Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays Book: Mother’s Day Giveaway!

Cover--Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays COVHey all! I just wanted to let you know that I love hearing from everyone about how they have been baking from my book even though it’s not the Thanksgiving-Hannukah-Christmas season. Me, too! Every week I bake at least one thing from my book. And a friend of mine just asked me to make her a bûche de Noël for her June wedding as an extra cake for gluten-free folks. Instead of a Christmas log, we will call it a Spring Woodland log.

I realize that some folks don’t know that the book has recipes that can be made all year round. Even though the book’s focus is on the winter holidays, there are recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, breads, and pastries that fit any occasion.  For example, this week alone I’ve made the Chocolate Chip Cookies for a family treat and the Cheese Straws and Crackers for a wine date with a pal.  This weekend I’m going to make fried chicken and will use the Buttermilk Biscuits as a side.  And Girlfriend has requested that I make the Pumpkin Doughnuts as a snack tomorrow as an end-of-school-testing-week treat.

Therefore, I’d like to offer one personalized and signed copy of my book as a Mother’s Day gift for a special mom out there. To enter, see directions at the bottom of this post.

I’ve talked about my mom from time to time on the blog. She died in 1998, a few days after Mother’s Day. She had OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAadvanced breast cancer, but her system was so weak from treatment that she ended up having a heart attack while driving to work, which then caused her to have collision with a semi-truck. The semi-truck driver was fine, thank goodness.  After my siblings and I were able to get past the shock of our mother’s sudden death, we realized that she died just as she lived–in a blaze of glory. If you knew my mom, you know that she lived big. And she died big. I know it sounds crazy, but my siblings and my mom’s friends and I are kind of tickled at how she died because it was so over the top. You couldn’t die in a more dramatic way.  In addition, people told us that they saw an amazing rainbow in the direction of the highway on the day that she died. Everyone said, “I couldn’t believe how beautiful the rainbow was and then I heard about your mom and knew that it was her.”

My mom had a heart bigger than the size of California and enough determination to move mountains. Whenever I think about everything she did, I can’t quite believe it. She had her fair share of adversity. She was an alcoholic as a young adult, and she had two marriages and divorces. By the time I was 13, she was a recovered alcoholic and a single, divorced working mom with four young kids to raise–with me as the eldest.  You would think this would be enough for anyone to handle, but not for my mom–she was involved in everything. She worked full-time as a traveling speech and language therapist for the public school system where we lived. She had two master’s degrees. She not only went to church, but was the organist there. She went to a movie club, a book club, and had regular coffee dates with everyone she knew. She was quick to offer help to anyone.  When a friend’s son was in a coma after a horrific accident, my mom went to read to him several times a week for months.  We always had someone living with us.  One was a dear friend of ours who had bipolar disorder and couldn’t quite get on her feet.  The janitor from church camped out in our yard for awhile when my mom found out that he was homeless.  He didn’t want to intrude and therefore wouldn’t stay inside, but he had a nice tent and our climate was fairly temperate.  One of my high school friends got kicked out of the house by her parents for not wanting to go to the “right” college (!), so she came to live with us.

My mom believed she could do anything–and instilled that sense in all of us. There was never any thought that we couldn’t do what we set our minds to do. Whatever needed to be done, she just did it.  She was the kind of person that climbed up on our roof on rainy nights to put tarps over the holes. There was nothing she couldn’t fix with a little duct tape–I inherited that talent from her. We lived in a small town in California that had a large migrant farm worker population–and many of their kids were my mom’s students. My mom was also an audiologist, so in addition to knowing sign language, my mom learned Spanish so she could communicate well with her charges. We had parties where she invited her students to come over and do sign language “recitations.”  My siblings and I participated.  For years I would regale folks with my sign language version of “I Never Saw a Purple Cow” to rave reviews.

