Archive | February, 2012

This Tastes like Crap. And Such Small Portions.

29 Feb

Don’t you just hate it when you have a great idea, but it turns to crap right before your very eyes?

That’s what  happened yesterday with my husband’s oh-so-thoughtful Valentine’s Day present.  You may recall he gave me an entire year’s worth of gluten-free treats from the GFree Pantry.  Once a month, I am scheduled to receive a wonderful, inspiring cornucopia of delicious foods to make me forget I can no longer eat Devil’s Food Cake or drink bourbon.  Here’s what a sample box looks like on the website:

All bursting with g-free potential!

Here’s what arrived in the mail yesterday:

The fluffy green tissue paper obscures how very empty this box is. Just sayin'.

Eight small packets, in a large carton, surrounded by a lot of — presumably gluten-free — air.  For $23.00.  I got Caveman Crunch Mix (oddly fluffy, possibly from the space program, circa 1975); I got Caveman Chicken Jerky (more on that below).  And then, for a change of pace, I also got Paleopeople Cacao Nut Granola Clusters — which look, feel, and taste like a raisin that got stuck on the bottom of your boot during a  sandy (and possibly also muddy) hike in the rain.  At the very bottom of the box, I found a heavy block of something called a Macrobar, which is described as “A Big Picture Food”.

I can draw that picture right now, and it will not be pretty.

You may ask, “What do all these items have in common?” And I will tell you:  They are the kinds of things that, when you offer them to your children, they will say, “Mommy, please don’t make me eat that.”

Followed by, “It looks like a dog treat.”

I tried. Really I did.  I did everything I could to make the Caveman Foods Spicy BBQ Chicken Jerky seem appetizing.  Here are three tempting presentations:

Actually, the food artist for this plate was my hubby, who greeted me with this in the morning

Nothing worked.  The kids will not eat the jerky.  My husband will not eat the jerky.  I (obviously) will not eat the jerky.  Sarah, Sarah, where is our gluten-free spittoon when I need it?

But then I looked at Lulu.  And I looked at that horrible, unappetizing Spicy BBQ gluten-free meat product.

She was not enthusiastic, but she did eat it.  She is a living, breathing gluten-free spittoon.

Once upon a time, in 1987, in Marmaris Turkey, we met an Australian who didn’t like the eggplant appetizer.  He said, “This food is crappy.  And such small portions.”  That pretty much sums up my experience thus far with specialized gluten-free food products.  You want to know why I am a Gluten-Free bitch?  Look in the box.

I just cancelled my GFree Pantry subscription.  Now I’m going to go in the kitchen and eat a bag of chocolate chips.  Got the picture?

Mascara, It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.

26 Feb

Every morning  after I eat a gluten-free breakfast, I take a shower, I dry my hair and put on my face.  I learned that women put on their faces from my grandmother. (Thanks, grandma!)

Until recently I didn’t  think about whether or not my make-up was gluten-free. This is due to the fact that it has never occurred to me to eat my make-up.  But the other day, my friend Paula, (who does not have gluten issues but is lucky enough to have not one but two friends who do and therefore is gluten-sensitive) made the following comment to me in passing.  “So you might know, but I didn’t know, that there’s such a thing as gluten-free mascara.” Whew. What a relief, especially for those of us who like to munch between meals and will just grab for the first thing that’s handy.” Upon hearing this comment I decided I had better do a little research on the subject. So I googled the question “Do women sometimes eat their mascara?” Google responded with several pages of “Why women can’t put on their mascara with their mouths closed”.  Another Women’s Issue I had never considered. However upon reflection, I realized that I always open my mouth while putting on my mascara.

So once again, google unintentionally answered my question.  Obviously what happens is that while women are putting their mascara on with their mouths open, tiny particles of gluten are falling off the brush or the eyelashes and into their open mouths. Women are unknowingly being glutened* while  putting on their faces.  For those of us who may  unconsciously open our mouths while applying our make-up or forget to carry a snack with us  there are many gluten-free make-up options available.

Here’s one:

http://www.maybelline.com/

*glutened is a word I picked up while searching the internet. It was used in the following sentence: “…you may end up getting unintentionally glutened.”

