Introducing Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake by Tandy Balson

I met Tandy Balson last year through Facebook; we were both planning to attend Write Canada and looking for roommates. Although we had never met face-to-face  before June 2014, we experienced an immediate rapport because of our common beliefs and interests. (Tandy is my sister in the family of God and we are both writers.) This week I’m celebrating Tandy’s release of her newest book, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things. She has given me permission to share the following reading with you (from page 41 in the book).

Tandy cover

Spice Cake

When asked what kind of cake she’d like for her birthday, my daughter didn’t hesitate. “Spice cake with caramel frosting” was the quick reply. I happily obliged and made the cake, along with a favourite meal to take to her house the following day. She and her two oldest children have celiac disease, so I modified the recipes to make them safe and enjoyable for all.

I left the remainder of the cake with her. Being a very generous person, she shared it that night with other gluten-free friends. The next day one of them asked for the recipe. My daughter and I didn’t think twice about the recipe, but her friend was confused. You see, the recipe was a regular one from my old Betty Crocker cookbook and not a specific gluten-free recipe.

Over the years I have become quite comfortable at taking favourite recipes and adapting them to suit our changing needs. With practice this has become so successful that others don’t know of the changes. The end results are the same texture and flavour as regular recipes.

So it is with my life. I may end up with a similar result as you but don’t achieve it in the same way. There are adaptations along the way. I can maintain the integrity of my goal while learning to be flexible and adapt along the way. God guides each of us in the way we should go. Our end goal is the same, but there are many interesting ways to get there.

“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9 NIV)


Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things by Tandy Balson is now available for purchase from: ( Tandy is offering a giveway for those who purchase through her website the week of April 20-26), Friesen Press and Amazon.


Tandy Balson

Tandy is a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer and observer of life.  Her greatest joys in life are spending time with family and friends, baking (but then I have to give it away so I don’t eat it all!), spending time in nature, reading and writing.

She has been doing inspirational speaking in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan since 2001.  You can read her twice weekly blogs at

Her work has been accepted for publication in FellowScript Magazine, Testimony Magazine and The Upper Room.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my experiments with gluten-free baking, cookies have been the biggest challenge. My son can’t have gluten, wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, cashews, or almonds, due to food intolerances. However, I did run across a recipe that I only had to make one modification to (substituting sunflower butter for peanut butter), and it gets a big thumbs up from my son.




1 1/2 cups chick peas

1/2 cup sunflower butter

1/2 cup honey or agave nectar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand – free of milk, peanuts, tree nuts and soy)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Drain chick peas. Place them in a blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend until the chick peas are all mashed and you have a consistent paste. Add the sunflower butter, honey, and vanilla. Blend until the ingredients are well mixed. Remove dough from blender and place into a bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir gently until mixed. Use two teaspoons to drop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. The dough will be very sticky and the cookies will not rise much so make the cookies the size you want.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let the cookies sit for a minute before you remove them from the cookie sheet. Enjoy your soft, moist cookies!

Note: I froze the cookies to keep them fresh. Even when frozen, the cookies are soft and enjoyable to eat.



Gluten-Free Banana Blueberry Muffins

Company's Coming Gluten-free BakingThis morning I finally investigated a gift my friend, Barb, gave me several weeks ago. It was a large cloth grocery bag filled with gluten-free recipe books and ingredients. One of the books I received is pictured to the left. Ted Wolff, founder and former co-owner of Kinnikinnick Foods is the author. I made slight modifications to the Banana Blueberry Muffins recipe. My son gave the muffins an enthusiastic thumbs up as he gobbled down two. I found the texture of the muffins pleasing to the palate – no butter needed 🙂 If you have any uneaten muffins, you may freeze them.



1/3 cup honey                  1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup pea flour              1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch      2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. xanthan gum           1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup blueberries              3/4 cup oil

4 tsp. egg replacer            5 Tbsp. water

2 large, ripe bananas        1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix first 11 ingredients in an extra-large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mash the 2 bananas. Add the oil, egg replacer and vanilla. Mix well. Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until all dry mixture is wet. Add blueberries and gently mix. Drop batter into a greased muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes (original recipe says 25-30 minutes, but I found they were done after 15 minutes) or until the muffins are browned and spring back when pressed lightly. Cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pan. Enjoy 🙂

Gluten Free Recipe: Ultra-Fudge Brownies

Allergy Cookbook

Here is my favorite recipe from the past week or so. It comes from the book Food Allergy Survival Guide: Surviving and Thriving with Food Allergies and Sensitivities by Vesanto Melina, Jo Stepaniak, and Dina Aaronson.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup gluten free flour mix
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8″ square metal pan and set aside.

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and whisk together. Gradually add the wet ingredients. Stir well after each addition. Stir in the nuts.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool before cutting.  Enjoy! NOTE: These brownies are even better the next day than the day you bake them. No need to freeze them.

A New Challenge – Baking with Allergies in Mind

Mother and two children at Halloween making treats and smilingOften life sends us unexpected “curves”. This summer I’ve had a new challenge thrown my way. One of my sons has intolerances to eggs, milk, wheat, gluten, peanuts, almonds, cashews, soy, and lentils. So, I’ve been learning how to bake without wheat, gluten, eggs, or milk.

One of the best resources I’ve found to this point is Gluten Free Baking for Dummies. I especially appreciated the effort the author took to explain “regular” baking ingredients and what they do. Then she explains how to replicate those expected results with gluten free ingredients.

For those who need to avoid other ingredients, I have also discovered there are a number  of cookbooks which address cooking for allergies. Here’s a list of books I have in my library:

  • The Autism Cookbook: 101 gluten-free and dairy-free recipes by Susan K Delaine
  • Allergy Friendly Food for Families by the editors of Kiwi
  • The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.
  • Food Allergy Survival Guide by Melina, Stepaniak, and Aronson
  • The Everything Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Larsen
  • The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal

Another good resource book suggested by the naturopath nutritionist I’m working with is Coping with Food Intolerances by Dick Thom. This book explains why substances may NOT show up on allergy tests, but may still cause problems. One tip I picked up from this book was an easy substitution for eggs: 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed and 2 Tablespoons of water for each egg.

As I discover great recipes, I’ll share a few with you.