Jeremiah 11 and 12

Dear Reader,

This is a continuation of my series of the Book of Jeremiah. You can find links to all the posts here.

Jeremiah 11 begins with a reference to the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai and to the covenant made there between God and His people. Much has been written on covenants in the Bible and I do not want to rehash it all here. The relevant detail at this point is that there were blessings and curses attached for keeping or breaking the covenant. God is now calling down those curses onto His people (v. 3).

The crime of which the people are accused is worshipping other gods (v. 10). I was struck by God’s accusation that “your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah” (Jer. 11:13; ESV). This is really how the rest of the ancient Near East worked — every city had its own god — but for God’s people it was not to be so. Though the Lord has His city in Jerusalem, He is not tied to it as the heathen gods were. He is the God of the whole earth.

The poetry in verses 15 and 16 is difficult. I have already addressed in another post the references to the “beloved.” The phrase “holy flesh” is harder to grasp. One can see the difficulties in the very different ways our translations deal with Jeremiah 11:15:

“What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.” (KJV)

“What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds? Can even sacrificial flesh avert your doom? Can you then exult?” (ESV)

To be holy is to be set apart for God’s purposes rather than for ordinary, everyday ones. The ESV takes the Hebrew phrase “holy flesh” to mean “sacrificial (i.e. set apart for sacrifice) meat.” It then combines this with the next phrase about doing evil. It is also understanding  the verb “pass over” as a transitive rather than an intransitive verb. That is, the ESV is reading not “the holy flesh will pass” but “the holy flesh will cause to pass.” The object of “cause to pass” is then “your evil” which comes later, giving us “the holy(=sacrificial) flesh will cause your evil to pass.”  The orignal text would have had no punctuation and so it is hard at times to know where the phrases should be divided. Nor would it have had vowels which in Hebrew make all the difference between “to pass” and “to cause to pass.” We must recognize, however, that the ESV is being interpretive in that it gives us what it thinks the text means though this is not unequivocally so. I do not fault the ESV for this; it must somehow come up with a sentence that makes sense to its English readers. But we should also recognize that there are times when what we read it not the only possibility for the text. Even in simpler passages, there are choices that are made by the editors and translators, and every translation is to some extent an interpretation (this is why the Muslims do not allow the Koran to be officially translated). When I have time, I would like to further study the idea of “holy flesh”; it strikes me as a very odd phrase and I wonder if we find it anywhere else.

Moving on, in verse 20 and again later in chapter 12, verse 2, the prophet speaks of the kidneys and heart.  The ESV uses heart and mind in translating this verse but the Hebrew literally says kidneys and heart. To the ancient Israelites the kidneys were the seat of emotion, as  we say the heart is, and the heart was where one did one’s thinking — as we use the word mind or brain. The ancients had no idea that all that grey muck in the head did anything  useful at all. The Egyptians when mummifying bodies threw it all out as useless and not necessary in the afterlife.

At the end of chapter 1, things gets personal. The prophet Jeremiah is from the town of Anathoth and now he prophesies against them. Its inhabitants seem to be seeking Jeremiah’s life. One is reminded here of another prophet who was not received well in his own home town (Jesus, in case you didn’t guess).

In chapter 11, Jeremiah, as a type of his Lord to come, is spoken of as lamb led to the slaughter (v. 19). In chapter 12, the tables are turned and it is the enemies who will be uprooted and led as sheep to the slaughter (v. 3).

Chapter 12 ends with a glimmer of hope. God says,

“‘And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land.'” (Jer. 12:15; ESV)

This hope seems to be not just for Judah but even for her neighbors “if they will diligently learn the ways of my people” (Jer. 12:16).

And so in this often rather depressing book, we find a note of hope for the future — if God is obeyed and His covenant is kept.

Nebby

 

My New “You Decide” Gluten-Free Cookie Recipe (Add Chocolate chips, Raisins, etc.)

Dear Reader,

Unable to wait any longer for Christmas, I have already shared with you my gingerbread cookie recipe. I wanted now to give the plain version of that recipe. I say plain but the truth is there are lots of ways you can make these cookies — add chocolate chips, or raisins and nuts, or craisins and white chocolate chips — the possibilities are endless. These are really “you decide” cookies.