Whenever one of us kids wanted to learn something, she made it happen (although I don’t quite know how she did that–we were on such a tight budget). We all got various music lessons and went to camps.  As a very young kid, I wanted to go into theatre. She enrolled me in acting lessons and camps and classes and then later drove me to community theatres all over our small town to get to and from rehearsal. Finally, when I was about 15, she got me a moped because she needed the freedom to drive my younger siblings to all of their things, too. I grew up knowing that I would succeed at anything I wanted to engage with. I hope that I’m helping Girlfriend to do the same thing.

My mom also allowed me to have free rein in the kitchen. At certain points in her life, she was an avid cook–and had even belonged to a cookbook club when we were really young. I remember standing on a stool in the kitchen one afternoon and helping her to roll dolmades for the “Greek” night at her cookbook club. As long as I can remember, she let me experiment as much as I wanted to in the kitchen. And there were many cookbooks to help me along. I did have an Easy Bake oven for awhile, but that didn’t last long for me.  I wanted to bake “real” things.  I would peruse the cookbooks at nap time (I was an odd kid) and then go into the kitchen and work on recipes I thought looked fun. When I was very little, I had to climb up on top of the counters to get to the cupboards. To this day I can feel the cold counter linoleum on my knees as a hoisted myself up.

Of course, as a kid, most of the recipes that appealed to me were baked items–cookies and cakes–so I worked on those. For a long stretch of time in my elementary school years, our oven was broken and we didn’t have the money to fix it. That didn’t bother me–I just fried the cookies on top of the stove. And I made lots and lots of pancakes. At one point I tried to rig up a stove top oven using cookie sheets formed into a box shape–I don’t think that was very successful. I made do with whatever ingredients I could find in the cupboards.  For the most part, it was fairly well-stocked kitchen in the scheme of things–all of the basics were there–but I used substitutions if necessary.  For example, there was never any vanilla extract in the cupboards, so I just learned to use vanilla beans that were there–which made my cookies and pancakes look a bit odd to me, but they tasted good so I didn’t care.

Of course, when my mom died, it was devastating for all of us. But, it also felt oddly right somehow. She burned so brightly that she burned out sooner than others. I still miss her fiercely and am sad that Girlfriend never got a chance to meet her Grandma Barbara. But, she is with me in spirit and I’m grateful to have been able to call her my mom.

To enter the giveaway: leave a comment telling me something awesome about being a mom yourself or about your own mom or mother-in-law. Please leave a comment by 11 pm PST on Monday, May 6, 2013. I will choose a name at random using the Random Number Generator and contact you via email if you are the winner!

The winner, chosen by the Random Number Generator is Gloria!  I’ve sent an email to her.  Thank you so much for your lovely and moving stories about the moms in your life and about being a mom and a grandma.  I so loved reading them.

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  1. says

    Hi Jeanne,
    I met you at the Tom Douglas’ Cookbook Social and tasted your wonderful cookies. I bought the book and made the Benne Cookies. Wonderful! I’ve got several more recipes in mind to try.

    I’m going to use your gluten-free flour blend to make my mom’s buttermilk pancakes for Christmas breakfast tomorrow. I’m confident they’ll be great! Merry Christmas and thank you for your wonderful book!

    • says

      Kath: Awesome! One thing to be aware of: your pancakes will probably need some baking powder. I would add some if your mom’s recipe doesn’t have any. Merry Christmas!

  2. Michelle L says

    Right now the best part of being a mom is becoming a Nana (Grandmother). Not once but twice! And seeing our own daughter turn into a loving and caring mom herself. Having our family traditions continued and a new generation added on to our family tree is such a blessing.
    Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers!

  3. Lorna R says

    My mom spent a lot of time in the kitchen when my siblings and I were younger because we lived in a remote part of Latin America where few convenience products were available. Since returning to the States many years ago, she has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Only recently have I been successful in making her understand the correlation between her condition and the consumption of gluten. Now she follows a gluten-free diet and is feeling much better.

  4. Valerie says

    My mom has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She has been such an inspiration to me, especially now that I am a parent. I am a single mom to a wonderful little boy and we are new to gluten free living. I find myself scouring the Internet for GF recipes. Some are great, some are not. I am excited to have found this blog. It is so helpful! Thank you!!

