Sunday, December 12, 2010
I will return to Celiac by Marriage eventually. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience and attention.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
My mother always keeps baked goods next to the refrigerator, and when she expects a full house (like this weekend) to say that she overstocks is like saying that Stalin held a grudge. Literally, piles of bread, cookies, cake and pie teeter crazily in big gluteny heaps on the counter. She's even purchased a special shelf so that she can build a two-floor townhouse of sugar, flour and chocolate to feed her family.
Don't get me wrong. While she tends to overcook the sugar cookies I love her pumpkin bread, scones and Texas sheet cake -- all of which were in attendance this weekend.
But I spent the entire weekend like a sleeper who is afraid she'll miss an early-morning interview, drowsing but waking up suddenly every fifteen seconds. I was truly slightly terrified to see all of that wheat, undifferentiated and exposed to air. I almost stopped people from using one knife on all breads. I almost scrubbed down counters when someone cut bread on the granite itself (without a specific gluten cutting board). I almost read the nutrition label on everything we bought. I almost refused to share plates of crackers and cheese.
It was lovely to eat wheat without constant analysis and suspicion. But it taught me two things:
1. It's not a bad thing to think deeply about your food. Without that kind of reflection, you swallow meals without appreciation for the time and effort that went into creating them, and without considering whether or not you actually need the nutrition. Result: 2.5 lbs.
2. The guilt is overwhelming. When JFG picked me up at the airport, I felt like I needed to confess. He laughed but had to be disappointed, especially since he'd DVRed Glee and saved it so we could watch together. Can you sweat gluten in your sleep?
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Crusty bread is the holy grail, North Pole, the comfortable 4-inch heel, the low-calorie cheesecake (that doesn't taste like cottage cheese), the Design Within Reach that really is within reach of the gluten-free food world. I don't know if Shackleton or Hillary welcomed other explorers into their quests, but I certainly can't be . . . well . . . that picky. First, I don't have the patience. Second, I don't have million-dollar backers.
So I was glad to hear that a local company was taking a stab at the quandary of crusty gluten-free bread. The company's still nameless, but Lacy Gillham and Jan Taborsky gave JFG a loaf to try.
I'll be honest. That loaf, while a little less crumbly and stiff than most gluten-free bread and with slightly more taste, didn't really represent much of a break-through for the celiac world.
Then one Sunday afternoon, while we were napping, a second loaf came flying through Murray's doggy door and landed on the kitchen floor. An unconventional method of delivery, yes. But you know what? It was fairly crusty. It had a taste of its own, and it held together for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little spongy, as bread should be and, while it still wasn't "tearable," I was able to feed JFG bread and Nutella for the first time in several years.
I would love to tell you what the bread is called and where to get it. I can't -- although from their promotional materials it looks like we can expect to see them at Salem Saturday Market sometime soon. I can post a couple of photos, left (as you can see, we've reached the end of the bread), and give you an email address: email@example.com. I'm not suggesting that evolution of gluten-free bread should stop -- this version is still pretty dense and, um, durable. But I can certainly respect and recommend a very worthy fellow traveler.
Monday, October 4, 2010
When JFG and I were first married, I learned how to make pita. I can't remember precisely why, but it seems like we made pita every week for months and months at a time. In fact, it's one of only two recipes I have completely memorized.
Last night, I tried to make Moosewood Cookbook (circa 1992) pita using Gluten-Free Creations Basic Flour Mix.
First of all, the dough didn't rise. Always a bad sign, especially when I'm using brand new yeast.
Second, it was as tough as old chewing gum -- the kind of dough that wears your arms out to roll. I actually abandoned rolling after a couple of goes and simply beat the dough to death with the palm of my hand.
Finally, it didn't puff up. Now, I can be flexible. I have often made un-puffy pitas by accident and simply announced that were having flatbread instead. Flatbread or pitas -- they're both really just sauce and meat vehicles anyway, hmmm?
But these were really flat. They had the consistency of dried-out, cracked old leather on the outside and were underbaked on the inside. JFG ate them anyway, bless him, but I think that's just because it was the only way to get the lamb and cucumber-dill sauce to his mouth.
