Last year, I didn't eat any of my Christmas cookies because I used the Martha Stewart recipe for sugar cookies that I always use, with loads of butter, sugar and gluten-laden flour. I didn't want to alter the recipe because, like many of Martha's creations, it is perfect, and one of the many reasons I have forgiven her for any of the things for which she was sent to prison. I'm sure she's learned her lesson, and she probably made her prison roomies some damn good cookies.
I always make sugar cookies for Christmas. Perfect, crispy, buttery Martha ones in the shapes of snowmen, stars, Christmas trees and bells, using my grandmother's cookie cutters. And I decorate them with Martha's royal icing and sparkly crystal sugar in red, green and white. My husband helps, although his decorating is slightly different than that shown in Martha's magazine.
We take plates of the sugar cookies into the office for coworkers. I put them into clear cellophane bags and tie them with Christmas ribbons, like Martha, to give to friends. I pack them into holiday cookie tins to mail across the country to relatives in far-flung states. I freeze some to take out when my sister-in-law visits in February and we need a sugar fix.
So even though I was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago, I decided the tradition must continue, and I kept on keeping on.
This year, I called a halt. I mean, really, isn't this a little Martha-loving, self-loathing, Stepford-wife, ridiculously creepy.
I thought about the lessons I learned from FlyLady.com, a website that helps people de-clutter their lives and get over their striving for perfectionism. I took the lessons a little too much to heart and didn't really do a perfect job of de-cluttering my life, but I did remember one of the suggestions about Christmas: If you are disappointed in the gifts you get under the tree - as some overworked workers/mothers/wives/house slaves are because they're so busy working before coming home to decorate the tree and write the Christmas cards and make the cranberry relish the way that grandma made it and finding the perfect gifts and wrapping and mailing them and getting gift cards for every teacher for every kid and writing a personal note with each of them about how they're making such a difference in that kid's life, that they never hint to anyone about anything they would like - then buy your own damn gifts, wrap them and stuff them in your own damn stocking.
Well, FlyLady didn't say damn. That's my added emphasis. But every year since I read that, I've been stuffing my own damn stocking with books and candy and trinkets that ring my holiday bell.
And I asked myself, "What would FlyLady think of someone who baked a bunch of cookies she couldn't eat and gave them to everybody else for Christmas?" And I answered myself, "She would think that is someone with an empty cookie plate."
So, this year, I decided to test out the claim of the gluten-free flour product Cup4Cup, which says: Our name comes from Cup4Cup's ingenious ability to replace all-purpose wheat flour in traditional recipes cup for cup--which makes translating your favorite recipes for cookies, cupcakes, quick breads, biscuits and more that much easier."
It worked with the Nestlé Toll House chocolate-chip recipe I tried earlier this year, so why not Martha's.
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I threw caution to the wind and poured five cups into the bowl with Martha's butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, and mixed away.
The result: crisp, buttery, sugar cookies that looked, tasted and decorated, just like last year's. My cookie plate is full.
Merry Gluten-Free-Sugar-Cookie Christmas.