The Heart of a Mother: A Special Guest Post
I am so honored and grateful to have another very special guest blogger post on the website today. My sweet friend Kate is not only one of the best bakers I know, but she's been such a bright spot and source of encouragement for my family during our food allergy journey. One of my family's favorite traditions of the season is an annual dinner that we have with a group of friends and neighbors, including Kate's family, and this year she went out of her way to make dessert fun and SAFE for my boys. She is the perfect person to write about how she has modified her passion for baking, not just for my children but other friends with food allergies, as well. Thank you, Kate, for your beautiful heart... and for showing moms just like you - who love to bake but don't have food allergies in their house - how fun it is to experiment with allergy-safe baking!
My first experience with allergy safe baking was at my son's preschool end of year party. His class was the "busy bees" and a good buddy and classmate of his had an egg allergy. I was room mom that year and wanted to make a special cake for the class to celebrate. I asked his mom, who was also a teacher at the preschool, about safe ingredients. She was so shocked that I was willing to make something her son could enjoy! At the same time, I was shocked! How could I NOT? I made a "bee hive" themed cake with a special Oreo cookie as the entrance to the hive. It was a big hit and my heart was happy that everyone could enjoy it.
I have a pretty soft heart when it comes to motherhood. The best way someone can show they care for me is to show they care for my children. When my dear friend Tracie's sons' allergies became known, I thought often about the worries she must face. We have chatted at play dates and the pool, sharing recipes and ideas of safe and healthy swaps for ingredients. As her sons went off to school, friends' houses and parties, I watched as she would trust their care to others. I watched as she would bring a special cupcake to birthday and holiday parties, meet with the school nurse, and always find a way to ensure her children enjoyed treats just like all the other children, as only a mother would.
My love of baking has grown over many years. People have asked if I ever thought about turning my passion for baking into a business. As much as I enjoy it, it's the family and friends I get to bake for that inspire me to do it. Baking comes from my heart and the true pleasure is in sharing it with those that I love. So when an allergy comes into play, I want to be sure that everyone can enjoy my treats. When I found an allergy safe recipe for gingerbread cookies, it looked perfect for our annual holiday party. A few texts of ingredient labels and double checking was not a problem for me. When baking comes from the heart it is never too much trouble. I see Tracie's sons with the eyes of a mother, I never want them to feel left out. I see Tracie with the heart of a mother, I want her to enjoy special gatherings with less worry and more time to catch up with special friends.
Dairy, Egg & Nut-Free Gingerbread Cookies (original recipe from Speedbump Kitchen - click here for link!)
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup shortening
¾ cup molasses
2 tablespoons dairy-free milk (Kate used Silk Pure Coconut, unsweetened)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a standing or hand mixer, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and spices. Add shortening and continue to mix thoroughly. In a measuring cup or separate small bowl, mix the molasses and dairy-free milk together and then slowly pour the milk mixture into the dough mixture and combine until well incorporated. Remove dough from mixing bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and set in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or as long as two days).
When ready to make cookies, roll out dough and cut into your favorite shapes. Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 (Kate likes softer cookies, so she baked hers for only about 8 minutes).
Let the cookies cool before decorating and enjoy!
*Kate used Betty Crocker cookie icing and sprinkles. Click here for allergen statement for these products.