Sunday, January 29, 2012


A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten. That means you won't be eating grains like wheat, barley, rye, etc. It's  recommended for people who suffer from celiac disease, wheat allergies, or certain skin ailments. However, many people—right or wrong—embrace this diet and insist that it makes them feel better. Gluten free is becoming stylish.

One of our best American poets, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), was the chief bread and dessert maker at her family home in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was quite accomplished. In fact, at age twenty, Emily won a prize for her Rye and Indian Bread at the town fair.

The Dickinson Homestead
When her literary mentor and friend, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, finally met the elusive poet face-to-face in April, 1870, among other things he remembered, "She told me of her household occupations, that she made all their bread, because her father liked only hers; then saying shyly, 'And people must have puddings,' this very timidly and suggestively, as if they were meteors or comets."

A wonderful, highly recommended little cookbook Emily Dickinson Profile of the Poet as Cook is offered for sale through the Emily Dickinson Museum. It contains many recipes that the poet used.

Here is Emily's recipe for Rice Cake. It uses rice flour, which is gluten free. According to the cookbook, "Rice cakes were usually saved to serve a guest who dropped in for tea."
Give this old-fashioned recipe a try, whether you are doing gluten free or not. They are quite tasty. Thank you, Emily!

Emily as a teenager
Rice Cakes (adapted from Emily Dickinson Profile of the Poet as Cook)
1 cup rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground Rice Flour)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk blended with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter (softened)
freshly ground nutmeg (I used about 1/4 teaspoon)

Preheat oven to  350 degrees.  Cream butter. In separate bowl beat eggs. Add sugar to eggs. Gently blend egg mixture with butter. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Bake in greased 9x9 pan until golden on top (around 15-20 minutes).

1 comment:

  1. A great followup to the "Emily Dickinson Profile of the Poet as Cook" is "Maid as Muse"by Aife Murray . where she reveals how Margaret Maher and the other servants influenced the cultural outlook, fashion, artistic subject, and even poetic style of Emily Dickinson. Wonderful insights to the day in and day out life of Emily Dickinson.