Introducing Christy-Made, a New (Allergy-Friendly, Vegan, Gluten-Free) Baked Good Catering Service

It’s really hard to find quality baked goods that meet all of your allergy needs and still taste like baked goods. For instance, I can have gluten but I can’t have nuts, and you’d be hard pressed to find a bakery that’s nut free but not gluten free or vegan or both. Like, maybe I want an egg and butter filled brownie made of wheat that just doesn’t have traces of nuts. And is baked by someone competent who I can literally trust with my life.

Enter Christy-Made. Christy is an incredible baker (though, moment of truth, her baked goods aren’t kosher so I’m going based on smell and heresay from dozens and dozens of people who I’ve witnessed eat her baked goods) who just started a new catering business where she handmakes baked goods for any occasion and delivers them straight to your home or office or wherever! While her baked goods aren’t necessary specialty (meaning gluten-free, vegan, allergy-friendly, etc.) they can be. She’s really knowledgeable about food allergies and intolerances, and she’s very eco-conscious, too — all the ingredients are local and organic.

Christy was instrumental in helping me understand my bevy of new allergies back in March. Even though she is not an allergy sufferer herself, she knows how to adjust and tweak her recipes to cater to people with special dietary restrictions. She walked me through baking once gluten, eggs, dairy, and xanthan gum were all out of the question. So if you’ve liked my pumpkin oat muffins or anything in that variety, know that I built those recipes using tips and tricks and inspiration from Christy. She helped me figure out foods I could use to replace old staples in my diet, and taught me how to tweak old recipes. So while I haven’t had the joy of actually eating her food, because technically her kitchen/equipment isn’t up to my standards of kosher, I know it’s good, and I know it’s made with care.

So check out Christy-Made. And next time you’re in LA and need a nice dessert, call on Christy. Whether or not you need her to go the extra mile and adjust the recipe to your restricted diet

Emmys! (and some hives)

It’s the superbowl of TV…the Emmy Awards! Only, there’s no typical food for this major American holiday, which is a shame. It’s my turn to host the Emmy’s “party” this year (read: a few friends in sweatpants sitting on a couch watching the show), and I decided to cook what will maybe become an Emmy’s staple menu.

Main Dish:

Homemade pizza — for recipe, see here.

Side:

Fried zucchini — essentially, zucchinni fried with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Dessert:

Strawberry chocolate oat muffins – a twist on my pumpkin oat muffins (vegan! gluten free! nut-free! woo-hoo!) only with pureed strawberry and some chocolate powder instead of pumpkin…or cherries

It all would have been an absolutely SUPERB dinner to accompany a really incredible Emmy show (Homeland! Homeland! Homeland!) but I erupted into hives for a reason I simply can’t understand.

Or maybe I can understand it. Last Monday, on the second night of Rosh Hashana, we had the traditional new fruits to make a blessing for the new year. I am allergic to most fruits, certainly exotic fruits, so I didn’t eat them. No one anticipated an airborne reaction, because there was no horseradish involved. And yet, I broke out into hives for a few days following that meal. My guess right now is that I had an apple that was right next to the fruits, and as with the horseradish incident of Passover, I think the apple absorbed some of the other fruits’ essences. Apples are pretty absorbent — they’re known to absorb most of the pesticides sprayed on them, for instance — and since I had definitely not overdosed on apples and that’s what I was eating when the hives began, I can only imagine they are the culprit. It’s been under a week, and I haven’t been strict about my Benadryl usage, but these sorts of hives can reappear for days. So I’m betting it’s that. Or I overdosed on wheat, with it being in the pizza, and having challah pretty regularly as part of all the ritual meals. Not that I’ve been eating a ton of challah, but I’ve had less wheat over more time than in most weeks (most weeks I eat wheat only on the weekends, in huge amounts. This week, I’ve had bread at many meals, but in small amounts).

Either way, my traditional Emmys meal was slightly marred, but very delicious, so here’s to hoping that next year:

a) I’m closer to winning an Emmy

b) my allergies are in check enough to eat the above foods totally 100% safely

Why Aren’t More Gluten-Free Products Nut-Free?

