According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population of the United States, has celiac disease. (Note: I was unable to calculate the number of people globally who suffer from this condition.) I must give tremendous credit to the NFCA for raising the awareness in my country of the connection between gluten and the disease, because these days if you live in America it would be virtually impossible to have not heard about the gluten-free movement. As with all such meteoric rises in knowledge about a condition and a food that exacerbates or ameliorates it, marketers have clamored to get in on the fad. I recently saw a bottle of Almond Milk touting “gluten free” as a benefit. Honestly, in this frenzy I wouldn’t be surprised to see a package of light bulbs sporting the same advantage.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for celiac disease sufferers that so many new products are available to enrich their lives. But, because a large number of the inevitable band wagon jumpers – most of whom, I hazard to guess, do not have the condition – have become very vocal about the need for everyone to live a gluten-free life, the entire movement has me shaking my head. Case in point. A buddy of mine told me that he was going to the Midwest for the holidays last year and his sister — who does not have a diagnosed case — had forewarned him that they were going to be celebrating a Gluten Free Christmas. We’ve jumped the shark here, my friends.
However, in the spirit of gluten-free camaraderie with those who have honestly been suffering with terrible food for years because of their disease, I am eager to share this recipe for a gluten-free cookie that would be welcome in any house, wheat allergies or not. I tasted one…ahem, okay, three…recently at an intimate concert during a visit to the Tallman Hotel in Lake County, California, which is about an hour north of Sonoma in beautiful wine country. The proprietors, Bernie and Lynn Butcher of San Francisco, pull out all the stops to make their gorgeous property the perfect retreat. General Manager, Susan Mesick, a Ketchum alum, graciously ensures each guest is treated like royalty. This gluten-free cookie is the ideal metaphor for the place: it’s a better take on a classic because it’s unexpectedly fantastic, it feels homey but sophisticated, and it’s good for the soul.
Tallman Hotel Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3 cups rolled oats
½ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup raisins or dried cherries
½ cup toasted walnuts or sunflower seeds (the cookies I tasted contained walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda; mix well. Add peanut butter and mix well. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, dried fruit, and nuts. Place teaspoons of the dough onto lightly greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.
P.S. It doesn’t hurt to eat these with a mug of steaming hot coffee while listening to acoustic folk music during the winter.