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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

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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

The Daily Bitch…. Celiac. It’s a Good Thing. Six Reasons for Gluten-Free Rejoicing.

1 Feb

Ever since I was diagnosed with celiac, everyone has been telling me how great it is that I’m going gluten-free.  They bring me gluten-free muffins and send me links to new recipes for cornbread and piecrust.  They’re waiting for me to embrace my new reality, and I want to be grateful, really I do.  But try as I might, I still haven’t discovered the upside of giving up gluten.  Maybe I’ll get there, but right now I’m working on making it through my errands without having a mini-breakdown.

For example, today I really felt like making angel food cake with chocolate frosting.  It’s a favorite of mine.  But angel food cake is all about fluffy, airy stretchiness and, as we all know, if you want a cake like that, you need gluten.  So when I walked down the aisle with the angel food cake mixes (okay, I don’t bake this from scratch – shoot me), I had to put on my dark glasses so all the other shoppers wouldn’t think I was going through a bad divorce.  Yesterday was similar, except yesterday I was fantasizing about chicken pot pie with a buttermilk biscuit crust.  Different aisle, same sunglasses.

Angel food cake.

You think I’m exaggerating, and I wish I were.  I’m not proud of my obsessive focus on food, or my inability to recognize – no matter how often I’m told – how fortunate I am to be eating the same diet as Gwyneth Paltrow.  I’ve been working on a little list of reasons I should be grateful I’m gluten-free, a list I can pull out every time I start to feel pissed off about never, ever again taking bite of sourdough bread without feeling guilty.

In case you ever start feeling sad about having celiac disease, I will share my list with you.  I’ll give you a sneak peek right now, of just the first reason.  Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll tell you the rest.  Then you, too, will be able to look on the bright side of gluten-free. In a world without angel food cake, you need a nice list every now and again.

How lucky am I to have celiac? Let me count the ways…

  1. I’ve been diagnosed!  A lot of people with celiac go to doctor after doctor trying to figure out why they feel so lousy, only to be misdiagnosed or told it’s all in their head.  So, and this is what my doctor says, how wonderful that I know for sure I have celiac.  But here’s the thing: I got my diagnosis out of the blue, when I felt just fine.  What would you rather do: feel fine and eat whatever you want, or feel fine and order “grilled chicken, no sauce,” when you go out for Thai food? I know it’s wrong, but in this case I would definitely go for blissful, glutinous ignorance.

Tune in tomorrow for more reasons to be glad you’ve got celiac.   Woo hoo.  Really.

Today’s Treat:  Black Salt Caramel Bar, by Vosges.  It is ridiculously expensive, so expensive I am too ashamed to tell you how much it costs.  I hide the bar in my desk and my daughters find it.  Then we have a little fight about how to divide it up.  Then I go back to the store the next day and buy another one.  It’s better than Oxycontin (not that I would know). www.vosgeschocolate.com, but I buy them at Whole Foods and New Leaf in Santa Cruz.  BTW – Vosges sells gluten-free truffles, too.  And yet they don’t identify my favorite candy bar as “gluten-free.”  Which makes me wonder….  But not enough to do anything about it.

Black Salt Caramel Bar, hiding with the flashcards.

Bye-bye for now,

Enid

But to be nice for just a minute… First things first.

30 Jan

When I told the kids I had to go gluten-free, one of their first questions was, “What about the pancakes??”

We’re big into breakfast around here, and when we have something besides eggs it is usually pancakes.  Baba’s cottage cheese pancakes.  Baba is my mother.  Her pancakes are amazing, very high in protein (you’ll see), and just basically perfect in every way.  Light like a crepe, but toothsome, and a bit sour (again like a crepe, or like a very smooth sourdough pancake).

So, within 48 hours of getting the dreaded diagnosis, there I was, mixing up a test batch of pancakes with my new g-f flour mix, hoping against hope that they would taste at least okay.

