Wednesday, June 9, 2010

That's the way the cookie crumbles

Last night I attended the June meeting of the Celiac Support Group for the south suburbs. We meet once a month on a Tuesday to discuss events, food, products and issues related to eating and living gluten free.

Recently, the meetings have been held at varying locations. P.F. Chang's, OMG It's Gluten Free, and last night, Lil's Dietary Shop Lil's is in a plaza on 111th, west of Western Ave, in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood. Although a bit of a drive from my south suburban home, the trip was well worth the ride. Marcie, the owner, stocks an entire shop full of a large and diverse quantity of of gluten free products, as well as a new expansion which contains products for other special dietary needs. Between the gift bags which Marcie provided to everyone in attendance, the free raffle items, and those which I purchased, I went home with quite a haul.

At the end of the night, a theme seemed to have appeared. Cookies. One of the items in my gift bag was a box of peanut butter cookies by Tree of Life. Once home, I was talked into opening the box and trying one, by my peanut butter loving, wheat eating father. Weighing my opinion against other products I've tried, I reached into the package and pulled out two cookies. Dad and I each bit into one of the crisp cookies and savored the full, yet not overpowering, taste of peanut butter. These cookies do have a bit of what I refer to as the "gluten free grit," that somewhat grainy texture that can sometimes make you fell as if you've eaten a spoonful of sand, but with this type of cookie, it somehow doesn't detract from the experience. Perhaps the memory of Pecan Sandies aligned my brain to a positive association between grit and nut cookies, but for whatever reason, they worked.

During the meeting, Marcie provided us with some fantastic samples straight off the shelves. The group favorite, a coconut macaroon by Mrs. Crimble's, was indeed an AMAZING treat. So good in fact, that I had to buy some :) These smooth and chewy cookies have the strong flavor of toasted coconuts and dreamy chocolate of a certain type of cookies sold by young girls all across the country, but way, WAY better. Now the only problems is that, with only six in a package, I'm afraid if I open them, I'll eat them all!

Besides the peanut butter cookie, I also tried some cinnamon thins, which my parent's picked up at... (drumroll..) STARBUCK'S! For those of you unfamiliar with the plight of the Celiac at Starbuck's, let me fill you in. Last summer, only two month's after its introduction, Starbuck's removed from their shelves the one and only gluten free baked good, an orange cake which was supposed to have been delicious. I say "supposed to have been," because I never had the opportunity to try it. Problems with limited demand and short shelf life caused the company to abandon the idea rather than work out a solution. Personally, I would have frozen the cakes, put a note in the display case to say they were available, and served them warm from the microwave. Anyhow, back to the cookies. My beloved snickerdoodles need not be far from my taste memory with these on the market. Lucy's has managed to create a crisp but buttery cookie, without the gluten free grit, which taste so good, wheat eaters and gf diners alike will love them. Oh, and for those with additional dietary restrictions, Lucy's cookies are also milk, egg, peanut, and tree nut free as well as vegan!

All told, it was a good day for the discovery of quality premade cookies. Now, if I could just call up the courage to buy various flours and make my own...

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