Fear not! I have identified a new recipe and shall try again soon.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Believe me, after a few tries at bread made with grains other than wheat, I can see why producing wheat made or broke societies. Non-wheat bread requires at least air-tight packaging, access to several types of flours at once, and cold storage to stabilize the prepared bread. Difficult now, impossible 5,000 years ago.
Unable to consign myself to failure, however, I've continued my search for decent gluten-free bread. This week, I tried Gluten-Free Pantry's French Bread & Pizza. I basically followed the "oven method" instructions on the back of the box, using milk and vegetable oil. But I added about about a tablespoon and a half of crushed rosemary and about two tablespoons of garlic.
I spread the dough in a pie plate to make focaccia (instead of proper french bread or pizza crust), left it to rise for 40 minutes in a warm oven, and based it for 45 minutes. In the end, I had steamy, fairly crusty bread that sounded hollow when tapped.
In fairness, it maintained many of the qualities of other types of gluten-free bread. It was more crumbly than chewy, impossible to tear and it dried out fairly quickly, although it tasted great and, if consumed in the first 24 hours, would have made good sandwich bread. Next time, I'll add more rosemary, garlic and possibly some parmesan cheese -- like most gluten-free foods, the taste has to come from the added ingredients and not from the bread itself. But I'll give it points for ease and a slightly softer texture than other products.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Back to the book, Betty Crocker's Ultimate Cake Mix Cook Book. The premise is that it's possible to make a cake mix (good heavens) into a dessert that appears to require actual skill. Having it on my shelves is almost as humiliating as setting out a coffee table book of pornography.
But you cannot beat the German Chocolate Bars. Not only are they terrific, they're easy, successful every time, store well and almost never stick to the pan. They're my go-to dessert in a pinch, and only require chocolate cake mix, German chocolate frosting, chocolate chips, butter and milk.
Naturally, JFG loves them. But until Betty Crocker starting producing gluten-free mixes, it was impossible to get the algorithm right. It still takes some fiddling, as the gluten-free chocolate cake mix only makes an 8x8 inch (thick) or 9x9 inch (thin) cake. So, use the recipe at the link but make the following substitutions:
-- Use half a cup of butter instead of 2/3
-- Use 1/8 of a cup of milk
-- Use 3/4 of the container of coconut pecan frosting (and only use Betty Crocker frosting -- it's gluten-free)
And to spread the cake batter, do it with very wet hands. Keep a close eye on the pan in the oven and remove it as soon as the top is dry to the touch. Also note that, like most other gluten-free desserts, this needs to stay in the fridge.
But make sure you keep this our secret. I'd rather people think that the bars are some mysterious form of alchemy that only I know.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Say what you will about Disneyland Chinese food, but you have to appreciate P.F. Chang's ubiquitous and reliable gluten-free menu. Eugene, Portland, Sacramento -- when in doubt and exhausted by the gluten negotiation we usually experience in other restaurant, P.F. Changs provides unimaginative and geographically non-specific but safe gluten-free food. And the serving staff is almost always reasonably knowledgeable about food preparation precautions, to the point of bringing a separate plate of sauces for the celiac at the table.
I must especially praise the flourless chocolate dome (or, as our most recent waiter termed it, the "big ball of chocolate"). Dense, deep and covered with berries, it was delicious. Yes, it was just about the only gluten-free dessert option, but it was really the only one we needed!
Adventurous? No. Sophisticated? Only to people who buy faux-aged Chinese statues at Pier One Imports. Comfortable? You bet.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Great Harvest Bread Company near my office sent an email out on Monday announcing that it was now serving gluten-free white bread and gluten-free cheddar and garlic bread. I was thrilled. To date they've only made gluten-free versions of their really seedy breads like Dakota, which JFG will not eat. As a result, my family's one option for really good gluten-free bread vanished like, well, the loaf of Great Harvest Bread we donated to the women's softball team last year.