I’m not a marketing guru, or even a product development guru. I did a pretty mediocre job in AP Economics in high school (though, in my defense, my class was before 8am, I had zero friends in it, and the teacher used to say “thousand” like “thousthand” which was distracting. And he only spoke in terms of the supply and demand of apples, which always got me thinking about other foods, other possibilities, and why he couldn’t be more creative).

The point is, I don’t know very much about targeting a consumer base, but I do know this:

It makes no sense for the only gluten-free oat flour and gluten-free oats available in LA to contain traces of tree nuts.

The backstory:

I’m invited to attend a Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house. Said friend asks if I can bring dessert. I say sure, because I make killer pumpkin oat muffins. Turns out another friend, with a wheat allergy and celiac is attending the meal as well.

“Great,” I think. “She can never eat dessert, but since oats don’t have gluten, and I only bake with oats, I can give her a treat. How wonderful for us all.” (Sometimes, I think like an old woman who might think she’s in a terrible rendition of “The Importance of Being Earnest.”)

So I ask my gluten-free friend which oats to buy, because I know some oats contain traces of gluten (would it kill them to put it on the package though? #complaintsforanother time #thisisn’ttwitterwhyamipretendingitis?

She tells me Bob’s Red Mill is the only brand, and maybe something “Valley” but that’s harder to find. Bob’s it is!

So I go to Whole Foods, where said flour and oats presumable are stocked, and I can’t find any that say Gluten Free. Awkward. But I pick up the regular Bob’s and it’s manufactured in a facility that also processes tree nuts and soy. I get it. Because they make like almond flour or whatever. But it seems silly that they can’t take more precautions to ensure lack of cross-contamination, like a different floor in the facility or a neighboring one, or something. Anyway, I look for gluten-free oats – just rolled oats – thinking I can adapt my baking to use no flour, or just make flour from my oats in my food processor (I have gotten creative, crazy, and ballsy). But every single gluten-free rolled oats was connected to tree nuts in some way. And every non-gluten free oat? Not connected to tree nuts.

Notice the allergen information.

You’d think a company that fills such a niche need would a) want to make sure they cover the entire niche, ie gluten free people with nut or soy allergies or sensitivities and b) want to cover multiple niches to expand their market base (ie tap into the people who need nut-free flour and the people who need gluten-free flour.

But alas. We don’t live in that world, yet. So even though I can only bake with oats, I still can’t bake for someone who can’t have gluten, because my oats are glutenous. That is beyond lame.

It also begs a question I’ve been thinking for a while — can’t all products with nuts just be manufactured in a facility that processes nuts, and all products that don’t have nuts be manufactured elsewhere? Like a nut factory that all the food companies share so that the nut-free population can eat foods that don’t have nuts themselves and no longer have traces of nuts? There are just so many random products that may contain nuts or are processed with nuts (salsa, for instance, WHY?), and it seems silly. I wonder how much nut isolation would increase sales, compared with the costs associated with a nut factory.

I’m half kidding.

Any donors?

(ps I love Bob’s Red Mill, as they introduced me to teff and anasazi beans, two of my favorite new foods. So no hard feelings, Bob.)

Cherry/Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins – Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Potentially Egg Free

I got a little bored of my pumpkin muffins, and after a friend (who happens to be a pastry chef) made a delicious strawberry merengue dessert for me a few weeks ago, I’ve decided to experiment with strawberries. Especially now that I am definitively not allergic to them.

This recipe is so easy and I made it up so feel free to tweak it as you wish…I wound up with about 10 muffins. Play with proportions for more.

1 cup oat flour

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

2 egg whites (or 1 egg, or apple sauce or egg subsitute)

1 cup sugar

1ish tbsps brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

a drizzle of oil

5-6 strawberries

10ish cherries

Preheat the oven to 400. Puree the strawberries and cherries in a blender. I didn’t de-pit the cherries, so I spit the pits out of the muffins which I’m ok with, but I guess you can de-pit them or buy pitted cherries if spitting bothers you. Mix the dry ingredients, eggs, and oil in a separate bowl. Add the cherry/strawberry puree. Mix well. Pour into a greased muffin cupcake tin.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Enjoy.