find this picture of a kiwi that Carmen took for a science project so it will have to suffice.
Kiwi-by Carmen Robertson
Shauna took pictures of our cooking that day, maybe she will post them soon. A cute moment in the day was when Lucy was patting a child sized chair for my long legged 6-foot tall daughter to sit down in next to Lu.
Gluten Free Pasta
My favorite part of the day was trying Shauna’s new pasta recipe. Being married to a chef has so many benefits! They have created some excellent gluten free pasta—that recipe alone will be worth the price of their book which should be available September 21st on Amazon.
I looked through her galley copy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef— the book is full of photos, excellent cooking tips, and delicious gluten free recipes.
Anyone who appreciates reading Shauna’s blog should show her that appreciation by buying a copy of this new book. A tremendous amount of testing went into the recipes so that you can make excellent gluten free food the first time without any waste. This unique aspect is true for very few gluten free cookbooks or recipes on the Internet. It is so nice to have recipes that you can depend upon, you know they are good.
The pasta had a nice “tooth”. Fresh pasta only needs to cook for a few minutes and the texture of her pasta is such that cooked al dente it has the flavor and structure needed to hold up to any sauce you pair it with. We ate it simply with olive oil. It is hard to describe but it had almost a buttery taste to it without any butter. The trick to the flavor is in the recipe.
Shauna was inspired by corn-based pasta in Italy (which I did not realize is typical) and Danny applied his magic to the recipe….very satisfying.
Gluten Free Pizza Crust Tip
We went on to make pizza crusts, each of us sharing our way of making crust. And of course I learned a few things….or should I say she inspired me to go back to doing some things I used to do all the time. The homemade pasta was rolled through an Atlas pasta machine. I have one, used it all the time when we made wheat base pasta before diagnosis. It has been packed away for years (but now I have to go find it). I also used my pizza stone years ago in our wheat filled days. Shauna keeps hers in the oven and places the pizza crust dough on a metal pizza pan and places the pan on top of the stone with the oven heated to 500 degrees. I tried it with my recipe and it really makes a difference. My pizza crust recipe now incorporates that change. This difference is HUGE.
We did not have time to explore the island or eat at Danny’s restaurant since my daughter was tired from all of the graduation parties of the past few weeks and she had surgery the following day….but of course now we have a good reason to go back. I thought about leaving something important behind so I would have to go back for it…Lu loved my big yellow purse so that was a possibility but it sounds like Danny even makes a gluten free dessert at the restaurant…so we will have to go back for that.