And here’s the good part:  they taste just the same as when I made them with wheat flour. 

Moment of surpassing joy.   Let’s all pause and enjoy it, because since I’ve gone gluten-free those moments don’t happen too often, at least not in reference to food.

Baba's Cottage Cheese Pancakes, after two Margaritas! Did I mention they're good for dinner, too??

So, even though you aren’t going to see a lot of recipes on this blog, in this case I’m going to make an exception.  I hope you enjoy them!

Baba’s Cottage Cheese Pancakes 

8 extra large eggs

2 cups (16 oz) small curd cottage cheese  (one medium container)

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons oil (I use melted coconut oil, but canola works fine too)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup  gluten-free flour (see my favorite concoction, below)

To Do:  Add all ingredients to the large bowl of your food processor.  Blend well (until you don’t see any more curds).  Melt butter on the griddle and cook as any other pancake recipe.  Finished pancakes should be about 3 inches in diameter.

Serves 4.

My friend Terry, who is a gluten-free chef, came running to my rescue right after my diagnosis.   I’ll talk more about her later.  But for now, here is her gluten-free flour mix:

Terry’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix

½ cup rice flour (white or brown – I use white)

¼ cup tapioca flour

¼ cup corn starch

 

Mix it up – and do a good job, because this stuff won’t work if it isn’t blended.  Then put it in a jar. Presto – you’re a gluten-free baker!

Today’s Treat:  I went out to lunch in Los Gatos today with my friend Allison, and because she is so wonderful she asked the waiter if they had any gluten-free desserts. And they did!  So my treat today was pomegranate panna cotta on an almond meringue crust.  Delish!  Go have some yourself (and share the ridiculously priced but fabulous Steak Cobb Salad with a friend.)  www.steamers-restaurant.com.

Bye-bye for now,

Enid

The Daily Bitch… Goodbye to all that.

27 Jan

Here are two things I’ve been meaning to do: 

Learn to make a perfect, killer, fluffy, rich chocolate cake, and become the kind of woman who is always pulling a loaf of gorgeously rustic, crusty-yet-tender homemade bread out of her oven.

I was waiting to learn both of those skills until I had a little bit more time, until my children were in college, until I found the right friend, or book, or teacher.  Sometimes I would fantasize about learning to bake these things, and I would see myself  (a thinner, wiser, more beautiful and evolved version of me, wearing a cute apron) standing in my kitchen admiring the perfect cake or bread I had just produced.

Yep. Look at that beautiful, crusty bread.

I have aunts and cousins and friends who bake cake and bread frequently and well. Just as I have friends and relations who run marathons, keep immaculate homes, and curl their eyelashes.  I would like to be a tidy, wide-eyed long distance runner too, but what I really focused on during my fantasies was the cake and the bread.  Tall, fluffy, toothsome cakes and breads.  Yum.

But now it’s too late. 

While I was busy in my dream state, planning all those delicacies, cutting out all those recipes, creating files for them, reading New York Times articles about the new, fool-proof bread-making method, so easy that even a child could make it, my body was busy screwing me over.  Silently.  I was trying to decide whether I wanted to begin with a francese or a sourdough, and wondering if Cousin Wendy would give me some of her twenty-year-old starter, while unbeknownst to me the cilia in my intestines were lying down and playing dead.

I guess that’s what they mean by Carpe Diem.  All the time I was supposed to be seizing, all I was doing was dreaming.  Now I am a celiac person (I really don’t like that whole “patient” thing), and my reality is gluten-free.

At least there are cocktails.

Today’s Treat:  Lillet blanc on the rocks, with a tangerine twist.  Dark chocolate-covered almonds for dessert.  www.lillet.com (I buy it at Whole Foods); http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/954 (almonds available online, at Whole Foods near you, or at Trader Joes).

Bye-bye for now,

Enid

The Daily Bitch…. You’re Telling Me!