In addition to being gluten-free, you can also make these cookies low sugar by using xylitol in place of the sugar or low-fat. Plus because the dough gets refrigerated before baking, you can keep a roll of it in the fridge and bake them up anytime you want them in just minutes (like those store-bought cookie doughs, but healthier and gluten-free; I’m not sure I can say cheaper given the price of gluten-free flours ;) ).

If you make so many cookies that you aren’t able to eat them all before they begin to get dry, try popping them in the microwave for a few seconds. They will soften up plus you will have warm cookies to eat again.

You Decide Gluten-free Cookies

Ingredients:

1 c millet flour

1 c gluten-free oat flour

1/2 c tapioca starch (same thing as tapioca flour)

1/2 c coconut flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp xantham gum

1 c granulated sugar or xylitol (use xylitol for the low sugar option)

1/2 c Lighter Bake* (use for low-fat version) or 1 c butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp egg whites (use for low-fat version) or 1 whole egg

1 tbsp molasses

1/2-1 c almond milk (if allergic to nuts, substitute another milk of your choice)

*If you are not familiar with Lighter Bake, it is a fat substitute made from pureed dates (I believe). You should be able to get it in the baking aisle of your grocery store.

Directions:

1. Combine flours, salt, powder, and xantham in a large bowl. Whisk them all together till you can’t tell what’s what.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the xylitol or sugar, vanilla, egg, molasses, and the Lighter Bake or melted butter. Mix well.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry; stir well. The mix will be fairly dry still at this point.

4. Add 1/4 c of almond milk at a time to the dough. Stir well with each addition. I found that the first time I made these, it took me 1 full cup of milk, but the second I only needed 1/2 cup. The goal here is to not have any powdery-ness left but to not have too sticky a dough either; you want it to be just moistened. (My guess is that using sugar rather than xylitol the second time meant I needed less liquid.)

5. When your dough is thoroughly mixed, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours (you can even wait a couple of days). If you want to be able to just slice them and go, wrap them in a long tube, like that store-bought dough you can just buy and bake (see the pictures below).

6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Slice the dough into 1/4″ slices, place on parchment lined cookie sheet (or sue those silicone liners) and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Happy baking!

Nebby

Making your own ready-to-bake cookie dough tubes

Plop the dough down on a long piece on plastic wrap

Plop the dough down on a long piece on plastic wrap

Fold the wrap in on both sides and squeeze the dough through it into a long tube shape -- no messy hands here!

Fold the wrap in on both sides and squeeze the dough through it into a long tube shape — no messy hands here!

The end result -- ready to slice and bake whenever you need it

The end result — ready to slice and bake whenever you need it

Here it is on a plate to go in the fridge

Here it is on a plate to go in the fridge

 

Books on the U.S. Constitution

Dear Reader,

We only spent about three weeks on the Constitution in our homeschool, but I wanted to share with you the books we used. A few are good, living books; others are not but they were the best I could get my hands on from our library system. This seems to be one of those subjects on which much is written for kids, but little is truly wonderful. This is part of a continuing series in which I share with you what we have been reading as we make our way through American history. You can find all the posts here.

And now, without further ado, books we used on the U.S. Constitution:

constitutionbooks

Story of the Great Republic by Helen Guerber — This was our spine book for this topic. There were really only 4 or 5 chapters we read from it, but I did feel it gave a nice introduction to the issues at stake and why we needed a constitution.

We the People by Peter Spier and We the Kids by David Catrow — Both of these books are just the preamble to the Constitution with lots of pictures. Of the two, Spier’s is better. It has lots of pictures on each page from different times and places in the US. Catrow’s has pictures of two kids and their dog camping. It didn’t make a ton of sense to me.

House Mouse, Senate Mouse and Woodrow the White House Mouse and Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse all by Peter Barnes — These picture books posit a mouse government parallel to our own. They are cute, informative and done in verse.

Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz — Fritz’s books are always entertaining and well-done. At about 44 pages each they are easy enough for my 9yo but could also work for older children. I’d say they are 3rd-7th grade level. This one really does a great job of telling the story of the Constitution — why we needed it and how it came about.

The Great Constitution by Henry Steele Commager — This one is a real find — a living book in the Constitutional Convention. I would say it is middle school level but I had my 9th grader read it too. It is not overly long but it really manages to bring the personalities involved to life and adds a lot of interesting details.

