Bake Like a (magical) Pro

Bake Like a Pro by Falynn KochI am far from a pro as far as baking is concerned, but I do believe it is a little bit magical so a graphic novel that follows a magical intern in a kitchen couldn’t go wrong with me.

It turns out baking is both science and magic, at least according to the wizard in this enchanted kitchen. I admit, I made a lot of the mistakes Sage makes in the book myself. The big mistake that I seemed to make again and again over the years is skipping over (or not quite following certain directions) because you don’t think they’re important. When you are faced with a final product that is flat when it is supposed to be fluffy or dry when it’s supposed to be moist, you start to realize that every bit of the directions are important. Fortunately, there are books like this one that tell you why they are important—from why butter should be at different temperatures for different recipes to how the amount or type of flour you use will affect your cookies. Readers don’t have to ruin a whole batch of cookies to learn like I did! Plus, there’s a bit of fun and silliness in the mix. Win-win.

Baking just may be the closest we can get to magic here in the real world, so wanna-be wizards should consider the kitchen and fire up their stand mixers. I know I will.  As the baking wizard says: “Not magical? Baking is a tangible form of magic! It is alchemy! Transforming basic into fantastic! Inedible to delicious!”

Now I’m off to try one of the 8 recipes included in the book. :)

Finding the food that loves me

I’ve spent the past few weeks slowly cutting out more and more of some of my favorite types of foods. First I gave up my usual cereal for Chex. Then I gave up pasta. Then bread.  All in the name of going gluten-free.  It’s just a trial run on the basis of my mom’s diagnosis with celiac disease.  I am generally loathe to follow diet fads, but, given the genetic link, I’m giving it a try in order to feel better.

So, of course, I’ve been perusing lots of gluten-free cookbooks lately trying to figure out what exactly I can eat.  My favorite so far has been Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.  Aside from the frugality angle, which I like, it also has more recipes that seem like things I would actually make than any other books I’d looked at.   I admit that I loved Shauna James Ahern’s Gluten-Free Girl, and her recipes seem like they would be amazing.  But I am not a gourmet cook.  I need relatively simple, yet still interesting, food.  I do, however, highly recommend Gluten-Free Girl for anyone who struggles with food issues.  It is wonderfully inspiring. As I wrote in my Library Journal review of the book: “Engaging and passionate, this book will make everyone who reads it remember the pleasure of food. ”

Back to Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, the copy I have is due back at the library tomorrow, so I suppose I will have to content myself with the author’s web site until I can get my own copy. Here is the Polenta Pizza I made from a recipe in this book:

It certainly isn’t going to replace pizza in our lives, but we’ll definitely be making it again.  :)