But white bread? And -- even better -- cheddar garlic bread? Now, I thought, we're in business. I had visions of sandwiches. And bread with salads. And toast. How beautiful.
Today, I returned to the email to find out the baking schedule for these luxuries, and happened to scroll to the bottom of the page. That's where I saw it.
"Please note that we are a whole wheat bakery, therefore; this product is not recommended for customers with the serious autoimmune disorder, Celiac Disease, as it may contain trace amounts of whole wheat flour."
I shouldn't be surprised. But I am. And disappointed -- this announcement, if it is true and justified, should be on all nutritional information, not at the end of an occasional email. Shame, Great Harvest.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
No, seriously, I would never go fishing. Why would I get up voluntarily at 4:00 a.m. to stand in rubber pants in a frozen lake, being eaten by mosquitoes, for the opportunity to injure and abandon fish when I can go to my local grocery store and buy Starfish Gluten Free Crispy Battered Cod?
JFG likes fish and chips, and while we can get great gluten-free versions at the Hawthorn Fish House in Portland (yum -- almost everything on the menu is gluten-free) it's a pain to have to drive 60 miles for fairly simple food.
And then a colleague told me about Starfish products -- namely the cod, although it comes in two other fish, like haddock as well -- which are stocked by my local grocery store. I finally talked JFG into frozen fish last night, namely by letting us run out of every other food except cereal and then discouraging his attempts to go out.
Admittedly my expectations were low. However, the fish was pretty good! We baked it for 13 minutes in the oven as recommended on the packaging, and then JFG ate it with about a cup of tarter sauce for garnish. You won't shut your eyes and imagine you're eating fish out of newspaper in the middle of a road at midnight in London, mind you, but I think we'd eat it again. And it would be great for fish tacos. If ONE of us ate fish tacos.
And so, three rice flours. Hawthorn's does better, but minus the sixty miles Starfish works in a pinch.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
"Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Twelfth Night: act 2, scene 3
In fact, there shall be both cakes and ale in Ashland for celiac patients, even though many options do not surface in Google searches.
First, our lovely B & B, managed by a delightful Irish couple. Every morning, Mrs. Bayberry Inn explained to JFG what was for breakfast for everyone else and outlined what she had prepared for him. We had a little confusion -- "No, there's no flour in that, but there is a little milk" -- but in the end JFG had the best kind of breakfast for him -- fruit, bacon, sausage, eggs. In truth, he had a better breakfast than the gluten-tolerant among us, as Mr. and Mrs. Bayberry Inn were partial to eggy quiche-like dishes with no crust and no taste. Even the 15-year-old boy also staying there, clearly capable of consuming large pizzas between eye blinks, insisted to Mrs. BI that he never really ate much for breakfast. But the banana bread was fantastic.
Second, the Peerless Restaurant and Bar. We mentioned when we made reservations that we needed gluten-free food. When we arrived, the maitre d' confirmed with us that the server knew about JFG's dietary needs. She did -- and sat with us reviewing every item on the menu, clarifying the ways each item could be cooked safely. We had antipasta (JFG was basically on his own -- olives pervaded), lamb, sweet potatoes and yams, seasonal vegetables and duck confit. For dessert, Grand Marnier souffle (the "cake"). Not my favorite, but JFG loved it.
Third, and possibly best, Agave, a Mexican restaurant where all but two dishes on the entire menu were gluten-free. They served the best chips we've ever had (although not gratis), fantastic tilapia ceviche, beautiful tamales and, my favorite, fish tacos. No, we did not eat all that at one sitting. Yes, I gained three pounds in three days.
I won't mention the sushi place, because a) the service wasn't very good, b) the edamame was lukewarm and c) it doesn't take a genius to make sushi gluten-free. It just takes a run to the grocery store for wheat-free soy sauce and about $2.50. I will mention Zoey's Cafe and Natural Ice Cream, because even without cones JFG is an ice cream fiend. Can't comment on the cafe food (heavily, heavily glutenized) but try the Oregon Trail ice cream.
