Tag Archives: food

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

9 Apr

Before I get going on my latest rant, let me just say that it is very likely that this post will directly contradict my last post. I’m noticing that my thoughts on being gluten-free are not very consistent and are directly related to how desperate I’m feeling.

There is a new gluten-free girl in town. I’m not going to mention her by name because I know she means well. And I don’t fault her for trying. It’s just that most of what she makes is not that good. Not even by gluten-free standards. And the thing is, I’ve had decent, even good gluten-free, so I know it can be done. But this post isn’t about her. It’s about me. It’s about how I never learn.

This woman, let’s call her Glinda, makes bread and pizza and pie, oh my! She makes muffins and cookies and scones. She even makes donuts. She was featured in an article in our local paper. I’d heard it all before, but still I got excited. It didn’t even dawn on me in that moment that it might be bad. It was in the paper. It was in black and white. And I was in denial as usual.

glinda

I took a friend who eats gluten every day without even noticing what she’s doing or how lucky she is, to try Glinda’s goods.  The case was full of gluten-free items. I had never had so many choices in one place. It felt good to linger over the possibilities. Would I have pizza or a sandwich? If I have a sandwich, what kind will it be? And the dessert choices, well if I were someone who gets giddy, I would have. We decided on a tuna sandwich and a cupcake to share. It looked promising as it arrived at our table. The bread was big, like a baguette and was all  brown and crunchy looking. It looked like a real sandwich. I picked it up but before I took a bite my fantasy and the bread began to fall apart. I tried to put it back together and took a bite. It was bad. Just like gluten-free bread always is. My friend tried to make the best of it. She said it wasn’t that bad. I’ve noticed my husband does this too and I have a theory, gluten-free doesn’t taste that bad when you know you aren’t condemned to eat it for the rest of your life. It just a theory.

The cupcake was meant to be a hostess cupcake, complete the with loopy white frosting design on the top and white filling in the middle. It wasn’t horrible; a little on the dense side. But the thing is, I never really liked hostess cupcakes in the first place. So the question I am now asking myself is why do I need a gluten-free version of something I don’t even miss?hostess

Two days later I went back to the same bakery. I bought an oatmeal cookie, a coconut cookie and a chocolate glazed donut, each one worse than the last. Why did I do this, you ask. I did it because I could.

 

Sushi, What’s the Point?

6 Mar

I used to love sushi. Not the raw fish sushi.  The kind that comes in a roll  covered in rice and avocado and macadamia nuts and tempura anything and sweet sauce.

Last night we ordered in from our favorite Japanese restaurant. At this point I would like to remind you (and myself) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. “I’d like a nutty shrimp” I said to the man on the other end of the phone, my voice full of regret. “But instead of tempura shrimp I will just have ebi (steamed shrimp) and a yummy yam, but instead of the tempura yam, just steamed yam, oh, and can I have those made with brown rice?”

Thirty minutes later I was dipping rolls of sticky brown rice into my wheat-free tamari and wasabi mixture, coveting the eel soaked in a sweet gluteny sauce that my husband was enjoying.  My shrimp was chewy. Have you ever noticed that shrimp on its own as no flavor whatsoever? The yam was yummy, naturally sweet. And who doesn’t love a yam wrapped in brown rice?

This morning I woke up feeling nauseous. Maybe I was unintentionally glutened.  Or maybe it was intentional.  Either way it wasn’t worth it. I’m thinking of giving up on food all together.  Can’t I just take a pill for that? I would happily go for weekly intravenous meals.

When I’m feeling blue, I sometimes call a friend, or buy a lot of shoes, or search the internet. It was too early to call anyone and my bank account is on empty so I googled.  I searched gluten-free sushi just to see what somebody else had to say on the subject.

I found one blogger extolling the virtues of sushi when dinning with friends, “… I didn’t need to do as much research upfront and I knew there would be SOMETHING I could eat (even if it was just steamed edamam). ” http://aglutenfreeguide.com/eating-sushi-is-a-gluten-free-dream.html . This made me realize I have been setting the bar a little too high. If I only had her glass-half-full attitude why I could go to any restaurant knowing that at the very least I could have a plate of lettuce.

And then this from Gluten Free: The Celiac Site

“Every celiac should develop a taste for Sushi. Consider one blogger’s  suggestion:  “Once I was diagnosed with Celiac, sushi restaurants became a haven for my gluten free dining. It’s so much easier to ask someone if they want to go for sushi than look for other gluten free friendly dining establishments. I can just grab my bottle or packets of gluten free soy sauce and head to the restaurant.”