The U.S. Constitution by Norman Pearl — This is not a living book but manages to cover the basics without being overly tedious of having a lot of distracting side panels like so many books these days do. It is elementary level.

The Bill of Rights in Translation by Amie Jane Leavitt — Again, this is not a living book. As its name suggests it looks at the amendments in the Bill of Rights one by one and explains to kids what the language means.

The United States Constitution by Therese Shea — Still not a living book but a concise explanation of the Constitution. It added some details we had not read in other sources, including (very) brief summaries of the various articles of the Constitution and some of the later amendments.

Did You Know?: the American Revolution by Guy Robinson –This is a book of question and answers on the Revolution and Constitution. It is not very CM-y, I suppose, but my kids respond well to answering these things in a game show type format. I did not go through every one but there were quite a lot which covered material we had covered and we had a  good time. Plus they got candy for right answers. That is definitely not CM.

Lastly, not a book but don’t forget about the old Schoolhouse Rock videos they are great for covering how a bill becomes a law, the three branches of our government and the preamble.

Not a long list, I know. Any favorites you would add?

Nebby

THM, JUDDD, Fasting and a Recipe: Low Calorie Pizza

Dear Reader,

I have been toying with the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) way of eating for a while and it has helped me in some ways though I don’t have a lot of weight to lose if any. Whether through my own lack of rigor or because I am pretty close to goal weight or because I am getting older and having some hormonal issues, THM has not been working well for me lately. Based on a suggestion in the THM book, I decide to add a new component, JUDDD (don’t you just love acronyms?). JUDDD is a form of what they call alternate day fasting or up-day, down-day eating. Basically, three days a week you eat pretty minimally and the other four you eat normally. This has been working a lot better.

I think there are a couple of issues at work. One is that after a while on one WOE (way of eating, in internet lingo) one gets bored and one’s metabolism also gets bored. Sometimes any new approach helps just because it is new. Another is that at least for now JUDDD is easier to think about. THM is about not combining fat and carbs and this just requires a lot more thought than just not eating very much some days. I still think in a THM way some of the time, but I don’t feel so much pressure to get it right. Even the THM book says that if you combine it with JUDDD you will need more of what they call crossover meals which combine fat and carbs.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the internet gurus were right and that the down-days (low-calorie days) on JUDDD are not too tough. Though I am at times hungry, I am not starving and in general I am more energetic on those days. I try to eat the same things a lot on those days so I don’t have to think too much about it and it feels like I have more time overall in my day. It makes me think really that the old practice of fasting for religious purposes has some merit to it. Being raised Catholic, I tend now to shy away from things that smack of strict religiosity. But I could see that regular fasting could have a lot of benefits. I do think it would be harder if done irregularly or sporadically. I know for myself if I just had to miss food once in a while it would probably be all I thought about. But when the body is somewhat used to it, there is actually a feeling of greater clarity and being able to better focus that comes on the fasting days. Though I should note that I don’t fast in the sense of not eating at all; I just eat a lot less.

The biggest question I had in trying this whole JUDDD thing is what to eat on the down days. I have found some things that work for me. One is my 100 calorie shake which I have shared previously. Another is this oat fiber bread which I think is only 50 calories. It is a bit dry and bland by itself, which leads me to this recipe:

Low-Calorie Pizza

Make oat fiber bread according to this recipe from The Fruit of Her Hands. Slice bread in half and place on cookie sheet. Top with 1 tbsp sugar-free pizza sauce (see the recipe on this page). Spread evenly with one wedge Laughing Cow Cheese (if you can find it, the tomato basil flavor is an excellent choice). Sprinkle with about 2 tsp parmesan cheese (the kind in the can). Broil on high for 3-5 minutes until it begins to get brown and crispy.

That’s it. If you are eating Domino’s every day it may not taste impressive but it’s pretty good for only about 100 calories.

Doesn't look half bad, does it?

Doesn’t look half bad, does it?

Nebby

“Beloved” in the Bible

Dear Reader,

This is a rabbit trail type post from my series on the book of Jeremiah. It arises from some verses in Jeremiah 11 and 12 which use the word “beloved.” As I read these, I got to thinking about the ways this word is used in both the Old and New Testaments. The Song of Solomon of course came to mind immediately with verses like “I am my beloved’s and he is mine.” That’s one you hear a lot. And then there is the beloved disciple, aka John, in the New Testament. So I got to thinking about who is called beloved in the Bible and what conclusions we can draw from this use of this word.