Oh, the ale. Okay, I misled you a bit. There was no ale -- at least, no gluten-free ale. What there was was a tall, cold pint of draft Strongbow cider, which we'd take over ale any day of the week. I should note that not all cider is gluten-free, so do your research.
In sum, here is my assessment. We -- and, indeed, Ashland -- are virtuous. And yet, cakes and ale can always be located, my friends.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Naturally, most of the diets recommended require a lot of free time and access to complex food products -- raw "cleansing" soups, juices delivered by specialty companies, coconut water -- albeit apparently with successful if not sustainable outcomes.
All of that is to talk to you about Oprah's diet, which allows all foods as long as they're vegan and without sugar, alcohol, caffeine -- and gluten! In previous posts I've challenges the myth that gluten-free diets cause weight loss, but must admit that if you took out all of the other fun food ingredients it would probably work.
It's the one and only quote from the magazine's guinea pig that bothers me. "I read labels zealously and even bought gluten-free bread. But who cares? In just five days my stomach pooch deflated." YOU BOUGHT GLUTEN-FREE BREAD? Good for you. Wow. How did you survive? It must have been a struggle, since Safeway, Roth's, Target and Whole Foods all carry many, many varieties of gluten-free bread. Thousands of people -- even fat, ugly people wearing last year's lipstick -- each day figure this out. I'm glad that with the support of a multi-million dollar media conglomeration backing you, you managed this outrageous task.
A Thai-Turkish friend once clued me on that calling Gauguin's Polynesian paintings "exotic" effectively othered the non-white people he featured. Truthfully, by suggesting that gluten-free foods are part of strange and elite diets, that they require special resources and perform some kind of figure-fixing magic, actually others the millions of celiac patients in this country. Isn't it bad enough that celiacs have to question every item on menus, refuse birthday cake at office parties and wear buttons directing, "Please don't feed me unless you ask my mommy first"? Do skinny wealthy white women really have to pretend that this disease is harder than it actually is?
And, by the way, I'll believe that, ". . . in just five days my stomach pooch deflated" when my skinny jeans fit again.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
As paraphrased on http://www.celiac.com/:
"Another important marker in the history of celiac disease were the findings by Dutch pediatrician, Dr. Willem Karel Dicke. In 1953 Dr. Dicke wrote his doctoral thesis for the University of Utrecht based on his observations that the ingestion of wheat proteins specifically, and not carbohydrates in general, were the cause of celiac disease. He was able to exemplify his findings based on bread shortages in the Netherlands during World War II. During the bread shortages, he found that the health of children with celiac improved tremendously. However, when the allied planes began dropping bread to the Netherlands, the same children quickly deteriorated."
A miracle, really -- first, that anyone was paying attention to the stomachs of small Dutch children while Europe was in chaos and denial; second, that someone realized that the problem was wheat protein and not one of the myriad other food storage problems that existed at the time.
Monday, July 12, 2010
10. Gluten-Free Pantry Pie Crust -- any company that allows you to make gluten-free pie crust without crazy flour purchases should be on this list.
9. Zydeco (in Bend, OR), PF Chang's, Kwan's, Andina, and all of the other restaurants with separate and generous gluten-free menus.
8. Bette Hagman and those of her generation who made food safe for future celiac sufferers before it was sexy. Or even normal.
7. Chex mix.
6. Betty Crocker's gluten-free yellow and chocolate cake and brownie mixes, available not in the special gluten-free section of the grocery store but right in the baking aisle.
5. Gluten-Free Girl and Mag's Sentence, and every other blogger who realizes that celiac disease, once properly treated, is funny.
4. Family members willing -- and even eager -- to make entire Thanksgiving dinners gluten-free.
3. Physicians who can identify celiac disease quickly and relatively painlessly.
2. My husband's health.
1. Your family's health.
Thanks to everyone for giving us so much to be happy about. I am grateful.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I think of King Arthur Flour as the Frederick's of Hollywood of flour. They provide fairly vanilla forms of flour -- although at crazy prices -- but also carry flours and related products you don't recognize, don't know how to use and fear, a little. A brief journey through the recent catalog uncovers Italian-style flour (Italians have special flour?), dried buttermilk powder, cake enhancer, french lames (you use them to score bread because, as you know, a knife is useless in those critical situations) and some kind of liquid that you add to cookies to make them taste like cookies. See? Just like adding garter belts as complicated as suspension bridges to already undressed people makes them sexier.
