Hello! Welcome to The Gluten Free Style! My name is Kim Rozsa. I am the mother of two amazing daughters. My oldest daughter, Kacie, has celiac disease, my youngest does not.
My youngest, however, is allergic to celery, carrots, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy, and has recently been diagnosed with Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)! I never thought I’d say it, but gluten-free is a breeze compared to all of that.
As you can imagine, dinner time is a lot of fun in our house!
In 1997, I was introduced to the words “celiac disease” and “gluten-free” for the first time, and my life has never been the same.
In 1997, my daughter Kacie was two and a half years old. Her health began rapidly declining, and my once thriving toddler who was at the top of the growth charts, was beginning to fall to the bottom of the charts.
She was having continuous stomach problems, similar to food poisoning, and her doctor could not figure out what was causing her illness. Her weight dropped to 18 pounds and panic set in.
After months of doctor’s visits and countless tests, the diagnosis of celiac disease was made. After switching to a gluten-free diet, Kacie’s health improved rapidly, and our lives were forever changed.
At this time, celiac disease was considered extremely rare and gluten-free foods were almost non-existent. Health food stores were the only places that stocked gluten-free foods on their shelves and the pickings were slim.
The few gluten-free items that were available on store shelves, tasted and felt like Styrofoam. Gluten-free flour mixes did not exist yet, which really made things difficult for people on a gluten-free diet.
Ordering gluten-free foods online wasn’t as easy as it is today either. For reference, Google was founded in 1998, a year after my daughter’s diagnosis.
So yes, the internet existed, but you couldn’t Google “gluten-free bread” and view 401,000,000 results like you can today.
You had to know the name and brand of the food you wanted and you had to order each item straight from the manufacturer, which was difficult and expensive.
Believe it or not, Styrofoam flavored crackers do not make a good substitution for Goldfish crackers. It was heartbreaking constantly telling my two-year-old that she could not have bread, crackers, cookies or cakes, because there were very few edible substitutions.
The lack of enjoyable gluten-free options really only left one choice, make it yourself. I became a frequent visitor at my local Asian market where I could always find brown and white rice flour.
This Asian market is where I learned that “glutinous rice flour” did not contain the poisonous wheat “gluten” that I had come to despise, but contained sticky, sweet properties that transformed my gluten-free foods.
Saturdays and Sundays became my baking days, where I spent hours experimenting with flours and attempting to convert traditional recipes to gluten-free recipes. I couldn’t begin to guess how many failures I had in the kitchen my first year.
Eventually, my failures turned to success. I was making delicious bread and gluten-free copy-cat recipes for everything from Cheez-Its to Twinkies!
When you have celiac disease, often times your life revolves around food. Dinners out, birthday parties, and sleepovers simply cannot happen on a whim. Preparation must go in to every activity that involves food.
We never left home without Kacie’s lunch box filled with gluten-free foods. This just became our way of life. Every birthday party for us was BYOC – bring your own cupcake. I did my best to convince Kacie that she was lucky because all of her cookies and cupcakes were freshly baked, but she wasn’t buying it.
I was the “room mom” and “party patrol” for Kacie’s class at school from kindergarten until 5th grade. No worries, I didn’t insist that everything at the party be gluten-free. I just made sure that Kacie had a similar gluten-free alternative, so she didn’t feel left out.
I always provided enough gluten-free cupcakes for the entire class, even though non gluten-free cupcakes were provided too. The kiddos got to choose which cupcake they wanted, and often times, they chose the gluten-free cupcakes! It may or may not have had anything to do with the cute rings or toys that were front and center on the top of the gluten-free cupcakes.
Sometimes you have to level the playing field.
For Kacie’s birthday every year, I went out of my way to make sure her cake was something she could be proud of. As time went on, my cake decorating skills got better and better and before long, my cakes and cupcakes looked as good as they tasted.
To date, Kacie has only had one birthday cake that I didn’t make. We were all so excited to buy a beautiful birthday cake from a specialty gluten-free shop that opened near our home when she was a teenager. Unfortunately, the cake was a tasteless disappointment, so I put my apron back on.
So, how did I end up here, writing this blog? Well, I taught middle school English for several years, so writing is something I’m passionate about. You’ve just read my life story, so you know I’m passionate about delicious gluten-free food, and it just seemed like the right time to combine the two.
Five years ago, we moved across the country and I decided to take a year off from teaching and focus on baking full time. I started a gluten-free cottage bakery from my home kitchen. Doing this allowed me the opportunity to tweak my recipes even more and come up with some really amazing gluten-free baked goods.
In my bakery, I made everything from cookies to wedding cakes. I absolutely loved hearing my customers rave about how delicious my baked goods were and how they could not believe they were gluten-free. I felt like I was making the gluten-free world better, one cookie at a time.
A great deal of detail goes in to cake and cookie decorating. Spending hours a day squeezing icing bags and bottles lead to carpal tunnel. I got to the point where I couldn’t even turn a door knob, and I knew that my days as a cottage baker had to end.
After countless requests from my customers to share my recipes by teaching gluten-free baking classes or creating a gluten-free recipe book, I decided to share my recipes and my experiences with gluten-free baking in this blog.
Whether you are new to the gluten-free game or have been baking gluten-free for years like me, I hope you find the information I share in this blog useful, and I hope you love the recipes as much as my family and I do.
The Gluten Free Style