baking california gluten-free recipe sweets

Into 2015 (+ gluten-free Sugar Stars)

6 January 2015


[The Pacific from the blowhole, Point Reyes National Seashore 2015.]

Happy new year! I hope your holidays were merry and bright and full of delicious bites and warming drinks. We were asleep by 9:30 on new year’s eve – welcome to parenthood of a young child – but up early on the first day of 2015 with plans for a hike in the Point Reyes Seashore. I made cheese and avocado sandwiches, tucked a bar of good dark chocolate into the backpack along with a few mandarin oranges, filled the water bottles, and left Sierra with her grandparents while we drove through the sun along Tomales Bay. Highway 1 was mostly empty except for a few intrepid bikers here and there and our Hardcore espressos fueled us along the trail for 4+ miles out and back. It was warm and clear at the coast and the Farrallons seemed close enough to touch. Mostly what I think when I am here (and what I always did think) was California, you are so good to us. And, thank you.

Gratitude is a worthy emotion to clasp no matter the day but particularly on the first of a shiny new year it’s one to hold tight. I’ve been sorely neglecting it of late and I hope if it’s not my word of intention for 2015 at least to find more peace with it in these coming months.

My state, the golden state, has been burnished and bright with sun for the past few weeks and we’ve taken full advantage. Just after Christmas we spent a few days up north on the coast at Sea Ranch where we drank loads of coffee and cuddles a wee sick girlie while looking out at the Pacific. The quiet, the deep blue of the ocean, the space and emptiness were like a balm. I feel my inspiration seeping back with every trip to the redwoods, every back roads run, every walk along a wide and empty beach. I want to save it up for when I go back to North Africa; alas, I’ve learned during this past year it just doesn’t work that way. So I try to appreciate the time we have left here and will plan a trip home again soon. All the yoga classes I’ve taken have taught me to be in the moment and, well, that’s another one of those tricky emotions I hope to catch hold of more this year.

Unsurprisingly we’ve eaten very well in and out of my parents’ house (the burrito consumption has gotten wayyyy out of hand and I’m not sorry. Plus the coffee. Damn have I missed really good coffee.). I’m rather pleased to say that while I’ve done a bit of baking it hasn’t gotten too out of hand. I will share a recipe for some killer – and simple – vegan chocolate chip cookies very soon but before then I want to post a recipe for the flourless/gluten-free sugar cookies I made on Christmas eve with Emily. Though we had plenty of treats in the house I was admittedly obsessed with the idea of making a plate of (gluten-free) Christmas cookies. So we did. We made the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies from flourless., a batch of vegan gingery thins, and two baking sheets-worth of lightly spiced sugar stars. I adapted the recipe from my standby Fannie Farmer cookbook which rarely fails to deliver reliable baked goods recipes.

I swapped the all purpose flour for a basic mix of oat flour and white rice flour. We decided to take Fannie’s suggestion to add a few holiday spices and sliced almonds and then at the end! a bit of mandarin zest since there’s been a pile of them on the counter almost since we arrived and we eat them like candy around here. The cookies are lightly sweet and not at all crumbly and hold up impeccably as part of a cookie plate or simply with afternoon tea. If I weren’t finally veering back into salt tooth territory after over a year of choosing sweets over savory I’d probably bake more cookies as soon as I hit ‘post’. As it is this one is definitely going in my holiday cookie arsenal for next year and beyond.

Wishing you peaceful and cozy and sunny days ahead.

  • Donna Martinez 8 January 2015 at 12:50 pm

    What a delightful discovery! Love your blog and especially the recipes. We too love to recharge our soul by going back home, for us- to Sea Ranch,CA (like you I’m a reluctant expat too.). Can’t wait to put some of your recipes to use. My daughter is GF- can’t wait to share this discover with her.

  • Breanna 7 January 2015 at 8:56 am

    Well, that sounds a lovely first day of 2015!

  • helen 6 January 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Lovely post and photos….and happy 2015 to the little family!