Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls. Photo by Jeanne Sauvage
Thanksgiving, routinely a flour-heavy culinary event, is my favorite holiday -- so you can imagine what a bummer it was to learn that gluten was a key factor in the health problems I'd been battling for many years. While I was relieved to find the culprit in my health drama, I have to say that a lifetime of Thanksgivings sans pie, stuffing and dinner rolls made for a grim holiday season indeed.
I'm never one to back down from a challenge. Slowly, as I learned to bake using a completely new set of rules, I discovered that gluten-free baked goods can rival their wheaty counterparts. I learned how to make a gluten-free version of Thanksgiving stuffing, a fantastic butternut squash pie, and everything else that a normal person would sit down to enjoy with their loved ones. Sure, at first my family balked at my "weird" cornbread, but once they came around, they discovered that what I was making tasted good. Actually, I'd venture to say that my from-scratch versions tasted better than a lot of the prefab, processed stuff that my family normally layed out on the table during the holidays. But that's another post.
Somewhere out there, I know there's a person who's just gotten a diagnosis of celiac disease, or maybe someone they love has gotten the diagnosis. Either way, they're suddenly in a similar position as I was all those years ago, wondering what the hell to make for Thanksgiving dinner when you can't use white flour. Well, guess what? You're in luck! These days gluten-free resources are ripe for the picking, unlike a decade ago when they'd look at you funny if you walked into the grocery store and asked for brown rice flour and xanthan gum. Now, gluten-free blogs abound and bookstores have entire shelves dedicated to gluten-free cooking. To say we live in a time of gluten free bounty would be an understatement.
So what did I miss most about Thanksgiving once I learned I was gluten intolerant? What was the first thing I just had to recreate so that I could enjoy this holiday like a normal person? You might laugh at the simplicity of my needs, but I'll share anyways: it was the humble dinner roll. More than anything, I wanted a soft, warm roll that I could spread with a swath of sweet cream butter and soak up the pools of meaty gravy on my plate.