Bugbear: A fearsome imaginary creature, especially one evoked to frighten children. Yeah, I’d hate me too, but it seems fitting so we’ll go with that. I’m not one of those all that comfortable offering words of wisdom, partly because I don’t want to appear to be boasting of my brains like Baum’s scarecrow and like him my head might just be stuffed with straw, but there are occasions where I feel that maybe all I’ve been seen and done may be of benefit to the greater, maybe the minor, good, if only to myself in making extra use of all the effort spend on this journey. This is first and foremost a recipe blog, I’ve stuck to that fairly well on the whole, right? I like to think so, but there are times when I feel the need to throw in my two cents. Thankfully this is more of a positive post, a sort of benevolent Uncle, or hobo, however it is you see yours truly. What I want to talk about, type about?, is the fear that seems present in a lot of allergy, intolerance sufferers, I really need a composite term for all of us, Food Weirdos seems a little insulting, um, Us (Note the capital). That’ll do. It’s not just Us in the early stages, no, it goes all the way through the spectrum of experience and time. There’s a fear of baking, the idea that only huge corporations can make free-from food that won’t torment small children in the wee hours, breads that won’t steal your car or biscuits that won’t harbour you ill will.
Now I do understand this, baking can be daunting and free-from baking is still in its infancy in some regards so even the “experts” can be seen to struggle. Now I’m not offering a panacea, just a few words from someone, whom I like to think, knows a fair bit, mind you there’s still worlds to go before I could be said to be an expert of any sort. What I want to say is simply this: Don’t be afraid to try. You’re going to fail, a lot, more often than not really, heck, my bread can out wrong today, though it was due to a faulty and over filled tin, see that? I know why it went wrong. How? well because I screwed up a lot in the early stages and kept trying to figure out why. I know enough now to diagnose a botched recipe and more often than not avoid making a mistake in the first place. I’m no experienced baker either, I’ve only been at this a few years, before going GF I was only baking for about two years. Here’s one thing I learned that remains true for all baking: Every ingredient has a purpose, if you can learn how and why it works, by trial and observation, and sometimes eating it and going: “Ewwwww”, that’ll stand by you. It’s a matter of building up experience slowly, you’ll have to grind at it and keep slogging along until one day you finally understand it a bit more. But see here’s the problem, if you assume that you need set ingredients, pre-made blends (Though a great start and they are useful they don’t necessarily help you learn how to use ingredients and if like me you can’t eat them at some stage then you’ll flounder) and that store bought beats all then you will never learn, because you’re assuming you’re an idiot who needs to be led, you don’t. Trust me, I thought the same until I was tossed out on my lonesome and had no choice but to learn.
Of course the question then becomes why bother? Right? Because the food you’ll bake, maybe not right away, will taste better, be better and will be of a great benefit to you in the long run and this is a life time commitment. Age and illness will catch us all eventually. We’ve just gotta be prepared to throw a hard elbow and right for a better life. You can do this. Start small, take one recipe, learn it inside out. Take out ingredients, add them in, shrink it, double it, change it so much that it’s no longer what it once was and then move on to another and start the whole process again. Keeping moving forward, anyone has the time to do a little and I’m not getting into a debate about who can do what. Just know if you’re scared that that’s okay, you should be, this can be terrifying to people in the easiest situations, never-mind those who deal with multiple allergies and intolerances, not counting other problems, because there are always other problems, but it can be done. I’m still here, aren’t I? There are times I felt that I was sinking into the morass of these illnesses and I kept pulling myself out one recipe at a time, slowly building a place to stand and breathe. I can’t give you all the answers, heck, I can’t answer anything to help everyone, but I will tell you this: That bugbear can be beaten and conquered, all it takes is just one step and a willingness to never stop moving. We can, no, we will do this. Come on!
Now you’ll wonder if this is all hot-air, that it should be taken on faith. I’m not a big on on blind faith, but look around, there are over three hundred recipes when you count all the tweaks. Not only that, there are more to come, who knows when I’ll stop. I don’t plan on it any time soon. That’s it for me, just a ramble that may as clear as mud to anyone else reading it. It can’t hurt to put down one’s thoughts sometimes, right? Until the next recipe, take care of yourselves.