Search This Blog

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Love, Death and Apple Pie

Yes, I’m from Transylvania. And no, I’ve never seen a vampire. Why do people always ask?

Flip through any fantasy magazine, and you’ll see the ads. Lovers of the Night - Join Us! Vampire swords for sale. Vampire jewellery. On-line chatline - conversation that bites! Read the magazine’s guidelines and you’ll see ‘No more vampire stories.’ But people keep writing them.

Why the movies, books and clubs? Why the advertisements for red contact lenses and cosmetic dental surgery?

Maybe it’s the supernatural powers. They say vampires are stronger and faster than mere humans. They’re immortal and can change into bat form and fly. Faster and stronger, especially without having to work out, sounds good. And flying, sure, flying appeals, but I don’t see the attraction of bathood. They’re still rodents, after all.

No, that can’t be it. After all, how many adults wander around dressed as Superman or the Mighty Thor? Outside of cons, I mean.

Let’s drag a little Freudian analysis in to get to the bitten—er, the bottom—of this. You know, where someone’s innocuous-looking behaviour actually represents a longing buried deep in their subconscious. Most people find vampires sexy, so that can’t be the motivating desire. Too easy. It has to be something hidden, something relating back to childhood.

Why not start with a list of things to be explained. Vampires roam at night, avoiding sunlight. They sleep in coffins. They steal the life-force from other people by sucking blood. They’ve apparently got hypnotic powers, as their victims take pleasure in being abused in this way.

What do these behaviours really represent? Ah-hah! Blood-sucking, that’s the clue. It’s not normal human behaviour, but taking nourishment from the body of another is - for a baby. So vampires represent a wish to return to our infancy, where our desires were met without our having to do more than cry.

It all fits. Vampires live in darkness - surely an analogy for the safety of the womb. And most babies are safely wrapped up before ever being taken outside. Have you ever seen one of those frilly little beds for newborns? Or an old-fashioned pram? Oval, lined with satin, trimmed with lace and ribbon, not so different from a casket.

Hypnotic powers? One gurgle and every adult within hearing rushes over to help. Supernatural speed and strength? Don’t tell me you’ve never let a younger sibling win a race or a wrestling match. How do you think they felt, knowing they were faster than the grownups?

Immortality? Every kid thinks they're indestructible. Ask any mother. And one preschooler has enough energy to exhaust several adults.

The whole thing is pretty clever. Instead of looking like whiny little brats who haven’t grown up, vampires come across as cool, sophisticated, sexy rebels. If only I could find a similar shtick.

So the next time your neighbourhood’s infested, forget the garlic. If a vampire approaches you for a midnight snack, offer him a bottle instead.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Bisquick Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

 Bisquick Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

This one’s also from the out-of-print Bisquick cookbook, Two in the Kitchen. It’s easy to make, no exotic ingredients, makes lots, the dough handles well, everything I like in a recipe. While the results the first time I made it were good, you couldn’t really taste the chocolate so I tweaked it the second time.

3 ounces chocolate chips, melted*

1 cup peanut butter

¼ cup shortening

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup water+

2 cups Bisquick


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt the chocolate chips. If you have a large microwavable bowl, you can do it in that and then add the rest of the ingredients, saving dishes and the chocolate that would be lost by transferring from another container.

Cream together melted chocolate, peanut butter, shortening, and white and brown sugar. Stir in water (or hot cocoa) and vanilla. Add in Bisquick.

Shape into 1-inch balls. Flatten with fork. Bake 7 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before removing from pan as they’re a bit fragile while warm.

Makes approximately 5 dozen, depending on size of balls and how many are taken by quality control before the last batch is baked.

 

* If you’re out of chocolate chips (the horror!) you can use 2 ounces of Baker’s Chocolate instead. The recipe won’t be as sweet.

+ For more intense chocolate taste, combine 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 tablespoon sugar and enough hot water to make up 1/3 cup.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Ordinary People

 Our world’s attention is centred on celebrities, whether they be athletes, politicians, models, the very rich, or just famous for being famous. And yet, if they all suddenly disappeared, would anyone but their managers notice? Sure, we’d miss the entertainment, but they’re not the ones who get their hands dirty doing the world’s work. That’s done by ordinary people, you, your family, your friends and neighbours. All of us who get up each morning (or evening) and put in an honest day’s work, whether that work’s paid or appreciated or not.

