Status of our gluten-free kitchen

January 24, 2009

This weekend, I’ll be baking some bread.  But not just any bread.  It’ll be a loaf of gluten-free bread.

Ray has celiac disease.  And since that diagnosis five years ago, our lives have adjusted to a new routine.  Grocery shopping requires more time to read labels because products in the United States aren’t required to state clearly whether or not they’re gluten-free.   A variety of ingredients and flavor additives are often derived from gluten sources (wheat, rye and barley).

So it’s not enough, for instance, to see the words  “modified food starch” in the ingredient list.  I need to know what kind of modified food starch.  Some food starches have gluten, some don’t.   If the label is unclear, I might avoid the product.  But if I really want it, I might call the consumer information number on the label to verify ingredients.  Often the person on the other end doesn’t just want to give me info.  That person wants marketing information about me.   After going through their gauntlet of questions, sometimes I tell them, “If you’d just put ‘modified corn starch’ on the label, I wouldn’t have to call you.”

We’ve designated a slot in our toaster only for gluten-free bread.  We maintain two sets of margarine so that gluten crumbs don’t accidentally get spread onto gluten-free bread.

Spaghetti night means two pots of spaghetti — one regular, one gluten-free.   Pizza night is the same.  But we’re lucky.  A local restaurant (Amici’s in Berkley) prepares gluten-free pizza.  So Ray orders two sets of pizzas and makes two pick-ups.

For family celebrations, I bake a gluten-free cake instead of relying on the usual line of cake mixes.  Those familiar with GF products know the names of Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill, Namaste, Glutino and Gluten-Free Pantry just as well as others know the name of Duncan Hines, Pillsbury and Betty Crocker.   Some GF brands have an excellent taste.

But items with GF grain usually cost three times more than gluten products.

When Ray was first diagnosed, I started baking our own loaves of GF bread.  But gluten-free products pose more of a challenge to prepare than gluten products because the dough is stickier.

So when a friend told me about a local bakery (Sugar Kisses) that makes wonderful gluten-free bread, we couldn’t wait to try it.   Every week or so for the past five years, I’ve visited Sugar Kisses to buy bread for Ray.

Last fall, Sugar Kisses’ landlord decided to find another use for the property and didn’t renew the bakery lease.  So the owners searched for a new spot to relocate.  Luckily, the bakery found a spot nearby, also in Berkley (like Amici’s).  Until Sugar Kisses gets resettled, we’ll either have to buy commercial GF bread — which is much denser and not as tasty — or we’ll bake our own.

So that’s why I’ll be heating up my oven this weekend — and waiting with bated breath for the day that Sugar Kisses reopens.

— CH



  1. You and Ray are not alone in your (forced) creativity and flexibility in adapting to a gluten-free lifestyle, but it impresses me nonetheless. Enjoy the grand-reopening of Sugar Kisses when it takes place!

  2. Cindy, I wasn’t much aware of the gluten issue until you began writing about it. Thanks for sharing the information. I am starting to become more aware of this, and noticed gluten-free products (and a publication on this) at Whole Foods Market yesterday. Good luck with your baking!

  3. I, too, am glad you shared this information. This sounds like a challenge, but you’ve found a great reason to make homemade bread. Is there anything better tasting on a winter day? Hope your bakery is open again soon.

  4. Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

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