September 20, 2021

Canyon Sages to Host Cookbook Author Kristine Kidd, June 9

 

Topanga chef and author created gluten-free recipes to manage her own celiac disease.

PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTINE KIDD

Canyon Sages to Host Cookbook Author Kristine Kidd, June 9

"Gluten-free chef Kristine Kidd will sign copies of her book “Weeknight Gluten Free” at the Topanga Library on June 9.

A book signing for cookbook author Kristine Kidd’s seventh book, “Weeknight Gluten Free,” will be held at the Topanga Library meeting room from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 9. The signing is co-sponsored by the Topanga Library and is open to all ages.

Kidd, who was the food editor for Bon Appétit magazine for 27 years, made the transition to gluten-free when the symptoms of her celiac disease re-emerged two and a half years ago.

“I was diagnosed as a baby and brought up with the understanding that it was dealt with. I was gluten-free for three years and so I was cured. That’s what they thought back then,” she said. “I always had digestive issues, but several years ago they worsened.”

She experienced weight loss and extreme fatigue. Medical tests confirmed that the disease caused these problems and the only way to manage them was to permanently cut the protein, gluten, out of her diet.

Canyon Sages to Host Cookbook Author Kristine Kidd, June 9

Kidd spent the next year developing the Williams-Sonoma cookbook, “Weeknight Gluten Free,” developing her recipes by cooking for her family and friends and emphasizing fresh, seasonal ingredients. Polenta, legumes and potatoes are just a few of the naturally gluten-free ingredients featured in the book.

She stressed that her approach to the gluten-free book was not radically different from her last book, “Weeknight Fresh and Fast,” noting, “They haven’t really noticed a difference. This way I can prepare nutritious and satisfying meals at home for everyone,” said Kidd.

At the book signing, Canyon Sages will feature Kidd’s recently created gluten-free peanut butter cookies, which taste just as rich as their gluten counterparts.

Unlike the heavily processed gluten-free cookies you see in stores, these cookies are made of egg, peanut butter, brown sugar, baking powder and vanilla.

“I prefer naturally gluten-free things and these were so simple and delicious,” said Kidd.

The gluten-free diet was recently made popular by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow.

Many people without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are trying the diet believing there may be some health benefits including weight loss. Kidd warned against this.

“If there is a medical reason, it is advised but otherwise it is not a healthy diet,” she said.

Kidd does not use the gluten-free substitutions often found in store-bought products. These white starches have little to no nutritional value compared to gluten-filled white wheat flour.

“If you went gluten-free the way I do, you’re just eating natural, nutritious foods. That would be a healthy diet.

“Celiac and gluten sensitivities are more and more in the minds of people in the last few years so once you’re suspicious the test is actually very easy,” said Kidd, emphasizing that doctors advise against self-diagnosis. Stopping gluten consumption before testing can produce inaccurate results.

Long before her transition to gluten-free, Kidd made another significant change to her process. Several years after she moved to Topanga in the mid-‘80s, she discovered the Calabasas farmers’ market. Now she goes to the Topanga farmers’ market every week to look for inspiration.

“All of the produce is so fresh it doesn’t need a lot of help in the kitchen, so it’s much quicker. Much of the produce in the supermarket is already a week old,” she said.

Kidd’s passion for cooking began at a young age when she would assist her mother and grandmother in the kitchen. The first thing she learned to make was brown sugar cookies.

“We called them Grandmother Cookies. We rolled them into balls and made a thumbprint. We put either jam or cinnamon sugar in them,” said Kidd.

At 13, Kidd’s family moved from Los Angeles to New York. Her father opened a country inn and restaurant in Vermont called the Red Fox Inn. She loved working in the kitchen and apprenticed with the chef during her teens.

One year, when she was home from college for Christmas vacation, she had the opportunity to run the kitchen herself. The chef wanted time off and her parents were leaving on a business trip.

“My dad said, ‘you’re cooking,’ and I said, ‘no I’m not. Don’t be ridiculous.’ He said, ‘Oh yes you are.’ I was panicked the first night, but by the end I loved it,” said Kidd.

She ran the lodge and the kitchen for several years before moving back to Los Angeles in her late 20s. She taught cooking classes and ran a catering business and eventually became the food editor for Bon Appetit in 1983.

Kidd now lives in Topanga in a ridge-top home, where she grows her own herbs and many of her own fruits and vegetables.

“When we bought the house, the original idea was to have a kitchen garden. The second night I’m cooking, I look up and there are two bucks standing right where the kitchen garden was going to be,” she said.

Kidd planted several pots of chard and silver kale as well as fig, avocado and pomegranate trees, which don’t appeal to the deer. They also don’t eat the drought-resistant sages, lavenders and rosemary.

Kidd believes in sustainability and, to that end, she’s been working as the food editor for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website. She posts recipes on the site that only use sustainable seafood sources.

“A lot of fish are harvested in a way that really destroys the oceans, but anything from Alaska is a good choice,” said Kidd.

To try one of Kidd’s recent recipes visit her food blog at kristinekidd.com.

“Weeknight Gluten Free” is now available at Williams-Sonoma stores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many bookstores nationwide.

The Topanga Library is located at 122 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.