The mother who wakes up early to make her kids’ lunches, the older brother who keeps his younger sister amused so his dad can make dinner, the niece who visits her aunt each week in the seniors’ home, these are the people that matter.

The school crossing guard, the volunteer at the food bank, the greeters at church, the women’s group at the synagogue, they’re the ones that keep things running.

The workers on the assembly line, the cleaning staff at the gym, the teenager stocking shelves at your grocery store, they’re all doing important work. We should celebrate that.

So smile at the grocery store clerk, thank the librarian, wave at the guy picking up your garbage. Take time to appreciate somebody each day.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Microwave Graham Date Tea Cakes

These come out about the size and shape of an English muffin but have a soft crumb and cake-like texture.

1 cup cut-up dates
hot tea
1 cup margarine (combined with shortening, if you like)
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup graham wafer crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder

Place cut-up dates loosely in a one or two-cup measuring cup. Pour hot tea over them to the one cup mark. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream margarine and sugar. Add in vanilla and egg. Combine flour, graham crumbs and baking powder. Stir into margarine/sugar mixture. Stir in dates and tea.

Drop a large tablespoon into each well of a silicon muffin pan. Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes. Let cool a few minutes before unmoulding. 

Makes 15-18

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Polar Dreams

 Note: Since writing this, I've added a bright light to my repertoire. It really helps!

            It's not that I hate winter.  The first snowfall is always beautiful, and I delight in the sight of bare trees, branches limned in frost.  Hearing the snow crunch under my boots as I walk on a crisp January morning, or staring up at the brilliant winter stars, I rejoice in the variety of the Canadian climate.  But not every day is a Christmas card.

            I crave heat and sunlight in the dank, dreary, dismal depths of darkest December; crave them fiercely.  Bad enough that the days are short, but when they're gloomy and overcast as well, so am I.  My happiness and optimism levels depend on the amount of sunshine each day.

            I'd hibernate if I could; turn my bedroom into a cozy den where I could sleep through the worst of the winter.  Soft pillows, warm blankets, a darkened room.  But I can't live off my fat like a polar bear.  Sighing, I struggle out of the blankets each morning and find my way downstairs.  Maybe a cup of coffee will give me the energy I need.  It's hard to wake up before the sun does.  And some days the sun never does.

            I do have methods of coping.  When I used to work in Toronto, I would spend sunny lunch hours perched on the stairs between the third and fourth floors of the office.  The south wall of the stairwell was made of glass, and the heat of the sun pouring through was a mood-altering drug.  While I've lost that window, there are others.

            If I've been grocery shopping and left my car parked in the sun, I'll sit for several minutes, basking in the light, before I turn the key and head for home.  Sometimes I join the cat and lie on the living room carpet, belly exposed to those warming rays.  I keep all of the curtains open during the day, to let in as much light as possible.

            By February, the dreams start, dreams of sunny tropical islands with blue-green water, warm sand and palm trees.  And always warm white light surrounding me.  Aaahh!  I was disappointed when I travelled to Tobago and discovered that the Caribbean was the same boring blue as Lake Ontario, quite salty, and not at all warm.

            There was one exception.  We took a tour in a glass-bottomed boat out to the reef.  I don't swim well, and I'd never snorkelled, so I was nervous.  Floating on top of the water, looking down through my mask at all the brightly-coloured fish, I soon relaxed.  The reef was a marvellous experience, but the high point for me was the stop on the way back to shore.

            We anchored out in the bay at a spot the locals called the "Nylon Pool".  The sea was shallow enough there that I could stand on the bottom, digging my toes into the sun-warmed sand.  Waves as warm as bath water gently lapped around me.  And the colour!  This one small patch of sea was the blue-green of which I'd always dreamed.

            It's only October, but the dreams have started already.  I think we're in for a long winter.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Almost Angel Food Cake

 

My chocolate cola cupcakes came out so well that I decided to try new variations. This white cake and cream soda version reminded me of angel food cake, but was a lot less work. I baked this in a 9 x 13 pan but I think I’ll try the ring pan or my bundt pan next time.

