Many of us have heroes that have changed our lives for the better. One of my heroes has long been the Gluten Free baking pioneer, Bette Hagman. As many of you know, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of three, so most of my food memories are gluten free. I grew up on Ener-g Foods bread (toasted) and Ener-g foods cookies (yuck), due in part to being a Seattle girl living near the Ener-g foods factory. Let’s face it, food was pretty bland and boring back then. My favorite foods were Vanilla Ice Cream, Potato Salad, and pizza made with Ener-g Foods pizza crusts. Bleak, right? Then when I was in college, one of my dearest friends came to visit me- an artistic soul who baked me a beautiful gluten free pie and gave me a cookbook written by this “Gluten Free Gourmet,” Bette Hagman. Previously my idea of baking was gluten free Muffins from a Fearn brown rice mix or Ener-g Foods mix (don’t ask. Trust me, you don’t want any.) “More from the Gluten Free Gourmet” was a hardback cookbook (impressive in my college poverty) with recipes for all these things I had never imagined that I could make. Crumpets, Pizza, yeast bread- it was all in there, with clear, easy to follow directions. The most miraculous thing was that when I started making those recipes, they actually worked, and I found myself creating all these delicious things successfully- even yeast bread! I had never imagined that gluten free bread could taste so good, and my discovery was entirely thanks to Bette Hagman. I immediately felt a kinship with the kindly looking lady depicted in photographs of her books that lived in my home state of Washington. And every time I made something that turned out well from her books, I felt so proud and grateful to her for essentially teaching me how to bake gluten free gods. I stopped ordering prepared things from Ener-g foods, used my last sealed, antiseptic loaf of bread from Ener-g Foods for stuffing, and started baking my own gluten free bread on a weekly basis. As my cooking skills developed, so did Bette Hagman’s inventiveness. Each successive cookbook experimented with new and different flours that radically improved on the pure rice flour blends that I used to use. I developed my own versions of recipes like her “Rapid Rise French Bread” and incorporated them into my party menus, even daring to serve them to very appreciative gluten consuming guests. Thanks to Bette not only was I able to radically improve my own gluten free diet, but I was able to show people that the gluten free diet can be every bit as delicious as a gluten based diet, which made me feel wonderful. Sometimes you admire people for years (in my case, 11 years), but never find a way to express to them your gratitude or appreciation for those efforts.
Recently, I was saddened to read a note written by the executive director of the Gluten Intolerance GroupÂ®, also known as GIGÂ®, Cynthia Kupper, explaining that Bette Hagman was seriously ill and asking for our best wishes for her family and Bette herself. The Gluten Intolerance Group wanted Bette to know that her work on the behalf of the gluten free community had not been forgotten and to know that she has made a difference in pioneering Gluten Free baking. As soon as I read this, I immediately wanted to send flowers, or a fruit basket, or something, to this wonderful lady, Bette Hagman, who did so much to change all of our Gluten Free lives for the better. Suddenly these two ideas fused together, and I thought of how cool it would be if we, the blogging gluten free community, sent Bette a card with photos of her food that all of us had made. The next day, before I could act on my idea, I found out from the director of the GIG, Cynthia Kupper, that Bette Hagman had passed away quietly in her home. When I heard this sad news, I felt even more that I needed to do something at last to express my appreciation for Bette. So many of us in the Gluten free community have benefited from Bette Hagman’s cookbooks that taught us that Gluten free COULD really be Gourmet, and that we could ourselves become Gluten Free Gourmets. Even though we can no longer send Bette a card, I would still like to take this time to do something as a group in Bette’s honor, and let everyone know that Bette may be gone, but she will never be forgotten and her legacy will continue.
Here’s my idea.
Bette Hagman, a pioneer of Gluten Free baking and the author of the “Gluten Free Gourmet” cookbooks passed away around the 17th of August. Bette Hagman was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a disease requiring a gluten free diet free of wheat, rye, oats and barley, more than twenty-five years ago. She wrote six cookbooks, each offering a multitude of delicious wheat- and gluten-free recipesâ€”what she called a â€œprescription for living.â€ She was a writer, lecturer, and twenty-five-year member of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and lived in Seattle and transformed the diets of many of us who are gluten intolerant.
I would like to propose over the next two weeks from August 20th to September 3rd that we all bake something from one of Bette Hagman’s cookbooks, and take a really beautiful photo of the baked good that we produce. I would like to think of each photo as a flower bouquet honoring Bette Hagman, and so include at least one beautiful flower (and possibly a flower bouquet) in the background of your photo or placed on the baked good like the photo I posted here. Post your photo on your blog along with a short (one or two line) note on the impact Bette Hagman had on your life and comment here with the link or email it to me at . Please download the “Baked in Honor” tag and post it along with your post. If you feel comfortable doing so, include a wallet sized photograph of yourself in the post or email. If you don’t have a blog, that’s ok, just send me the photo(s) and your message. Please size your photo to be about the same size as the photo posted here. I will personally take these photos to Kinkos, create a poster/card of some kind with the images and our personal messages, and mail them to the Gluten Intolerance Group, in care of Cynthia Kupper, so that she may deliver the card to Bette’s daughter. I will also do a roundup on this site with all the photos. I would really love for Bette Hagman’s family to know how many of our lives Bette touched with her cookbooks. Please help me make this event a wonderful success for a wonderful lady, Bette Hagman, the one and only true Gluten Free Gourmet.
Other blogs commenting on this sad event:
*Thanks to Erin of Gluten-Free Fun for creating the lovely ‘Baked in Honor of Bette Hagman’ tag. I am absolutely thrilled at the response from those in the gluten free community and all the offers of help. Thank you, all! Now, let’s get baking!*
Our tribute was completed, posted, and mailed to Bette’s daughter. You can view the Tribute Online, here.