So out came the Hebrew concordance for the Old Testament and the English one for the New (because my Greek has languished) and I began researching. Here is what I found out:

Beloved in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, there are two closely related roots which are used for “beloved.” It is worth noting that neither of these is the root I would call up if you asked me how to say “love” in biblical Hebrew; there is another word for that. The two roots used are very similar; they are ydd and dwd. Almost all Hebrew words are built off of triliteral (three-letter) consonantal roots. But y and w are something in between a vowel and a consonant; they have a tendency to be glided over or to drop out in various forms of the words. So what we are looking at here is two very, very similar roots.

By far the more common of the two is dwd. There are three main words that are formed off of this root in the Old Testament. The first and most prevalent is a name: David. Perhaps not too surprisingly if you know your OT history, “David” occurs over 1,000 times in the Hebrew Bible. I do not think this is insignificant. If you could pick one person out of the Bible, other than the disciple John who is openly called beloved, who is beloved by God, who would it be? For me it would be David. Not only is the meaning of his name “beloved” but he in particular seems to have a close and ongoing relationship with God. He is called “a man after God’s own heart” and I don’t think it is a stretch to say that this relationship went both ways. Just look at the Psalms, so many of which are attributed to David. Here is a man who knew God; struggled with God, yes, and sinned greatly too, but knew Him as few do.

I am going to skip down to the least common of the uses of dwd; it is the word “uncle.” This use occurs approximately 28 times. I don’t have a lot to say about this usage except to observe that the ancient Hebrews must have loved their uncles a lot. Kind of makes you think you should call yours up, huh?

Lastly, there is the third use of dwd, meaning “beloved” or “love.” This occurs 42 times (if I counted correctly) of which 39 are in the Song of Solomon. These all refer to romantic love between a man and a woman. Though I would say the Song of Solomon references are positive ones, the three usages outside of that book (Ezek. 16:8 and 23:17; Prov. 7:18) seem to use the word in a negative way to refer to the love of a harlot or the like.

The other root, ydd, occurs only about ten times. While its uses are not radically different from those of dwd, there is an added element here. Whereas with dwd, the beloved was, at least in the plain sense of the text, one human loved by another human, here we begin to see the use of beloved for people loved by God. The word is used generally to refer to God’s people as a whole in Isaiah and Jeremiah:

“Let me sing for my beloved, my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.” (Isa. 5:1; ESV)

“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble. What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds?” (Jer. 11:14-15a)

“I have forsaken my house; I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.” (Jer. 12:7)

In these instances, Israel (or Judah as the case may be) is the beloved and God is the lover. The metaphor of marriage for God’s relationship with His people is found throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, Israel is often depicted as an unfaithful wife — this is the whole premise of the book, and life, of Hosea — whereas in the New Testament the Church is the pure white bride of Christ. Despite the differences, the husband/wife image persists.

In other OT references, the designation of beloved is applied to either one member or one segment of the nation. In Deuteronomy, Benjamin alone is singled out:

“Of Benjamin he said, ‘The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.'” (Deut. 33:12)

In its context, this seems to refer to the tribe of Benjamin, not the individual.

In the Book of Psalms we find:

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Ps. 127:2)

“That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!” (Ps. 60:5; cf. Ps. 108:6)

The first reference is to a singular beloved though not to a specific person — it could be any member of God’s people. The second could refer to the whole people or could be taken to apply just to David and his followers.

Beloved in the New Testament

My examination of the New Testament uses of beloved will not be quite so in-depth (mainly because of my own deficiencies in Greek). As you may have heard in a sermon, Greek has a fewwords for love. The one I looked at is agape. I found seven cases in which Jesus is called the beloved of God the Father. The most well-known occasion is Jesus’ baptism. In Matthew’s account, we read:

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:16-17)

The other references, if you care to look at them, are: Matt. 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35).

