As I get older (or shall I say more experienced? seasoned? well preserved?) I seem to be enjoying experimenting with cooking a little bit more. While I can still be a little touchy when it’s not considered the most fabulous thing I’ve ever made, I am relaxing in this area a bit.  And this new cookbook I just finished reading (and experimenting with) only helped with my gluten-free test baking…. It is called  Gluten Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn.  It began as a blog– and now has evolved into a cookbook.  Don’t worry — blog’s still there– with a cute post Monday about her husband secretly loving Lemon Poppyseed muffins…but I digress..

Gluten Free on a Shoestring Tips

The cookbook starts out with hints and tips on how you can stretch your gluten free dollar with some wise shopping and a little planning (and maybe an afternoon set aside in your kitchen).  It offers good websites for coupons and other sites where you can get good deals.  One thing she recommends doing (that I don’t think I’ve ever done in my life) is “Piggyback” your Meals.  She says by doing this it “allows you to make the most of basic ingredients, which in turn allows you to buy loads of whatever happens to be in season and on sale at the market without allowing anything to go to waste.”  I wish I were better at this.

GF Bagels Made from Scratch: Recipe from Gluten Free On A Shoestring

The book created a vibe in me that said– “I can do this” (well maybe not the piggy backing thing)!  So with Hunn’s tips I found coupons on line for both gluten-free and other items (my new coupons.com toolbar is set up on my computer) and I’m working on cooking ahead.  But there’s much more to this book.  Including recipes….

Homemade Gluten Free Bagels

My goal was to make one of Emma’s faves:  bagels!  Hunn has a recipe for gluten-free bagels that didn’t seem out-of-this-world hard…and I set aside time on Sunday to make them.  Hunn’s recommendation is make them– to a point and freeze them.  Then you just grab and bake as needed. I chose to bake them all because I couldn’t stand the suspense.

The process took me about two hours from beginning to end.  Here was the end result of my first try– My husband said they weren’t too bad for a first try.  Emma thought they were fine (certainly good enough for me to go this way instead of store brands as much as I have).  Grace and I loved them. My only issue is that I should have let them rise just a touch longer.  But I was happy that the typical bagel texture was there — soft on the inside, harder on the outside.  All I needed was a little cream cheese and it was complete.

As long as they were done, I grabbed two and made some quick croutons with them (that worked well too) and we used them with our caesar salad last night.  And I didn’t feel guilty for cutting up an expensive store-bought gluten free bagel to make it happen. I was also very pleased  Monday when I reheated two of the bagels I froze the night before, they were just as moist as when they came out of the oven!  Better than store bought in that way too!

"Shoestring Savings" one of the fun parts of the cookbook

The other part I liked was the “Shoestring Savings” factoid they put at the end of most recipes.  In the case of my bagels if you did it the “Shoestring” way the cost was approximately $.44 a bagel.  If you just purchased them frozen, the price was 3 times that at $1.28 per bagel.  I am not sure I would give this book to a newly diagnosed person with celiac disease– for fear they would feel overwhelmed.  However, I think anyone who is interested in saving money and likes to cook (and has a freezer for storage), would like this book.

I recommend Gluten Free on a Shoestring.  The money you spend on the book will be saved by following Hunn’s great tips.

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