Sunday, December 11, 2016

Happy gluten-free holidays, part one.

It's beginning to look a lot like Yule here at La Casa Cantwell. Kitty and I picked up the tree today. It's a Fraser fir, between three and four feet tall. It's so short that our old tree stand would have gobbled up about a third of it, so I bought a new stand, too. The nice young man at the tree lot even put the tree in the stand for us. All we had to do when we got home was take it upstairs and set it on the coffee table.

The good thing about a little tree is that it takes no time at all to decorate; I even put on the lights by myself. The bad thing is when you realize you've collected enough ornaments over the years to decorate a ten-foot tree, but you only have a little tree to hang them on. A whole lot of ornaments got left in the box this year, but all of the most important ones made it on the tree -- including our 2016 dumpster fire.

I heard that: "You just need to set up another tree!" Feel free to come over to my apartment with that second tree and find a place to put it.

Anyway, the next step in the festivities (besides shopping and wrapping gifts and attending fun parties) is making cookies and other treats, which is what I'll be doing next weekend. I've always made cookies, but over the past few years, several folks I know have developed a sensitivity to gluten, including my daughter Amy. So these days, I include gluten-free treats in my repertoire.

Luckily, it's not difficult -- and it turns out I'd been making some anyway. Here's one that's always a hit, and it's really easy to make. The toughest part is paying for the pecan halves (they ain't as cheap as they used to be).

I got the recipe from the Washington Post in 2002. (Apologies if there's a paywall.) I've edited their recipe a little; for one thing, the original says to use a large bowl for the sugars and a medium-size bowl for the nuts and whipped egg white, which seems backward to me. Anyway, here you go. Enjoy.

Spiced Frosted Nuts

Butter or nonstick spray oil for the baking sheet
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound (about 4 1/4 cups) pecan or walnut halves (note: I always use pecans)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with butter or oil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugars and cinnamon until well blended. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white and salt until foamy. Add the nuts and toss until each nut is completely coated.

Add the sugar mixture to the nut mixture and stir until each nut is completely coated. Turn the nuts onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading to form an even layer. Bake the nuts, stirring well every 10 minutes, until crisp and dry, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir again and transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Pack in an airtight container. Store for up to a week at room temperature or for up to a month in the fridge.

This claims to make about 16 servings, but I find that highly suspect. You might want to double the recipe -- but if you do, use two baking sheets.

These moments of spicy-sweet, nutty blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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