10 Questions with KC | Shauna, Gluten Free Girl

My friend Shauna, who y’all probably know as the Gluten Free Girl, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Gluten Free Flour blends she & her chef-husband Danny have created to the GF masses.  There are just a few days left to get in on the action, and the supporter gifts are a-MAZ-ing, including their award-winning cookbooks, cookies shipped to your house, a private dinner and even a phone consult with Shauna herself. Run, don’t walk, to get your hands on some of this flour – and read one to hear about how they created the blends, what’s goin’ on in the Gluten Free Girl’s fridge, and some of our shared loves: sourdough, olive ranches, fish sauce and chocolate.
The picture above is of Shauna & me with Nicole from Pinch My Salt – we’ve got a shared love for her too.

XOXOXO – KC


You’re launching two new Gluten Free Flour blends via a Kickstarter campaign – tell me how you developed them, and why you choose Kickstarter.

For nearly a decade, we have been developing recipes for great gluten-free foods, first on our website, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, and then in a series of award-winning cookbooks.

Over the years, we realized that most of you don’t want to be chemists in the kitchen, mixing 8 different flours, trying to build enough to protein to create structure or add enough starch to make moist baked goods. You just want to make pancakes for your kids on Saturday morning.

A few years ago, we came up with a formula for an all-purpose flour blend that worked in every recipe we tried. We published the recipe on our website and hundreds of people wrote to say how much it changed their baking for the better. But most people asked, “Can we just buy it from you?” We wanted to make the process easier, so we dropped the blend to three flours, keeping the flour blend 40% whole grain. Hundreds of people wrote to say their families loved the baked goods they made with our All-Purpose Flour Blend. This is their family flour now. Still, most wrote to us to say, “Can we just buy it from you?”

Two years ago, we started thinking about packaging and selling our flour blends. For the past year, we have been working on this with real dedication. To create the best gluten-free recipes, we have blended and tested dozens and dozens of different gluten-free flour blends. All for you! After much research and thousands of hours, we have a co-packer we trust, a package design we love, and a package manufacturer. We are ready to launch two flour blends.

We chose Kickstarter because it’s such a great way to reach people directly and ask for their help. We could have gone to investors for money, and then debuted the flour blends with a big flourish. But our entire career has been born online, with the community of gluten-free folks and people who love our recipes and readers who love my writing. Asking for help takes a lot of courage but it has been extraordinary going through this. This feels like a movement, a way for folks to participate besides buying the flours. It’s stressful but this way we begin this venture without being in debt and with a built-in audience.

Why the Grain Free Blend? Are you eating Grain Free or Paleo at home?

About two years ago, I started hearing from a few readers, asking for help. More requests arrived in my inbox, then more. These gluten-free folks had discovered, through various means, that their health improved if they avoided all grains, not just gluten. Some of them did better without all those easy sources of carbohydrates. Others felt the inflammation plaguing them still remaining after giving up gluten seemed to disappear when they gave up grains. Some had started committing to the Paleo diet and saw a big shift in their health and well-being. Others suffered from Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis and found their guts just couldn’t take whole grains anymore.

And they all asked us the same question: “Can you help us come up with a grain-free flour blend for baking? We trust your recipes. I know if you make it, this flour blend would work.”

While we felt a little overwhelmed by the requests, we listened. Danny and I both do this work to help as many people as we can. How could we not want to help?

Over time, as we began playing with different nut flours and starches, we had some frustrating baking attempts. But we kept playing — and how lucky we feel that this is our job, to combine different flours and bake banana bread until we love it —we found a blend we loved.

Almond flour, buckwheat flour, and arrowroot starch. It’s a magic combination. It’s also utterly delicious.

When you’re not cooking for the blog or a cookbook, what are your favorite go-to dishes?

When are we not cooking for the blog or a cookbook? Our poor kids never get the same dish twice. We realized last year that it was starting to be a problem for our daughter, who wanted a little meal stability to her week. So we made every Friday night pizza and movie night. And then we added taco Thursdays. She LOVES it.

We make a different pizza every week and a different taco bar every week. But those are two days of the week we don’t have to think about dinner too much. Wednesdays are now soup and salad night. Soon, we’ll have a theme for every night of the week!

I teared up when I heard about the James Beard Award you won for Gluten-Free Girl Everyday – what can we expect from your next book?

Oh thank you! We were so amazed by the Beard Award. I just assumed Mark Bittman would win! We found out we were nominated the day before our son was born, and then we won when he was 8 weeks old or so (that time is a bit of a blur now). It was really special to us.

Our next book, American Classics Reinvented, will be published in October of 2015. We’re very proud of this one. We had hundreds and hundreds of people requesting recipes, so this should be a crowd pleaser! It’s American favorite comfort foods, turned gluten-free. Sourdough bread! *see image. It’s delish. KC

Did you have a favorite part of the trip, or a favorite meal?

Honestly, we talk all the time about the day we had with you in Madera. Visiting the organic farm, going to the port winery, and seeing olives growing on trees, then tasting those olives? All in the midst of the drought growing stronger? We are so grateful for that experience on the ground. Farmers are my favorite people. We’d be lost without them.

Your daughter, Lu, is one of my favorite free-spirit people – what’s Lu’s favorite breakfast food?

Ha! She’s definitely a free spirit. With all this traveling, we seemed to have instilled wanderlust in her early.

She would happily eat pancakes every day for breakfast — but she doesn’t like maple syrup on them, just peanut butter or some of our homemade peach jam. But pancakes aren’t always the best way to start a long day, particularly when you run as hard as she does and love to dance as much as she does.

So generally, she’s happy if we have these egg muffins we make — lots of sautéed vegetables, a bit of Parmesan, spices, and eggs, all puffed up when baked in a muffin pan. We make big batches of these and have them for quick breakfasts.

Desmond is getting so big! How has having two kiddos at home changed the way you cook? We crazy-busy moms want to know…

Honestly, having two kids is one of the reasons we are doing this new venture of the Gluten-Free Girl Flour Blends! With two kids, and running a business, there’s no way I’m going to blend 8 different flours for one muffin recipe. And this is what I do for a living!

Desmond is an absolute joy. He’s jumping in his jumper as I type this, bouncing in and out of the sunlight on the floor. He’s a sweet, calm boy. And even though Danny and I cook and bake all day long, we still look at each other sometimes at 4:30 and say, “Wait, what are we doing for dinner?”

If there was one tip you could give home cooks, what would it be?

I’m a big believer in batch cooking now. Make a big batch of meatballs ahead of time. Have all the salad greens prepared. Have a pot of soup made. Keep a baguette or two in the freezer, ready to finish baking. Dinner.

It means a few hours of dedicated cooking and shopping on the weekends. But that’s a great time for us, with Lucy helping. Even Desmond is learning to stir the scrambled eggs, with our help!

If we opened your fridge at home, what would I find?

Right now? A batch of pork-beef meatballs, ready to eat. (Our kitchen studio on Vashon is on a 12-acre farm and our landlords run a meat company. So we buy really good meat and make it last.) Salad greens. A pot of curried sweet potato soup. Homemade sauerkraut. A batch of homemade mayonnaise. (Lucy is crazy about mayonnaise.) A fruit salad. Yogurt. Preserved lemons. Caramelized pear vinaigrette. Heads of cabbage and carrots and sausages for breakfast. Fish sauce. I’m crazy about fish sauce. And the door of the fridge has about 48 different sauces, dips, marinades, and unusual ingredients from the Asian supermarket in Seattle.

Ok: here’s the big one: Lemon, Pumpkin or Chocolate?

Are you kidding me? Chocolate. Always, chocolate.