There are several versions of cake or cupcakes with pop as an ingredient online but, given the ingredients, I suspect this Betty Crocker version is the original: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/two-ingredient-soda-pop-cupcakes/3cbb154a-60b4-4250-bc2a-70909d1b924a. And with only two ingredients, it doesn’t get much simpler.

However, some of the reviews said the resulting cupcakes were dry and crumbly. When I read the back of the box, I realized that the liquid from the pop that was going in was a lesser volume than the liquid being left out (eggs, oil, water). So I put two of the eggs back in when I tried the recipe and the result was moist and luscious.

1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix (the size that makes a 13 x 9 cake)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups cream soda

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour into cake pan(s) of desired size. Bake according to directions on the cake mix box, using the longer time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Chocolate Cola Cupcakes

 

I found several versions of cake or cupcakes with pop as an ingredient online but, given the ingredients, I suspect this Betty Crocker version is the original: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/two-ingredient-soda-pop-cupcakes/3cbb154a-60b4-4250-bc2a-70909d1b924a. And with only two ingredients, it doesn’t get much simpler.

However, some of the reviews said the resulting cupcakes were dry and crumbly and it was hard to get the paper liners off. When I read the back of the box, I realized that the liquid from the pop that was going in was a lesser volume than the liquid being left out (eggs, oil, water). So I put two of the eggs back in when I tried the recipe and the result was moist and luscious. And since I was baking them in a silicon muffin mould, sticking wasn’t really a problem, though I did have to make them in three batches since my mould only has six wells.

1 box Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix (the size that makes a 13 x 9 cake)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups cola (generic is fine)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour a scant 1/3 cup of batter into each well of the silicon muffin mould.

Bake according to directions on the cake mix box, using the longer time. Let cool slightly before removing from mould. I find running my cake tester (a very thin wire) or a toothpick around the edge of each cupcake before turning out makes them more likely to come out in one piece.

Makes 15

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Why Women Take Longer to Shop for Bathing Suits than Men Do

 

We know the average guy can be in and out of a store with a new bathing suit in less than 10 minutes, even if that store is the one at the local truck stop down the highway from your buddy’s cottage ‘cause you left your trunks at home and their neighbours shoot skinnydippers. So you’re probably wondering why women treat shopping for a swimsuit as if it were a military campaign or the latest assault on Everest, often requiring more than one excursion.

Here’s why: We have more than two styles (trunks or Speedo) to choose from. Do we want a one piece, a two piece, lots of coverage, as little coverage as we can get away with, built-in support, built-in tummy constrictor (yes, really!)…

Women’s suits don’t come in “one size fits most” with drawstring waist, so we can’t just grab a medium off the “on sale” pile. We actually have to try it on. And so often the top will fit and the bottom won’t, or vice versa. Or the cut reveals our worst features and covers up our best ones. Or the colour’s wrong, or…

We have to read the washing instructions. Not all suits are wash and wear; some are designed strictly for the beach, water will ruin them! Especially those snazzy sequined numbers.

Why go to all that trouble? ‘Cause we want to look good for you, of course! While simultaneously passing muster with our girlfriends, our mothers, our daughters….what do you mean, it’s September already?

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Baked Bisquick Chocolate Waffles

 

The regular baked waffle recipe came out so well that I decided to experiment with chocolate. While this version is chocolatey, it’s not overly sweet. Of course, you can change that with toppings.

This will fill my two rectangular waffle moulds twice. So that makes 16 waffles that are 12.5 x 8 cm or roughly 5 x 3 inches. But I usually use my round moulds that give me 4 small heart-shaped waffles each and end up with 20 or so.

2 cups Bisquick
¼ cup cocoa
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
2 eggs
dash vanilla

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place waffle moulds on a cookie sheet.

Stir ingredients until blended. Pour batter into moulds just to top of the bumps. It rises quite a bit in baking and if you overfill, your waffles won’t be flat.

Bake 12 minutes. Flip waffles out of moulds and other side up onto cookie sheet. Bake an additional 5 minutes.

These freeze quite well. I find 30 seconds on high in the microwave to thaw them out before toasting them is about right.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Doing Church in COVID

 

I originally wrote this for my church’s newsletter but thought other cat slaves might enjoy it as well.