  5. Megan says

    My mum is an inspiration and such a strong woman. She was diagnosed with leukaemia 3 years ago, and recently managed to raise $2,500 for the foundation to help others. She perseveres, even when she is having a bad day on her meds, and always manages a laugh. I am the one with high level gluten intolerance but she always has gf food at her house in case I visit and always double/triplr checks ingredients when she cooks for me, and always cooks everything gf, even if it makes it harder for her. Both her and my Dad are awesome about it!!

  6. Marilyn says

    I am a grandmother raising her 8 year old grandson. I appreciate the recipes you share on your blog!!! My grandson has many food sensitivities. Thank you for the help and inspiration you give me.

  7. Ghita Olesen says

    I am a mom from Denmark. :) My 3 kids are the World for me. I don´t know if I can be a member of this Give away, but I know you have helped me a lot during the Period where I had to live Gluten free. And I want to thank You for all your Recipes. I was very touched reading about Your mom. I our family we have had tough times too, but we stick together.
    Hugs from me to you :)

  8. Lee Amundson says

    I am a mom of 4 wonderful, beautiful kids. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 4. I have been on this gluten free journey for almost 10 years now and I love how it has helped my family be more mindful of what we eat. I can only hope that my kids will someday enjoy cooking and baking as much as I do.

  9. says

    A phenomenal love story to your mom! I read every word with a smile!
    Every Mother’s Day I thank my mother for nurturing my creativity. She was always very busy with work and a family of four but made time and space to keep the doors of my imagination wide open!

  10. Kathie Broderson says

    I am a mother of 4 and now grandmother of 7. I began working outside of home after our 4 children were all over 12 because I wanted to be with them in those informative years. I chose to work with special needs children as a para educator and have gained much experience with these children. I usually work with ones who are medically fragile and quite often have seizure disorders. Due to the economy our son and his family have been living with us for two years now and it’s working well. They have three boys, the youngest one is now 20 months old. Little did I know that early in Dec. of 2011 I would use those skills to help save our then only 4 months old grandson life. He had a siezure and had to be hospitalized for 10 days. He has now been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and is doing well. We hope that he will walk before his 5th birthday. I am just so greatful that the life experiences in my tapestry of life helped me be calm and collected to be able to help save my youngest grandson.

  11. Cara says

    I am a mother of 3 awesome kids (11, 5, and 3). My mother was diagnosed with Celiac disease about a year ago and doesn’t do a very good job of avoiding gluten. I began experimenting with it myself as a help to her and honestly, me too! I try to set an example of gluten-freeness for her, though I fall very short when faced with certain yummy things. She has adopted 4 kids in addition to the 4 of us she raised when she was younger. It is difficult for her to get everyone everywhere, feed them what they’ll eat and still stay gluten free. I want her around for a long time to come, so hopefully I’ll win this cookbook and fill her tummy right up with things she’ll love!

  12. says

    I was born on my mother’s birthday, so despite both being vehement, independent, outspoken Leos, we got along very well. She died in 2008, and it is still odd celebrating my birthday, alone…

  13. Gloria says

    Full of laughter and love, my mother-in-law accepted me for who I was. She never criticized but instead was supportive and encouraging in all that I did. She was this happy, bubbly lady whom I often see in my daughters’ personalities. We baked together at Thanksgiving, we took my young daughters shopping on their birthdays, and she was always doing special things for me to show how special motherhood is. She passed away suddenly in a car wreck; I still miss her knowledge and advice. She will always be my role-model for what a grandma should be. I am thankful to have known her and sad that she is not here to impart her sparkle about life.

  14. Shealyn says

    I love seeing my children triumph over struggles and become better. It is a great reward to see them developing these strengths of endurance and perseverance.

  15. Erin C says

    My mother-in-law is amazing. She’s like a one-stop shop wedding factory. She bakes the most beautiful wedding cakes, and actually makes wedding dresses! She made my wedding dress and it was beautiful!

