Are you a fan of cooking?

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My daughter Ruthie recently decided to do an awards ceremony at home, where Marc and I were the recipients of numerous awards.  We took turns going up to receive our respective certificates, Marc for good homework, especially spellings and my proudest moment,  for being "A Fan of Cooking".  I thanked everyone in the audience, Lucia for her patience, Marc for his enthusiasm and Ruthie for inspiring me to cook gluten free food.  I've kept my certificate and in quiet moments I like to take it out of it's plastic wallet and have a proper look at it.  I will have it framed as it reminds me each day of how much I've learned and how much one's efforts in the kitchen are appreciated.  Making a delicious meal, sharing a recipe, teaching someone to make pastry are things we are all capable of doing.  And when you can make someone feel loved by making them a special dish, then it really does make the effort worthwhile. 

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For many people cooking is a chore and something which needs to be done rather than something which brings pleasure and enjoyment.  For some people cooking is nothing short of a traumatic experience.   Well, even experienced cooks have moments when everything goes pear shaped.  And like any bad experience the trick is to get right back on the horse and try again. Now, gluten free cooking and especially gluten free baking, can have it's share of really bad moments.  There was the time when I attempted to make gf gnocchi a potato based pasta.  The children were very excited at the thought of these little "pillows".  One bite was enough to put them off gnocchi for life.  They were soggy,dense and tasteless, nothing like those tender morsels we ate in an Umbrian farm house many moons ago.  The experience was so bad that I've not attempted them since.  Other disasters include breads made in a bread machine, choux pastry that was like glue and scones that were as hard and as tasteless as rocks.  Somehow I carried on, binning the bad stuff and sometimes eating the mistakes, so as not to feel so bad about wasting good ingredients.  Bread and pastry were no go areas for a long time.  The results were so awful that I felt I just couldn't face it.  Then about a year ago I started experimenting again, having read lots of articles and studied many gluten free bread recipes.  Expecting failure I was surprised how good the results were and how once you've mastered a few techniques  and understood the role of gluten in a recipe, the world can be your oyster.  Over several months I tinkered with the recipes, perfecting them and making them fool proof.  I now  teach these in my bread and pastry making workshops.  I feel proudest when I see my students wrapping up their goodies and feeling they've mastered a new skill, which will brighten their lives and the lives of the gluten free person in their family.  And this is really what being a fan of cooking is all about.  You cook, you experiment, you win some, you lose some, you share your knowledge and in the process, you sometimes make people very, very happy.  

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