I miss physical church, the communal singing, the greetings and nods to people I know, and just the feeling of being part of a larger community. But at least one member of our family is happy about virtual church and won’t like it when we return to attending live. Meet Pipsqueak, the spoiled tabby that shares our home with us. Back before COVID, it was a standing joke between my husband and me to say to the cat on our way out the door, “Goodbye, Pipsqueak. Sorry we can’t take you to church, but you’d be too much of a disruption.”

And she would have been, too. Can you imagine a poor, unsuspecting cat from a childless household being set loose among a bunch of preschoolers? Squeals of joy would be followed by a hissy fit (that would be Pipsqueak), ending in the loud howls of the poor toddler who got scratched trying to pat the “nice kitty.” And possibly by the nearest adult as Pipsqueak climbed up them in a panic to reach safety. There’d be a lesson learned, all right, but not the one the teacher meant to cover.

After we’d retrieved her and brought her into the sanctuary with us, things wouldn’t be any better. She’d probably perch herself on my husband’s shoulders where she’d feel safer, which would draw a lot of attention. Or she’d be frightened and wriggle out of our grasp and run away to hide. Ditto. Or she’d start off across the pews, crossing everyone’s lap in turn until she found one that was congenial. Or run in front of someone and trip them as they’re going up the aisle.

But church in the living room is different. Once the laptop is up and running, I sit on the couch and my husband grabs the comfy chair (makes for a bigger lap). Pipsqueak jumps up on him and settles down, purring happily since she knows he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I would have thought the noise would bother her but as long as the worship team doesn’t play anything that sounds like ringing phones or doorbells, she naps peacefully and my husband’s legs remain unscratched from a frantic leap off his lap, claws dug in for traction.

If it’s communion Sunday, we need to bribe her to keep her away from our pieces of bread. She doesn’t understand communion, but, just like a toddler, she understands that we’re getting “snacks” and she wants her fair share. Cat treats are perfectly acceptable (better her than me). We get fed spiritually and she gets to spend time with her people. And isn’t that part of what church is about?

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Baked Bisquick Waffles

 

Several months ago we went through a period when frozen waffles – a staple in our house -were hard to find in our grocery stores. Since my baked doughnut moulds had worked so well, I decided to buy some waffle moulds to try. Yes, they’re easy to make, taste better than the plain store-bought ones (not the more expensive Belgian waffle variety) and don’t require you to own a waffle iron.

The recipe is basically the one on the Bisquick box (thanks, Betty Crocker!) with a few tweaks to make them crisper and to make the right amount of batter to fill my two rectangular waffle moulds twice. So that makes 16 waffles that are 12.5 x 8 cm or roughly 5 x 3 inches.

2 ¼ cups Bisquick
1 ½ cups milk
2 eggs
dash vanilla

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place waffle moulds on a cookie sheet.

Stir ingredients until blended. Pour batter into moulds just to top of the bumps. It rises quite a bit in baking and if you overfill, your waffles won’t be flat.

Bake 12 minutes. Flip waffles out of moulds and other side up onto cookie sheet. If you’re planning on serving them immediately, you could also throw a few strips of precooked bacon on the cookie sheet. Bake an additional 5 minutes, until golden.

These freeze quite well. I find 30 seconds on high in the microwave to thaw them out before toasting them is about right.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Cat Owner's Guide to TV

 

Our cat Pipsqueak loves watching TV. She can spend hours on her favourite seat in the back porch staring through the screen at the Big Backyard Channel. Of course, its programming is rather erratic. Sometimes there’s nothing on for hours but the station identification. Sometimes the screen shows nothing but snow. And the regular programming is frequently taken over by the Crow News Network. While the announcers sound excited, it seems to be the same old stories in rotation, a nest invasion, a knocked-over garbage can, a bun fight down at the grocery store parking lot.

The broadcast day starts with Songbird Singalong. While Pipsqueak would love to catch that live, we’re generally still in bed so she has to settle for the audio version. Rockin’ Robin Digs for the Hits comes on later but it’s shot from a distance so not that engrossing. The soap opera Squirrels of Maple Tree Place airs several times a day. I’m never sure if I should let her watch it, though, as there’s sometimes bad language.

