I am a BAD blogger. No, not scary, bad-to-the-bone nasty. Just missing in action bad. It has been over two months since my last post. Even I was shocked when I realised that.

Now there are two good reasons and one basic fact behind this failure. Let’s get the fact out of the road. I am inherently lazy. Despite the fact that I run and ride and swim and do all that physical stuff, a very large part of me likes nothing better than to sit down with a good book.

The two good reasons, thankfully, don’t reflect quite so badly on my character. The first is that about six weeks ago, I started a new job. It is a fabulous, wonderful job that I am thoroughly enjoying – but it was been keeping me a tad busy. And the second reason is that it is hard to post about the wonderful things you’ve been baking when most of what you are baking would be filed under B for Bland.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but for most of this year I’ve been a restricted diet. I seem to have some sort of food intolerance and in order to figure out what it is, everything that could be a culprit comes out of the diet. Then one by one, the possible offenders are brought back into what I eat, to see what causes a reaction.  I started out months ago on a moderate form of the elimination diet. ( This is a diet developed by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; there is also a mountain of useful information available at the Food Intolerance Network website. ) But it clearly wasn’t eliminating the problem food group, so now I’m on the strict version. I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, additive-free, coloring-free, preservative-free, benzoate-free, glutamate-free… almost flavor-free! Fruit is restricted to only peeled pears. My exciting roster of vegetables stretches to leeks, chokos, celery, potatoes, green beans, cabbage and a couple of other not-that-flavorsome items. Garlic, saffron and salt are the only flavorings allowed. No other herbs, no spices.

Are you actually heading towards a recipe here, you’re probably asking? Yes.

This morning I had a craving for peanut butter cookies. Peanut butter is out. So is butter, in fact. But home-made cashew butter is fine, and so are various sorts of gluten-free flour. And so this morning’s “whip up a batch of bikkies” experiment produced these gluten-free, dairy-free cookies. They are a almost like a shortbread, but with a subtle nuttiness and a slightly less “short” texture. I think next time I’ll try making them a little flatter and sandwiching them together with icing, just to add a little more flavor.

Simple sugar cookies

115g dairy-free margerine (e.g. Nuttlex)

65g brown sugar

150g cashew butter (see Note)

1 egg

150g brown rice flour

65g glutinous rice flour (see Note)

granulated sugar, for finishing

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Line two baking trays with silicon sheets or baking paper.

Cream margarine and sugar thoroughly, then beat in egg and cashew butter. Beat in flour. The mixture will be quite soft – you may need to add a little more flour to get the right texture, depending on the consistency of the nut butter and the size of the egg. You want a dough that is soft, but not actually sticky – you should just be able to roll into into a ball.

Place about 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Takes spoonfuls of the dough and use your hands to roll into balls approximately 2 cm in diameter. Roll in sugar (gently, to keep the ball shape). Place on a lined baking tray.  When all the dough is shaped, use a fork to flatten each biscuit a little.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotating trays during cooking if necessary to ensure even cooking. Cool on tray for a few minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely. (Actually, if you are like me, there’s no way they are all cooling completely before being sampled. Warm bikkies fresh from the oven are just too good.)

NOTE: I used home-made cashew butter. I make it by whizzing up raw cashews then adding some salt and enough oil to bring it together. There are commercial cashew pastes that use roasted cashews – not allowed on the elimination diet but absolutely fine for anyone else. You could really substitute any nut butter in this recipe, though. Glutinous rice flour is, despite the name, gluten-free. It can be found at Asian grocers and some supermarkets.

OK, that’s it for now. I am off to read a book!

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