In other words, King Arthur Flour, already credible in the exotic baking products racket, should carry gluten-free products. I was very excited when the catalog arrived today.
And I'm disappointed. Oh, sure -- the catalog lists all of the standard flours and mixes, from tapioca starch to chocolate cake mix. That's the problem! In terms of standard gluten-free products, Bob's Red Mill has that market wrapped up. I don't need a vendor for standard stuff. I expect a company that sells lilac sugar pearls (you use them to decorate cupcakes, in case that wasn't self-evident in the description) to move beyond gluten-free pancake mix.
KAF deepened my disappointment on page 6. And 7. And 8. In the two-page gluten-free spread, there's a recipe for white sandwich bread (the very food used to illustrate ubiquity). There's a sweet column by the product development manager, and a promise that everyone -- gluten-free diet or no -- will enjoy the products. But when you turn the page, it's as if the gluten-free section never existed. The very next recipe in the catalog calls for hi-gluten flours, in fact, and none of the other recipes or columns suggest ways to substitute gluten-free flour in your baking.
Pages 4 and 5. The gluten-free ghetto. Nice try, King Arthur. I expect more, and I think you're missing a market -- gluten-free bakers (especially those that have already demonstrated their willingness to purchase expensive baking supplies) are childishly excited to be able to use conventional baking recipes. They're willing to experiment and try new products. And yet there's nothing in your catalog I can't find at the local health food store. Why pay $6.50 (that's minimum, by the way) in shipping for the same supplies?
My final assessment? I appreciate the effort, KAF, but I need a better reason to weed through the elephant-face underwear and fuzzy handcuffs when I can shop at Target for less money and in broad daylight.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
And to celebrate, here's a wonderful recipe for a flourless cake from the Oregonian, passed to me by a compassionate colleague. It's the kind of cake that is so dense that, if you bake it in a round pan, it's a cake. Bake it in a square pan, it's brownies. Either way, fantastic with gluten-free ice cream. And it doesn't require any crazy ingredients. I had everything at home already.
I would have included a picture, but it barely made it out of the springform pan before it was consumed. Yum.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
But when I contemplate gluten-free baking recipes, which frequently call for several kinds of flour and strange chemical substances I cave to a few tried-and-true mixes.
Finally, King Arthur Flour (definitely the go-to company for advanced bakers, the kind of place that understands the need for -- and sells -- 14 kinds of salt) has released new gluten-free baking mixes. They've also greatly enhanced their gluten-free website, with new recipes, advice and information about cooking for folks with allergies.
Interestingly, as a side note, they advocate baking gluten-free food in a separate oven from glutenized food. Sigh. Thank goodness I have two ovens.
Anyway, thanks, King Arthur Flour. I'll post "Celiac-by-Marriage approved" recipes as I try 'em!
Monday, February 22, 2010
1. The server was able to find the GF menu right away (seriously, sometimes they have to go print it off from the corporate website).
So, thanks very much David and the rest of the fantastic staff at Andina. It's such a great experience to be able to order from an adequate menu, feel safe that the food is being prepared correctly and not have to reluctantly cross another restaurant off our list when we discover, four hours later, that the food was indeed glutenized.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
We also made apple turnovers from the Culinary Institute of America's gluten-free cookbook. The Culinary Institute of America would have denied ownership of the recipe if they saw how the turnovers turned out (see before and after pictures below) but they tasted great. JFG ate them all. In one night.
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup gluten-free flour mixture (I used a mixture of sorghum flour, white rice flour and tapioca starch)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2-1/2 cups tart apples (I used Braeburn), diced into teenty-tiny pieces
1/2 cup pastry cream (recipe below)
1 egg for egg wash
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Roll out pie dough. Using a bowl with a diameter of about four inches, cut out five circles of dough and place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper (actually use parchment paper -- brown sugar and apple juice turns into cement)
3. Combine apples, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add pastry cream.
4. Divide the filling among the dough circles. Each will take about 1/3 cup. If you have filling left over, spoon it into a ramekin and bake it with the turnovers -- it's great to eat with a fork.