The pirate breaking-news show Intruder Alert, which follows strange cats as they prowl through the neighbourhood, is her can’t miss. She’s evidently signed up to get messages when it’s on because she’ll leap up from a sound sleep and go trotting purposefully to the porch. If she can’t find it there she makes the rounds of the other windows to see if it’s on an alternative channel.

Bunny Theatre pops up sometimes in the early morning or late afternoon and is a particular favourite of hers and ours, though since there’s no on-screen translation we’re not sure what it’s about. Personally, I think it’s interpretive dance. My husband thinks it's a rabbit version of Benny Hill.

Pipsqueak is convinced that the best programming is on late at night and is miffed that we won’t let her stay up to watch it. She’s sometimes very, very quiet when bedtime approaches, hoping we’ll forget she’s in the back porch and she can catch an episode of The Masked Bandit of Trashcan Alley.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Lazy Woman’s Perogies

 

This is absolutely the easiest way to prepare them. No tedious stirring, no sticking to the pot…

1 package frozen perogies, thawed
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a lasagna pan or similar casserole dish spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce over the bottom. Cover with perogies, adding a second layer if you still have some left. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over. Bake for 40 minutes.

You can serve with green onions, bacon, and sour cream if that’s the way you like them but they’re still delicious without.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Found and Tested: Panna Cotta

 

While browsing the Pretty . Simple . Sweet website for something else, I came across a recipe for Panna Cotta. That’s not a dessert I’m familiar with, but it sounded similar to custard, which I love, so I decided to give it a try.

It is SO much better than custard, and far easier to make. Since it was my first time making the recipe, I didn’t make any changes to it, other than substituting artificial vanilla extract for the real thing. I used an envelope of Knox’s gelatin powder, rather than measuring, as the box said it would set 2 cups of liquid, and it worked fine. I did decide to divide it into 6 servings rather than 4, given the high fat content of the cream.

This one’s definitely going in my recipe box. Only 5 ingredients, none of which are hard to find, and goes together, apart from setting time, in less than 15 minutes.

I think I’ll be trying a chocolate version to fill the roles of both custard and whipping cream the next time I make my chocolate trifle.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Bisquick Microwave Hot Breakfast Cereal

 

I was bored with all the breakfast choices in the house the other day and wondered what my favourite microwave mug cake would taste like minus the sugar and a few other tweaks. To my amazement, it came out like the best cream of wheat I’d ever tasted, and with an even better texture. Smooth, creamy, delicious, and made in under five minutes.

1/3 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil (no substitutions—this is the secret sauce that gives it that creamy, dreamy flavour)

Combine ingredients in a microwaveable bowl. Cook on high for 30 seconds and stir. Cook on high for another 2 minutes (microwaves may vary) or until it looks cooked. Sprinkle with sugar and pour milk over it.

Serves 1

You can find the original mug cake recipe here. I make it a lot, because it’s fast and delicious, though it reminds me more of pudding really than cake. I’ve made both the vanilla and the chocolate version and have even substituted peanut butter for the oil to make a peanut butter one.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Baked Apple Doughnuts

2 ¼ cups Bisquick
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
¼ cup oil (you can use melted margarine or butter)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In bowl or large measuring cup, combine Bisquick and cinnamon. Stir in applesauce, oil and egg until smooth.

Spoon into wells of silicon doughnut mould supported on a cookie sheet and smooth down with the back of a wet spoon.

Bake for 13 minutes. Cool before turning out.

Makes 14 2-3/4 inch diameter doughnuts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Baked Peanut Butter Doughnuts

 

I got some silicone doughnut moulds for Christmas, so of course, I’ve been experimenting ever since. These doughnuts come out with a light texture more like a yeast doughnut than a cake doughnut. While they’re perfectly good plain, you can also drizzle them with honey.

1 ½ cups Bisquick
2/3 cup peanut butter
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla or caramel extract

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place doughnut moulds on a cookie sheet for stability and ease of moving in and out of the oven.

Cream together Bisquick and peanut butter. Stir in milk and vanilla. With greased hands, fill the wells of the doughnut mould half-way. Smooth with back of wet spoon.