  16. Carolyn says

    My mom stressed how important it was to be respectful, to be polite, and to always use good manners. My little brother and I would try but it was the most difficult when we had to practice these virtues on each other. What patience she had! We were so impressed that she could hit a baseball all the way down to the end of our residential street! It seemed like it was a huge distance because we weren’t allowed to cross the street or walk to the end of it. She also could whistle through her teeth with two fingers that anyone would be envious of! I thank her for working hard to take care of our family of six. This summer we will be celebrating her 90th birthday. And we all agree she still makes the best breakfast burrito!

  17. Natalie G says

    As a mom of three, I love cooking healthy meals for my family. My youngest can’t understand why her friends favorites are hot dogs and chicken nuggets (not that those are bad in a pinch) when there are so many great things to try! Her favorite is lemon chicken with roasted veggie risotto.

  18. Aryn says

    I’m a new mom. My daughter is 9 months old and brings me more joy than I imagined she would. Yes, there are challenges, but the rewards are truly amazing.

  19. Kate says

    One of my mother’s gifts to me was that she doesnt enjoy cooking, so I took it up out of self-preservation. Learning to figure things out has been a blessing as I married a man with multiple food allergies and had a son with a tree nut allergy. If she hadn’t allowed me freedom to try things, I might have a great deal more trouble diving in to the world of gluten-, corn-, soy-, tree-nut-, legume-free cooking!

  20. SkyePurls says

    I love that both my kids eagerly join me in the kitchen, getting involved in everything from picking out the menu, to the shopping, chopping, mixing and cooking! I know this is creating a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

  21. Drena Paulson says

    My son recently texted me all excited. We had run out of mayo and he made his own. Score! Teach a child to cook and he’ll eat we’ll for life. He says I’ve ruined him because when he eats anywhere else the foods not good! I guess it’s hard to have a mom as a chef. My dad was a chef and I guess I’ve passed on the foodie/chef gene!

  22. Brad G says

    I have an awesome mom!!! My Mom had breast cancer, too, but fortunately she beat it. She was a teacher before my brothers and I were born, and after my youngest brother was basically grown up, she started a chocolate catering business, making centerpieces and all sorts of other chocolate works of art. Interestingly enough, she just started a gluten free diet recently after reading that Belly Doctor book damning wheat. (I’ve been gluten free for 12 years, nice to have her along for the ride.)

  23. Marieann Marshall says

    My mom was not only my mom but my dad (he choose not to be in the picture) but my brother (who is 15 years older) and my sister (who is 14 years older) but also my best friend. She was a strong loving women who raised me on her own and even though she became very sick she still showed me more love than anybody else could have. She helped to raise my Neices and Nephews as well and no matter how sick she was she made sure she was always there for us all. She is now an Angel in Heaven and I know she is still with me because I feel her every day.

  24. terrie says

    My Mother-in-law is the kindest & most generous woman I have ever known. I think it always bothered her that she couldn’t cook for her family so she is always supplying us with loads of goodies from Costco or taking us out to dinner. I was recently diagnosed with Celiac & I came home yesterday to 4 bags of Gluten-Free bread & hamburger buns on my porch. I just love her! :)

  25. Kelly Grace says

    The best part of being a mom right now is when I witness my kids doing something I taught them (even though they pretended like they weren’t paying attention).
    Ahhhhhh. Teenagers.

  26. catherine says

    my mom is awesome not because she always cooked the best dinners, not because she helped us build the coolest tents, but because she was always there for my sister and I, to provide guidance or an ear to listen whenever we asked.

  27. Sallie says

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your mother. My mother, who raised 5 children by herself, was a wonderful cook. She was a caterer in addition to working as a lab technician. I inherited her love of cooking and have never regretted it for a minute. Her determination prepared me for my journey as a Celiac. Without her guidance, I cannot imagine where I would be today. She died very young of cancer and there is not a day that I do not miss her and strive to honor her spirit!

  28. Tricia says

    My son started helping me in the kitchen when he was 2 1/2 years old. He quickly learned the ins and outs of the kitchen. My daughter started helping when she saw his creations. They are both grown
    now and we all help in the kitchen when we are together. My grandbaby is 2 1/2 now and enjoys helping her mom and creating
    in her kitchen. Fun times!

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