birthday cake by Lindsey S. Love

A Late-Summer Birthday Cake (Recipe by Lindsey S. Love & Image by Penwhisk)

Last night when the smells from my kitchen lulled me to sleep, I felt sweetly content: I had finally managed to bake the Chocolate Banana Loaf from Lindsey S. Love’s fine Chickpea Flour Does It All.  The recipes in this fresh-ingredients cookbook are gluten- and dairy-free.  Fortunately, none of my loved ones are gluten intolerant.  However, we all feel nurtured and nourished when eating Lindsey S. Love’s food.  My family regularly feasts on dishes using her delectable recipes.  The Moroccan-Spiced Lentil Burgers, Mung Bean Pancakes and Caraway Spätzle are steady favorites of ours.

I’ve been impressed by the amount of ingenuity, imagination and effort that Lindsey S. Love has invested in every single dish in her cookbook.  The taste of foodstuffs with rice flour would usually leave you longing for the “real thing.” However, Lindsey S. Love skillfully combines chickpea, oat and sorghum flours with lime and orange zest, coconut sugar and spices to arrive at deeply satisfying results.  Personally, I find the taste of these gluten-free flours somehow deeper and more nuanced than that of regular white flour.

The first bite of Lindsey S. Love’s Chocolate Banana Loaf proved this treat to be addictive.  However, serving it to a newly acquired friend with whom I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on certain matters made this loaf especially gratifying to me.  During my short acquaintance with Julie, major differences in our attitudes to feeding our families and raising our children have become apparent to us.  She raises her eyebrows at my decision to ban candy bars and salty, fatty treats from my children’s diet.  I suspect that my insistence on preparing everything from scratch appears pedantic to her. My determination to avoid produce that has been treated with pesticides is wildly extravagant in her eyes.  For Julie, food should be something straightforward, while I turn it into something monstrously complicated.  For me, monsters hide only in cupboards where they can feast on sugary, fatty and hard to digest treats.

One would think that because of our disagreements, Julie and I couldn’t enjoy being friends.  Our children are best playmates though.  While they are setting up house and playing cooks and bakers, she and I strive to put our differences aside in a ritual that helps us connect.  During play dates, we chat over a cup of freshly brewed tea and home-baked goods.  At Julie’s house, I don’t flinch from her cakes of white flour, plenty of butter, refined sugar and conventional berries.  I remind myself that she has prepared these for her own children with care and love.  Indeed, they taste good.

At my house, I serve Lindsey S. Love’s baked goods: Morning Glory Loaf, Pomegranate Muffins, Blackberry Cobbler, Blueberry Coffee Cake and yesterday, the Chocolate Banana Loaf.  Sometimes I feel like the baking is too much for me.  However, I cannot afford to fall behind.  It is as if for every white flour cake Julie bakes, I need to bring another wholesome alternative into the world.  Julie politely eats my gluten- and diary-free treats, maybe because she has a hunch that at her house I am both eating and praising her baked goods against my own convictions.  She usually smiles gracefully and sneaks a quick remark into our conversation: An interesting flavor or Anything freshly baked tastes good.  I nurse a delicate hope that after sampling the wide gamut of flavors in Lindsey S. Love’s cookbook, Julie might consider other alternatives to the processed ingredients in her family’s diet.

Imagine my surprise when upon trying Lindsey S. Love’s Chocolate Banana Loaf, Julie stops mid-sentence and looks at me: Wow! I’ve never tasted anything like this before … this brings chocolate to another level.   Her remark comes like a bolt from the blue.  Did I hear right?  Could it be that we are on the way to reconciling our conflicting views on food?  Is it that she is getting interested in the alternative ingredients I fondly use?

Having been served something that she considers tasty rather than just safe to eat, Julie suddenly gains confidence to speak of the other contentious issue between us, upbringing: Can you imagine there are some parents who purposefully raise their children to be self-centered?  They believe that otherwise people would take advantage of them.  I look her in the eye and smile in agreement at her.  Ultimately, there is no satisfaction to be gained from a life that one leads solely for one’s own sake.  At the end of the day, if we want our children to be happy and content, we would have to teach them to be nurturing and caring towards other people.

This is what Lindsey S. Love’s Chickpea Flour Does It All cookbook has done for me.  It has helped me cook and share with family and friends food that I consider to be beneficial to them.  Sometimes, they even enjoy eating it.

And you can find Lindsey S. Love’s food blog with even more wholesome recipes here.