Bake for 12-13 minutes (may differ if using a metal pan so check frequently). Let cool 5 minutes before turning out.

Makes 10 2-3/4 inch diameter doughnuts.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Poetry for a Change of Pace

I’m not always under the cat or in the kitchen. Sometimes I write poetry or short stories instead of recipes. And sometimes it even gets published. Here’s a link to one of the poems from my book The Fickle Muse, Facebook Expectations, freshly published this morning on Your Daily Poem: http://www.yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=3961

Saturday, January 8, 2022

West Island Anglo Tortiere

This is most definitely NOT traditional, but it’s about to become so in this household. It’s easy and convenient, tasty, and can be made gluten free if desired.

Filling:

1 medium onion, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon beef bouillon powder
pinch cloves
3 hash brown patties, thawed and crumbled
black pepper to taste

Fry onion until soft in large frying pan. Put onion aside. In the same frying pan, cook the hamburger until no longer pink. Drain. Stir in bouillon powder and cloves. Add in onions and hash browns and pepper, if desired. Press into a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. If you’re not making this for immediate consumption, at this point you can put it, pie plate and all, into a large Ziploc™ bag and freeze it. Just remember to let it thaw before continuing.

Topping:

2 ¼ cups Bisquick™*
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large measuring cup or a bowl with a pour spout, whisk together Bisquick and milk. Spoon over top of beef filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is golden and a cake tester inserted into it comes out clean.

*for gluten free version, use the gluten free biscuit mix I talked about two posts ago.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Cider Bread

I’d like to give credit where credit is due, but I can’t find out who originated the recipe for beer bread that this is based on. There’s a Bisquick version and a self-rising flour version which are virtually identical, and even a version with regular flour and baking powder.

I was trying to make a gluten free bread so used the homemade gluten free biscuit mix I talked about in my last post. But while the loaf smelled great baking, and didn’t taste bad either, it crumbled when I tried to cut it. So I made a few changes and came up with a loaf that could at least be cut and toasted. It only makes a small loaf, so you can’t make sandwiches out of it, as it doesn’t rise as much as regular yeast bread.

27 ounces (3 cups plus 6 tablespoons) of your flour mix of choice (Bisquick, gluten free biscuit mix, Brodie’s…)
1 egg
12 ounces (1 ½ cups) cider

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease the bottom of a small loaf pan.

Whisk the ingredients together and spoon into the pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until it’s light brown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Found and Tested: Homemade Gluten Free Biscuit Mix, Gluten Free Molasses Cookies, Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Biscuit Mix

When I was drawing up my menus for the Christmas holidays, I was pleased to discover that gluten free Bisquick™ existed, since I figured I could just plug it into my favorite recipes and voila! Biscuit topping, quick bread, pancakes. Then I discovered my grocery store didn’t carry it. Back to the internet. I apparently could order it from Amazon but found out from the reviews that it could NOT, as I’d assumed, be substituted cup by cup for regular Bisquick™ as it doesn’t contain shortening. However, I found this recipe https://glutenfreebaking.com/homemade-gluten-free-bisquick-recipe which claimed that it could substitute cup for cup.

I figured it was worth a try. It was easy to make up and performed well in all four of the recipes I used it in. In fact, it worked so well I’m going to try to make a regular version of it as well, substituting wheat flour for the rice and tapioca and leaving out the xanthan gum.

Christmas Cookies

The Betty Crocker™ website https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/health-and-diet is a great source of recipes, both regular and gluten free. I made both their gluten free molasses cookies and their gluten free sugar cookies. The molasses cookies did have that starchy texture I associate with gluten free flour but came out nice and crisp and had excellent spicy flavour. Plus they were much easier to make than my regular ginger snap recipe so I may try them again. I did substitute margarine for the called-for shortening, which worked just fine.

The sugar cookies were a bit bland, but sugar cookies generally are. I think I might try almond extract rather than vanilla next time. The glaze did perk them up. I had a bit of trouble with cracking the first time I rolled out the dough. However, they rerolled very well. Do let them cool on the cookie sheet before trying to remove them because they are quite fragile while hot. Once cool, they’re fairly sturdy. Here again I substituted margarine for the called for butter, which probably accounted for the bland flavour and the trouble with the first rolling.