As you probably know by now, Carol Fenster has a new book out (2 Aug 07) called Gluten Free Quick and Easy (aff).

A number of bloggers have been commenting on it already, and I thought I’d give you my first impressions. I have been trying out some of the recipes, and I’ll comment on these in my next post.

My first impressions of this book are good, though I do like to see photos of the finished item – there are no photos at all in this book other than those on the cover.

I really like the way Carol uses language carefully to describe her gluten free lifestyle … she says she refers to her diet as ‘tailored’ or ‘customised’, rather than ‘restricted’ or ‘limited’. We’ve always talked to my daughter about her ‘special’ tummy, rather than apply negative words to the situation, so I’m going to try to use this terminology myself to talk about the diet in future.

I also like her suggested system of ‘planned-overs’, where you prepare extra and freeze it for future use (see? careful use of language again …). Yes, I expect experienced cooks do this a lot. I always seem to end up with ‘leftovers’ – tiny portions of this and that which don’t really fit into any future meal other than (occasionally) soup, and that’s because I haven’t planned it in advance.

There are also some invaluable tips for making herb and spice blends (so that’s Christmas sorted), and tips scattered throughout the book. Carol clearly spends a lot of time in her kitchen, and is very knowledgeable.

And, at the beginning, there is a section full of sensible information for people new to the gluten free life on how to get started – and at the end, a section on useful websites and resources, and where to find gluten free ingredients and products, though these are all based in America. Perhaps, since the book is available at, there should be a UK version?

Carol’s system for baking uses a basic blend of flours, to which are added different things for different purposes. So, she has a basic Flour Blend, and adds other items to get a yeast bread mix, or a cookie mix, or a cake mix, or a muffin mix, or a pancake mix … This is an entirely new way of collating ingredients for me, and I would have appreciated having all the mix recipes in one place in the book for ease of reference (as well as where they are currently located) – just a suggestion for when this book gets republished, as I expect it will.

Now, creating the Flour Blend itself proved to be a bit of a challenge, as sorghum flour isn’t readily available here in the UK – or at least, I struggled to find any. I eventually tracked some down at the Asian Cookshop, which has a wide range of flours, but not tapioca flour or potato starch, which I found at Dietary Needs Direct, which has an extraordinary range of flours – but not sorghum.

I’m sure that once you got the hang of creating the mixes, this system would get quicker and easier. More on how well I found the Flour Blend to work tomorrow …