25 Jan

 How I found out…

It came in the mail.  I thought it was a doctor’s bill (God knows between me, my husband, and the three kids we rack up the medical expenses).  Instead it was a test result.  One line.  “You test positive for celiac disease.”

And I said — to myself since I was the only one in the kitchen — “What in the hell is celiac?”  Then, since we’re living in the Information Age, I went directly to Google and looked it up.

It was that obnoxious doctor who ordered the test, the one who never looked me in the eye, just kept tapping on the keyboard and sent me to the lab for ten tubes of blood tests.  There was no reason for him to order some assessment for some disease I’d never heard of, wasn’t symptomatic for, and didn’t (don’t!) want to have.

I needed a celiac diagnosis like a car crash.  A car crash that happens on a Wednesday, then keeps happening every time you sit down to a meal for as long as you live.

Perhaps I’m exaggerating.  But just a little bit.  Celiac means giving up gluten, by which I mean wheat, by which I mean cake and bread and muffins and flakey piecrust.  You know… everything fluffy and crispy and stretchy and delicious that you can ever imagine.

Humankind reveres gluten.

From the Bible to the ancient world to Shakespeare, to Marie Antoinette, it’s all they talk about.

Bread and circuses.   That’s what the Romans said the masses love.  I love that.  Sourdough bread and a lady in a spangly dress balancing on the back of a horse.  Yay!

Bread and wine.  Yum.  Francese with fresh olive oil and a glass of pinot noir.  Have I anchored a hundred dinners just that way? Yes I have.

Let them eat cake.  Let ME eat cake.

You get the idea.  The truth is, the first thing I did after my diagnosis was finally confirmed (biopsy, genetic testing, the whole enchilada) was go out and buy myself a “farewell cake”.  I’m posting a picture of it here.  Boy was it good.   Everyone sang “Happy Gluten to You”, then I ate a big piece.  I’ll tell you another day what happened next.

The Best Chocolate Cake in the World. Loaded with gluten, but Oh Baby!! http://www.butterybakery.com

Here are some things I love to do:

1.  Go to the market and buy delicious things. Scrumptious ingredients to bring home and bake.  Delicious cookies and crackers and toffee almonds and cranberry almond loaf and everything else I might see, and want, on the grocery shelves.  It’s like going to a jewelry store.  I adore the market!  I go every day.  I like to do it that way because – really? – how do you know what you’ll want to eat for dinner until you get there and see what looks good?

Now I go to the market in dark glasses because sometimes I start to cry in the bakery section.

2.  Go out to eat.  I love to see what someone else — a chef — thought of making.  I love the whole menu.  I love the surprise!

I can't understand all the words, but I still want to try every dish.

I like to pick what I eat, then taste everyone else’s food, too.  We are big sharers in my family; when we eat out, there is a veritable dance of forks in the middle of the table as we bob and weave, spearing bites of buttermilk fried chicken and pumpkin ravioli off each others’ plates.

I do not like to pick the one gluten-free thing out of 12 – and let’s be honest, most of the time it’s a grilled fish – and just order that.  With no sauce and no sharing.

Not that I don’t like fish — I do.  I just want to choose the fish, instead of settling for it.

Almost done, now!

Sarah and I may do our fair share of complaining on this site, but we do – sometimes – like to look on the bright side.  So, every time I post I am going to let you, our faithful readers, know about at least one thing I ate recently that was both (1) delicious and (2) gluten-free.  Because, even though that class of foods is very, very small… it does exist!

So, here’s my first daily offering.  I hope you like it!

Today’s Treat:  Chocolate macaroons with Orange Dulce tea. I’m so happy that, even when you put milk and sugar in it (and I always do), tea is always gluten-free.  http://www.macaronstore.com/Chocolate-Macaron-12-Pack.html; http://www.mightyleaf.com/product/orange-dulce-black-tea-pouches/.

Bye-bye for now (isn’t that what the bitchy popular girls say?),

Enid

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