Today’s  Treat:  Pure pressed mineral foundation in caramel garnished with pure pressed blush in cotton candy and topped off with a spritz of  D2O hydrating Spray.  http://janeiredale.com

The Daily Bitch… I Love a Messy Counter

22 Feb

So, as I’ve mentioned, for Valentine’s Day my husband gave me a year’s worth of gluten-free treats from the GFree Pantry.   And my mother-in-law gave me a two-pound box of See’s Candies.  To be specific, she sent me a box of Bordeaux, half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate.  Bordeaux is my favorite candy in the world.  Absolute favorite.  And no, my mother-in-law is not taking applications for additional daughters.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?   All See’s Candies are gluten-free.  Every single glorious bite, but especially (and most importantly) Bordeaux.  Yum.

Legally speaking, the See’s candy is officially for the “family”, but everyone knows that whenever chocolate enters the house, no matter what it says on the card, it is really for “me”.  For the past five days, therefore, I have been expending a lot of energy hiding the Bordeaux from the girls.  It has been all over the house — I can’t tell you more because the girls read this blog and it could limit my options later.

But tonight they found the box.  I know that because, when I came downstairs, the kitchen counter was covered with those little rice-shaped chocolate sprinkles that cover a See’s Bordeaux.  They were everywhere.  This was not surprising.  I know — from eating many, many Bordeaux myself — that it is impossible to eat a Bordeaux without sending a little snowstorm of chocolate jimmies down all around you.

My girls will happily tell you that I am a bit obsessive about clean counters, and I will agree — up to a point. I don’t fold laundry, and I don’t really unload the dishwasher, but I do believe in a nice, crumb-free counter top.  (Don’t even get me going on the glutinous crumbs issue.)  But when I came into the kitchen just now and saw all those chocolate sprinkles on the butcher block, all I felt was happy.  Happy for the girls, because I knew what they were eating right then.  And happy for me, because I knew what I was going to be eating in just one second.

My box of Pirate’s Booty and gluten-free graham crackers hasn’t arrived yet, but right now I’m eating a Bordeaux.

Bye bye for now,

Enid

Today’s Treat:  Can you guess?  I had one for breakfast, with my tea.  I had one for lunch, with whatever else I was eating (I don’t remember).  I possibly had a few around 4:00.  And now I’m having more.  If you don’t live in California and therefore don’t have a Sees Candy store nearby, you can order Bordeaux (dark or milk chocolate) by the box, online.  http://www.sees.com.  

The Daily Bitch…It’s Not the Gluten, Dummy

21 Feb

I’m not a real doctor, but I am a real bitch and I feel more than qualified to take on the subject of gluten and weight.

And, I am so tired of gluten-free weight loss stories!

  • Do people who go on a “gluten-free” diet for weight loss check every label, grill every waiter, and try desperately to find a delicious substitution for their favorite chocolate cake? Do they cry in the middle of the supermarket isle? I think not. I think they cut out bread, pasta and cake, for a couple of weeks and call it gluten-free. And guess what-they lose weight. Big surprise! It’s not the gluten, dummy,  it’s the no carbs, it’s the fewer calories.

  • Some people who have celiac disease gain weight once they give up gluten. Yup. That’s right. No, that’s wrong and so unfair.  It’s the dirty little secret about celiac disease. No one wants to talk about it.  Once that digestive system starts working again, those little cilia start standing upright again and doing their job. You start absorbing nutrients again, You start absorbing more fat.  Maybe your cholesterol goes up maybe you gain ten pounds.
  • Am I bitter? Possibly. Yes.
  • Chapter 15 of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G Free Diet; A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, is entitled G-Free and Slim as Can Be.  I would like to slap her.  Also, she’s a republican.

  • Am I bitter?  Possibly. Yes.
  • On the up side, I could eat donuts, cookies, bread and pasta and lose those ten pounds in a jiffy. It’s called the gluten diet.
  • On the down side, there’s the whole destroying my small intestine thing.
  • Oh well.

Today’s Treat: Ask Enid.