There is one other reference to Jesus as the beloved in the context  of a parable. In Luke 20, Jesus tells the story of a vineyard owner whose tenants rebel against them. As a last measure, he sends his beloved son (v. 13) whom they also beat and kill. Of course, we know that the owner represents God the Father and the son is Jesus and the tenants are God’s people, the nation of Israel. It is intriguing that the vineyard metaphor is used here along with the term beloved just as it was in  Isaiah.

John uses some form of agape far more than any other New Testament writer. Of course, if you are familiar with his epistles, this will come as no surprise. It occurs more than 60 times in his various books. Most often in the NT, in John’s writings and elsewhere, beloved is used as a term of endearment for the Christians being addressed, either individually or corporately. A couple of examples will suffice:

“Beloved, we are God’s children now . . . ” (I John 3:2a)

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ . . .” (Jude 1:1)

“. . . Greet my beloved Epaenetus . . . ” (Rom. 16:5)

“That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord . . .” (I Cor. 4:17)

“As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” (Rom. 9:25)

[This last reference does not seem to be a direct quote from Hosea which does not itself use the word beloved though it does say “I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’” (Hos. 2:23).]

It is actually quite striking relative to the Old Testament usages how often an individual is called beloved in the New Testament. Of these, John is particular is singled out (albeit in  his own gospel account) and called “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (cf. John 19:26; 21:7, 20).

Conclusions

But what is the significance of all this? Can we learn anything from how the Bible uses the word beloved?

My first thought as I began delving into this topic was to distinguish between verses in which beloved is used in a romantic  or man/woman context (like all the Song of Solomon references) and those which are not what we would call romantic, such as when a man like John is called beloved by God. And while we could use these categories, I also think that there is somewhat of a false dichotomy here. The fact is that the church is the bride of Christ so when God’s people, or members of that group, are called beloved, it is not really a different use but just an extension of the romantic use. In truth, though, we should view it the other way; it is not that God uses our romantic relationships as metaphors for His love, but that God created our romantic relationships, and marriage particularly, to mirror His love for us.

Probably the most striking thing to me is how the use of beloved changes from the Old to New Testaments. Though David, by virtue of his name, is literally “beloved” in the OT, no other person is called beloved by God. The nation is, or course, but even this is often negative as in “I loved you, but you did not love me.”Compare this to the NT in which beloved is thrown around left and right. The readers of the various epistles are addressed as beloved by many writers and specific people are called beloved too.

Why the change? I think we can draw a couple of conclusions (as always, based on other things we know from the Bible too). First off, in the OT God views His people more corporately; it is the nation that is the beloved. In the NT, while the church takes the place of the nation, there is also an added, more personal element that allows the writers to call all believers as well as specific people “beloved.” Secondly, the negative aspect is gone in the NT; no longer is there the unfaithfulness which Israel was so often called to account for. We know, of course, that this is because of the work of Christ. There is joy in the relationship between the Lover (God) and the beloved (His people) now and this comes through in the text just as the yearning and disappointment that God so often felt in His unfaithful Israel came through in the OT texts.

Nebby

 

 

Thoreau on Entertainment

Dear Reader,

My oldest has ben studying various American short story writers and poets this year. This month’s selection is Henry David Thoreau. To go along with this, I have also been reading some books about him with my other children. If you don’t know the picture book series about him by D.B. Johnson, it is definitely worth checking out. We also stumbled upon the book Thoreau at Walden which takes selections from Walden and puts them in a cartoon-style book. It is low on words overall, but it is very well done.

In that book, we ran across a quote which I am going to mangle a bit because I no longer have it before me but which struck me as fitting in very well with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. It said, in essence, my neighbors need entertainments like the theater because they are not themselves very interesting. Of course, in our day there is so much more available to people than just the theater. There is TV and movies and iPods and video games and the internet. In fact, it is very hard to escape being entertained. I am even entertained when I pump my gas, go to the dentist, or wait in line at the supermarket.

The effect of this works in both directions. Because I am always being entertained by outside sources, I no longer need to find ways to interest or amuse myself and over time I lose that ability. And as I become more and more uninteresting and uninterested in anything but all those easy sources of entertainment, I increasingly seek them out.