Wow, you make it sound so fun! But wait, there’s a catch…

“Sushi is gluten free, but (as always) there are cross contamination issues. This same blogger continues: “Unfortunately eating sushi gluten free is not completely care-free and there are still things you need to be wary of in order to eat safely. Ask for your fish to be cut with clean utensils on a clean surface. The rising popularity of tempura rolls has increased the chances for cross-contamination here. Tell your server no crab unless they can assure you it’s real, most fake crab meat used in sushi rolls is made with wheat. Most roe (fish eggs) used to top sushi has wheat as an ingredient. Also, ask for no sauce, albacore sashimi usually comes with a forbidden sauce and many white fish are sprinkled with a gluten containing culprit. Eel (unagi) comes soaked in a sweet sauce that is a definite no-no. Double-check the wasabi, ginger and rice to make sure that there are no suspect ingredients.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then more joyous news:

  • Even the sesame seeds that sometimes coat sushi rolls may be mixed with a wheat product. (WTF!)
  • And the sticky rice is sometimes soaked in vinegar containing gluten.  (now that’s just mean)

First, can we just all agree that gluten-free and carefree should not be used in the same paragraph?

Second, I am never going to utter these words in a restaurant, “please make sure my fish is cut with clean utensils on a clean surface” . It’s just not going to happen.

Third, I’ll just have a large sake.

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?

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.

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…Let Me Eat Cake

29 Jan

I know, I know, I told you I was going to drink my cake from now on, but I guess I didn’t think it all the way through. Drinking a cupcake is fine once in a while and if you don’t have to be any where or do anything. But these posts don’t write themselves.  I have deadlines, I have tastings and things.

some days I really just want to eat cake. Like today. I was craving something sweet and I like to bake so I decided to make a cake. I use the term “cake” loosely. Since I am no longer allowed the pleasure or simplicity of flour, this “cake” was made from hemp seeds, you heard me right, hemp seeds, and coconut flour, yes there is such a thing, and a variety of other interesting ingredients. It wasn’t bad, in small doses, if you’re a really big fan of coconut and you have a good imagination.

the real thing

My family wouldn’t go near it so I froze most of it. Then a few days later I was craving something sweet. The only sugary thing in the house that I could eat was the coconut cake. Cravings are bad enough but when you know you can’t have the actual thing you want, desire turns to desperation and this is how I found myself sitting on the couch watching Dr. Phil (is he really a doctor?) eating frozen coconut hemp seed cake. This is what my life has come to. Somehow this whole scenario would be easier to digest if I had been devouring a frozen Sara Lee cheesecake or raw cookie dough. I can’t even binge like a normal person. But hey, I’m going to have to learn to work with what’s in front of me. And right now it’s a half-eaten, very cold, coconut hemp seed cake, and an aging bald guy with a lot to say.

Today’s Treat: A good old-fashioned, naturally gluten-free macaroon.  All of the coconut and none of the heartbreak of hempseed. Get it where you can.

Let Me Drink Cake

28 Jan

Enid brings up an excellent point in her last post, Alcohol.  A lot of alcohol is gluten-free. And a lot of alcohol can help you care less about the fact that you are gluten-free.  Now if I were an alcoholic, I would be singing the praises of gluten right now and feeling very grateful that gluten is alcohol-free. But since that is not my situation I have decided to not have my cake but to drink it instead. So the next time you (Enid) find yourself craving a moist piece of chocolate cake, hot apple pie or creamy carrot cake (do people actually crave carrot cake?) try these yummy recipes instead. You’ll find yourself coming back for seconds and signing (literally) the praises of the gluten free lifestyle!

*Chocolate Cake = Godiva Chocolate Martini

1 oz. Godiva Liqueur

1 oz. Smirnoff Vodka

Rim a martini glass with something sweet. Put ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Pour into martini glass and visualize chocolate cake.

Cupcake = Cake Martini

Cake vodka

Betty Crocker vanilla frosting

Rim a martini glass in frosting. Add sprinkles if it makes you happy. Pour ice cold “Cake” into martini glass and try not to think too much about weird it is that you’re drinking a cupcake. 

 

*Carrot Cake = Carrot Cake Martini  

1/2 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Goldshlagger or cinnamon schnapps

2 oz. Bailey’s

2 oz. Butterscotch schnapps

a few splashes of cream

ice cream

Rim a martini glass in cream cheese icing and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Add all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Put some ice cream in a bowl and eat that instead.

*Apple Pie = Appletini

1 1/2 parts vanilla liquor

1 part Belvedere Vodka

2 parts apple cider

1 tsp cinnamon

squeeze of lime

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

Shake and bake!

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*these recipes have not actually been tested by me or any one I know but they sound good, except for the carrot cake one.

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