The Daily Treat….Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Roses and chocolate and pink champagne are gluten-free!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 from the GFBs

Today’s Taste Test Challange: These pink champagne cupcakes look yummy, but so did that hempseed coconut cake. If someone wants to test them for us we would be oh so happy!

http://www.theculinarylife.com/2009/gluten-free-champagne-cupcakes/

I’m taking the day off from bitching.

14 Feb

Romance in a box.  Over the past 20 plus years, my husband and I have shared many lovely Valentine’s Days.  There was red wine.  There was chocolate (there was a lot of chocolate).  There was some lingerie.  There have been vases full of red roses. But this year takes the cake (pun intended).  What did he give me to celebrate our love today?  A year full of gluten-free treats.

That’s right.  Over the past few months, he’s been right there at my side, as I snivel and scowl through the supermarket, and our favorite Thai restaurant (“chicken satay with no sauce, please”), and Christmas (no persimmon pudding, no french toast, no Yorkshire pudding, yuck).  He even offered to go gluten-free with me, which I completed rejected.   I mean, really, it’s bad enough that I have to give up hamburgers; should he have to do it, too?

Basically, he has been a champ.  And now, on this day of love and romance, he comes through with the box of Pirate’s Booty, Glutino Pretzels, and Macrobars.  Plus — as he gleefully informed me when he got home from work tonight —this Valentine’s gift is deductible as a business expense!  Ahh… the romance of it.

It’s not too late.  If you are reading this blog as a way to support your Celiac Loved One, you can still go online and join the Gluten Free Tasting Club.  Or…possibly less emotionally complicated, you can buy it for yourself.  Here’s the link:  http://www.gfreepantry.com.  And here’s what they say:

GFreePantry makes gluten free dieting simple. Stop scouring the aisles for certified gluten free snacks. Subscribe to the gluten free tasting club and discover new tasty gluten free snacks each month. Discover your next favorite snack, learn a new recipe, share your own gluten free recipes with the GFree world.

I’ll keep you posted on what comes in the box, and whether  it tastes like… the box.

Bye bye for now,

Enid

Daily Treat:  Dinner out with my thoughtful hubby, where I will eat something gluten-free and (hopefully) good.  I know there will be a gluten-free choice on the prix-fixe menu because I called the restaurant in advance and asked.  Now, is that brutal or what?  Now I have to call ahead before I go on our romantic dinner.

The Daily Bitch…Gluten Invades the Bedroom.

11 Feb

Last night I had a dream about cheese.  And when I say dream, what I really mean is “nightmare.”  There I was in my kitchen (as I often am), rooting around the cheese drawer (as I often do), and I discovered that my go-to cheese, Fromager d’Affinois, had gluten in it.  It said it right there on the label, in teeny tiny letters that I could barely read.  In fact, in my dream I had to go get my glasses because the print was so small that no normal person could ever hope to read it.

Of course, I had a complete breakdown right there in front of the fridge.  For the past three months – as I have been getting used to all the deprivation associated with celiac – I have had to console myself with something, and what has that something been?  Cheese.  Now my consolation was gone.  All my efforts to be gluten-free were for nought.  Three months of no bread, no cake, no bourbon, and now this?  Betrayed by brie?

It was a very bad dream.

Ahh... cheese. So gluten-free and yet so naughty.

But then I woke up and, even though it was only five a.m., I went right downstairs and Googled “cheese gluten free”.  I was pretty sure cheese is okay, but I just had to know.  Oh, I just love the Internet.  By 5:05 I knew I was home free.  With the exception of some blue cheeses, cheese is definitely gluten-free.  There’s a great website called CeliacCentral that answers questions like this.  You can see the post on cheese right here: http://www.celiaccentral.org/ask-the-dietitian/is-brie-cheese-gluten-free/pg–1/.

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you’ve probably noticed how much Sarah and I think about those two pillars of gluten-free gastronomy: chocolate and liquor But cheese plays a pretty major role, too.   It is salty.  It has great mouth feel — smooth and soft, or hard and crumbly, or even a bit grainy (like a great parmesan).  It is oozing with umami, that great taste best defined as “savoriness”.  It lends a certain, I don’t know, heft to your meal, and when you’ve given up on farro, and whole wheat bread, and basically everything good, you need a bit of umami to get you through the day. (If you’re not in the mood for chocolate, that is.)