This is true of us adults, but it is also true of our children. It is so easy to give in and get a DVD player for the car or a hand-held gaming device that is just going to be for those really trying times like waiting in a  doctor’s office. But the more we give into such things, the more they consume us. I hear often from  parents who say that their kids just aren’t interested in anything — they have no real hobbies (other than video games) and they take no interest in their schoolwork or in much of anythign else. But we unknowingly feed into this. We do not leave them on their own, unentertained, enough to give them time to not only find interests but to become interesting people themselves. Charlotte Mason spoke of the need for unscheduled time as masterly inactivity. Neither she nor Thoreau could have imagined to what extent things would go, how many sources of mindless entertainment here would be surrounding us on all sides.

It is hard, especially if your children are older and have gotten into poor habits, but if you want to foster interests in them, if you want them to engage with their schoolwork or with anything that is not electronic, you need to start cutting cords. We do not have a screen-free house-old though we have largely avoided the portable hand-held devices; I am not an advocate of getting rid of all screens, but we must put more conscious thought into where to draw the lines, both for ourselves and our children, or they threaten to overtake and consume us (funny that we should be called consumers when it seems we are really the consumees — always beign devoured by our possessions). I don’t know about you, but I expect to have many holidays and family dinners with my kids and I would rather they grow up to be interesting people.

Nebby

Recipe: Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies, Low-fat and Low Sugar options too

Dear Reader,

It’s cookie time! This is a variation of my new basic gluten-free cookie recipe. I haven’t actually published that recipe yet (stay tuned!), but the gingerbread variety seems like a must have this time of year so I didn’t want to put it off.

I have one child who can’t have dairy, wheat or soy and another who has Type 1 Diabetes and does better with lower carb foods. These cookies work for both their needs. I make them both low-fat and lowish carb when making them for just our family, but as you will see below, there are  a number of options here. I hope your family likes them as much as ours did.

The dough gets refrigerated for  a few hours before baking. I haven’t actually tried not doing this; if you are in a hurry, you could give it a whirl. Be sure to let me know how it turns out if you do. I actually like making cookies in two stages; I confess that I can only handle so much cookie-making with kids before my patience wears thin. Taking a break in the middle gives us all a chance to chill out as the cookie dough chills so we are fresh when it comes to the messy process of rolling out and decorating.

If you make so many cookies that you aren’t able to eat them all before they begin to get dry, try popping them in the microwave for a few seconds. They will soften up plus you will have warm cookies to eat again.

Gluten-free Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 c millet flour

1 c gluten-free oat flour

1/2 c tapioca starch (same thing as tapioca flour)

1/2 c coconut flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp xantham gum

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c granulated sugar or xylitol (use xylitol for the low sugar option)

1/2 c Lighter Bake* (use for low-fat version) or 1 c butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp egg whites (use for low-fat version) or 1 whole egg

2 tbsp molasses

1/2-1 c almond milk (if allergic to nuts, substitute another milk of your choice)

*If you are not familiar with Lighter Bake, it is a fat substitute made from pureed dates (I believe). You should be able to get it in the baking aisle of your grocery store.

Directions:

1. Combine flours, salt, powder, xantham and spices in a large bowl. Whisk them all together till you can’t tell what’s what.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the xylitol or sugar, vanilla, egg, molasses, and the Lighter Bake or melted butter. Mix well.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry; stir well. The mix will be fairly dry still at this point.

4. Add 1/4 c of almond milk at a time to the dough. Stir well with each addition. I found that the first time I made these, it took me 1 full cup of milk, but the second I only needed 1/2 cup. The goal here is to not have any powdery-ness left but to not have too sticky a dough either; you want it to be just moistened. (My guess is that using sugar rather than xylitol the second time meant I needed less liquid.)

5. When your dough is thoroughly mixed, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours (you can even wait a couple of days). If you want to be able to just slice them and go, wrap them in a long tube, like that store-bought dough you can just buy and bake.

6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Now comes the fun part, you can either just cut the dough into slabs or roll it out on parchment paper or a well floured (with gluten-free flour, of course; I use oat for this) surface and use cookie cutters. If your dough is too sticky, work more oat flour into it. Decorate with sprinkles, etc. if desired.

7. When you have your cookies looking the way you want them, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or one of those silicone baking sheet liners and bake them in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.

And here is how they look:

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

The finished product -- my 9yo did all the decorating, btw.

The finished product — my 9yo did all the decorating, btw.

And finally, a close up

And finally, a close up

Happy Baking!

Nebby

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