Every Sunday, the Rev. Paul Blanch of St. George’s Episcopal Church in the Stockade noticed a recurring theme: Members of his congregation would approach the altar rail during Communion requesting gluten-free wafers.
But the request for gluten-free products did not stop at the altar. It carried on into social events as well.
“The gluten-free aisles in our supermarket are getting bigger,” Blanch said. “This is a growing problem.”
Blanch and his congregation decided it was time to take action and create a more gluten friendly environment at St. George’s. Joan Pearson, a retired teacher and member of the congregation, agreed.
In college, Pearson lived with someone who had celiac disease, a disease in which people must avoid eating foods containing gluten. Pearson said it was a challenge to find food her housemate could eat.
“That has stayed with me in the back of my mind for a good long time,” she said. And years later, Pearson’s college friend is still inspiring her to help others find gluten-free options.
The congregation cookbook for St. George’s had not been updated since 1980, according to Pearson. Many of the recipes from the outdated cookbook included heavy cream, Jell-O salads and time-consuming recipes. Pearson felt it was time for an update that included gluten-free options and she was ready to take on the challenge. Thus the Culinary Confessions Cookbook Project emerged.
“It is a different style of cooking,” Pearson said describing the new St. George’s cookbook. It include faster ways to make meals and healthier options.
A member on a church committee who has celiac read every recipe submitted for the cookbook and helped come up with gluten-free alteratives. More than half of the cookbook includes gluten-free recipes. At social events, members of the congregation have been testing out all of the new recipes.
“Whenever we have a social function now, we have to have really good gluten-free options,” Blanch said.
Members of the congregation submitted recipes and the finished product now contains 293 recipes, according to Pearson. Local businesses such as Glen Sanders Mansion and Turf Tavern have also participated. Pearson said if people are looking to cook like local chefs, this cookbook is for them. Even Blanch, who is from the U.K., submitted some of his own English recipes.
The cookbook has “something for everyone,” Blanch said. “Episcopalians like good food.”
The cookbook project began last fall and is now in its final stages of processing. Pearson said she just got to see the final digital copy and is pleased with how it has turned out.
“I am very proud of the finished product,” she said. “It’s something that I wanted to do for a number of years.”
The cookbook will sell for $20 and proceeds will go to funding St. George’s organ renovations.