Don’t get me wrong. Given the choice, I would love to smear my brie, my camembert, my soft blue cheese on a crusty baguette, but in a pinch I’m perfectly happy to eat it on a slice of apple.  Or a (gasp) gluten-free cracker.  Or my finger.  Anything, really.

It’s nice to know I’m not going to have to give up Humboldt Fog anytime soon.  

Bye Bye for now,

Enid

Daily Treat:  Scrumptious cheese plate with Honeycrisp apple slices and Mary’s Gone Crackers.  If you don’t love your local cheese shop, try Murray’s Cheese online, at www.murrayscheese.com.  You can find Mary’s Gone Crackers gluten-free crackers at your local market or online. I like the original flavor, but they are all (surprisingly) good.  www.marysgonecrackers.com.

The Daily Bitch…I Was Born This Way

9 Feb

Lady Gaga

The other day I happened upon a conversation between a gluten-free woman, her husband, and a young shopkeeper.  I had literally just finished a meeting with Enid about launching this blog, so it was very serendipitous. This gluten-freer was in the middle of explaining how annoying it is for people who can’t have gluten to be put in the same boat with people who won’t have gluten.  I don’t know how they got on the subject. I can only assume that the gluten-freer, like so many marginalized and slightly bitter people, wanted to be heard, validated, and perhaps *pitied just a little bit. I imagine she worked it into the conversation as smoothly as butter on a nice warm piece of bread (the kind with gluten).

I listened for a few minutes and considered walking out of the store. But then I asked myself  what would a gluten-free bitch do-would she walk away? I think not.  I think she would belly up to the bar, make some new gluten-free friends, spread the news about her blog  and make sure that shopkeeper never asked a customer how they were doing ever again.  So that’s what I did.  Also, I saw a really cute dress I wanted to try on.

And yes! It is so annoying to hear about people like Gwyneth Paltrow who choose to be gluten-free.  They give the rest of us a bad name. Like in a restaurant for instance, asking about every ingredient, explaining what gluten is, seeing the glazed or annoyed look in the waitresses eyes.  You don’t really want to have to say, “I’m not doing this  because I want to look like Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s just that if I eat even one crumb of gluten my immune system will go all crazy on my small intestine and start destroying my cilia [cut to horrified waitress].

Also, I do not:

  • have a personal chef (which would possibly make up for the whole celiac thing)
  • already have years of veganism under my belt
  • spend 4 hours a day doing Pilates
  • have a ton of money to spend on whatever I want to make up for the fact that I can’t eat bread (I’m not saying she does this I’m just saying she could if she wanted to)

So what is my point?   I didn’t choose this “lifestyle”   I WAS BORN THIS WAY

So what are my other points?

  1. I hate to cook
  2. I like eating animals and things that come from animals
  3. I’m not good at Pilates
  4. I have a shopping problem

Todays Treat: A new dress  (retail therapy, it’s more expensive than psychotherapy but just as fun.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Pity and especially self-pity has gotten a bad rap. Sometimes a girl (or a guy) just has to wallow for a while.  Look for my Pity Party Planner, coming to  a blog near you soon!

The Daily Bitch… Celiac. It’s a Good Thing: The Final Frontier.

3 Feb

Time to wrap up the list.  If blog posts didn’t have to be so short (because we all have the attention spans of fleas), I would have put them all in one piece. But that would require scrolling down, and apparently no one does that.  In fact, I don’t even do that.  If I don’t see something gripping on my screen the instant I arrive at a new site, I just click on something else.  And people used to read multi-volume novels.  Go figure.

Anyway, here are the last, the best, the most glorious reasons why it’s great to be diagnosed with celiac.  Read it and weep.

