Are Oats Gluten-Free?

Are Oats Gluten-Free?

I do not have celiac disease and do not follow a gluten-free diet. But when I'm entertaining gluten-free friends, or participating in a pot luck where one or more of the participants is gluten-free, of course, I want to make something that they can eat.

This weekend, I offered to bring a fruit crisp to a pot luck hosted by friends, one of whom is gluten-free. Figuring that I would use oats and no wheat flour for the topping, I was confident that my dessert would be gluten-free. Would you have assumed the same?

Luckily, I happened to mention my plan to one of the hosts. He told me that oats are not always gluten-free. But how can that be? Oats don't contain gluten.

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Apple and Honey Tarts for Rosh Hashanah

Apple and Honey Tarts for Rosh Hashanah

When the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, rolls around, I get to play with one of my all-time-favorite ingredient combinations, apples and honey. Together they symbolize our wish for a sweet new year.

Why use apples and honey to signify a sweet year? After checking several sources, the most convincing explanation I found is from the Union for Reform Judaism: apples, which were rare and treasured, symbolize the relationship between people and God and honey was the most widely available sweetener in the Jewish world in ancient times. By the way, although the apple is traditionally associated with the Garden of Eden, the URJ notes that the Bible does not identify the forbidden fruit. 

To follow the custom of eating apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah, you could merely dip apple slices in honey – and that’s lovely. But really, wouldn’t you rather have your very own apple and honey tart?

Made with ready-made puff pastry, these tarts are simple and quick to prepare. Each puff pastry sheet makes 6 single-serving tarts. They are easy to eat too. My husband grabbed one from a batch sitting on the cooling rack and he gobbled it up without a plate or napkin.

Single Serving Apple and Honey Tarts

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Sept 11 - No Ordinary Day

Sept 11 - No Ordinary Day

Normally this blog is a refuge for me, and I hope for you. Food is comforting and whether I write about a recipe or facts about an ingredient, the troubles of the world generally do not intrude here. Still, I could not bring myself to put up a post with a Sept 11th date and simply act as if this day was ordinary.

Three days before Sept. 11, 2001, at a family celebration (my daughter’s bat mitzvah), our then 16-year-old son pointed out that his grandparents’ generation was defined by the WWII experience, his parents' by the civil rights movement and Vietnam, and he asked rhetorically what would define his generation. In retrospect, the question has an answer that I wish it did not.

It amazes me that 13 years have passed. I look out my kitchen window now and see a crystal clear day, taking me back to the way the skies looked in New York City and Washington, DC on that day – until they were darkened by smoke and fire. I first heard of the tragedy on the news as I was preparing for a conference call. Needless to say, when the conference call occurred in the aftermath of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, the news played in the background and I was completely distracted, unable to think about work. If you’re 18 or older, you can probably remember that day. Where were you and how did you first hear of the events unfolding?

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