  1. There’s never been a better time to go gluten-free.  As everyone is quick to remind me, I have entered the gluten-free world just when it has gone mainstream.  Everywhere I go, I see gluten-free products: gluten-free beer, gluten-free corn flakes, gluten-free cheese (although you’ve got to ask yourself, who puts wheat into cheese in the first place, and why?).  Plus, I live in Santa Cruz, where they serve quinoa salad at my kids’ school, and there is actually a store called the Herb Room where they sell nothing but herbs and seeds.  But when you come right down to it, how am I benefiting from the wide availability of gluten-free products, when the fact is most of them taste absolutely awful?  It means that when I go to buy a bag of cookies, there are loads and loads of really horrible gluten-free cookies for me to choose from.  It may be a mitigating factor, but really – does it make me lucky?  I think not.

    I really love cinnamon toast. The yeasty, wheat-y kind.

  1. Eating gluten-free means I’m going to lose a bunch of weight.  Oh, I so wanted this to be true.  It made sense logically (cut out baked goods, and you will get skinnier) and, even more important, it made sense cosmically (give up all the joys of eating, and you will be compensated).   And it might be true for some people, like good old Gwyneth Paltrow and tennis star Novak Djokovic, who go gluten-free for fun.  But guess what, folks?  If you have celiac and go gluten-free you are likely to gain weight, not lose it. I know I have.  That’s right – I gave up chocolate cake, cinnamon toast, and pasta primavera, and I put on the pounds Lucky, lucky me.

The fact is, I’m not happy I have celiac and I’m not enjoying my brand new, incredibly restrictive diet.  That’s why they call me a gluten-free bitch.

Hey look! In addition to the delightful lemon drop, everything else on the table is gluten-free too! Wait... that's water and salt and pepper. Lucky me.

Today’s Treat: Big fat Lemon Drop.  Because lemon juice is gluten-free.  And so is vodka.

Bye-bye for now,

Enid

The Daily Bitch… Celiac. It’s a Good Thing. Part Two!!

2 Feb

Hi Again,

Yesterday we got to feel happy that we actually KNOW we have celiac, instead of just wondering. That’s the first reason why having celiac is “a good thing.” I promised you five more reasons, and here they are. Three today; two tomorrow.

2. I don’t have cancer, or something worse than cancer. This is a real one. No matter how much I bitch about going gluten-free, I really do understand how fortunate I am in this respect. I am so fortunate that I really shouldn’t even put this on the list, number one because I am very superstitious and number two because I would never want to seem disrespectful of people fighting cancer. But the fact is, I didn’t have cancer last year either, and last year I could eat lasagna.

Lasagna. Yeah I could make it at home with g-f noodles, and I probably will. But it won't look like this.

3.I can manage my disease with diet, rather than medication. This is what I hear from my friends who drink kale smoothies instead of taking vitamins. But I’m not sure they really understand what that trade-off means, and I actually do. I’ve had Hashimoto’s (which is a thyroid condition) for almost 20 years, and you treat Hashimoto’s with medicine. The minute I wake up, I have to roll over and take my pills. Then I have to wait for at least 30 minutes before I can eat or drink anything else. This is a little bit of a pain because it means my husband can’t awaken me with a nice hot cup of tea, and I can’t run down to the kitchen and gobble up an egg before I drive the kids to school. But let me tell you, having to wait a half an hour for my cranberry orange scone is nothing compared to never having a good scone ever again. Ever. Ask anyone with celiac: would you rather take a daily pill and eat whatever you want, or spend the rest of your life eating sorghum muffins? I think you know the answer.

This is a sorghum muffin. 'Nuff said.

4. I am asymptomatic. Now really, which way does this cut? I feel just fine when I eat a normal diet, but because some doctor got a crazy idea and snipped off a bit of my small intestine, now I have to give up doughnuts and Yorkshire pudding? Am I luckier than a celiac patient with terrible symptoms? Or are we both just screwed?

I’ll finish the list up tomorrow. But meanwhile let us rejoice that — in addition to all these high-concept reasons you and I should be gluten-free and glad – both chocolate and wine are naturally gluten-free.

Today’s Treat: See’s Candy. Every single piece of See’s Candy is gluten-free. I like a Bordeaux (milk or dark chocolate, I’m not picky) with a nice glass of Pinot Noir. Yum. Sometimes I have a molasses chip for breakfast, but then I skip the vino. Really I do. http://www.sees.com.

Bye-bye for now,

Enid

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