5. Brush egg wash on the outer edge of each dough circle. Fold the circles in half and seal the edges. Brush egg wash on the top side of the turnovers.
6. Vent each turnover with a knife or fork.
7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool and eat!
1-1/2 eggs (use the other half an egg for the egg wash above)
1 cup milk, divided
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2-1/5 tbs cornstarch
1-1/2 tbs butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1. Whisk together egg, 1/4 cup milk, 1/8 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Combine remaining milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil over moderate heat.
3. Add about 1/4 of the milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Add the egg-milk mixture to the remaining simmering milk mixture in the saucepan on the stove all at once; continue whisking until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken; remove from heat.
5. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
6. Spoon pastry cream into a wide shallow dish and allow to cool completely.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I've commented before that celiac disease is a wealthy person's disease, but this tax deduction underlines it. As it turns out, you can only take advantage of this tax deduction if your gluten-free products absorb 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Wow. And, in addition that you need a note from your doctor. Consult your tax advisor, and look into buying bulk.
1/2 cup butter
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
He's been on diets before, but never has he been so systematic about it. The fine people at Livestrong have created an app that lets you do what used to require paper, a pencil and a book -- you can track your food intake each day, and the app automatically calculates your protein, sugar, carbs and so forth. This is not an app for people with an artistic or interpretive approach to weight control; this is for people with rigid food sensibilities who are not afraid to overthink their food. The funny thing is, of course, that Lance Armstrong, the philandering yet noble icon behind Livestrong, eats 10,000 calories on the mornings of the Tour de France. He probably pays someone to track it, though.
In other words, "There's an app -- and paid help -- for that."
Like many men, JFG has never really paid much attention to nutritional labels, and therefore to calories, before. So he's constantly making discoveries I made in the 7th grade (which, of course, is the age when most women started their first diet). We have several conversations each day that go like this:
"Oh my god!"
"What?? What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Did you know that cheese has 110 calories per ounce?"
"Well, yes, honey. Cheese isn't a diet food."
"Why did you let me eat it?"
And to that I really don't have an answer, except that he's older than a toddler and I assume that he's grown-up enough to make his own culinary decisions. Plus, I can't even conceive how someone could get to 33 and not know that cheese is the diet equivalent of the Titanic --luxurious but tragically doomed.
Anyway, as a result of this culinary adventure he's been on, we've eliminated still further categories of food from his diet. Even though I can now produce them gluten-free, he's cut out pie, cookies, cake, chips and salsa (man cannot live on bread alone, but JFG has done his damnedest to give it a shot with only chips and salsa), brownies and cobbler.
And this time of year, that leaves candy hearts, which have very few calories per handful. He loves candy hearts and always has. We scanned the nutritional information last year and declared them gluten-free (heck, they're basically sugar and corn starch and about fifteen kinds of dye). This year, though, so that he could enter them in his app, we read the nutritional information again very carefully. And in the same small text that kamikazied so, so many other foods, there were the fateful words: Made in a facility that also processes wheat.
It really breaks your heart.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
About six months ago, Starbucks -- which, according to its website, supports healthy eating -- introduced a gluten-free pastry, a lemony-berry-cake-thing. It came carefully wrapped in plastic to avoid cross contamination. It wasn't cooked fresh at the store, but it was moist and gooey and very good. And safe. It wasn't quite the chocolate old-fashioned JFG adores at Starbucks but certainly a good replacement.
And then it was gone. Poof. Experiment over and apparently failed.
Starbucks continues to feature a few fruit/nut bars and chocolate bars that are gluten-free, but nothing replaces gluten-free baked goods. And when you google "gluten" on the Starbucks website, a list of coffees comes up. Duh.
The other day, however, I went into Starbucks and was standing in line for my coffee (I firmly believe, by the way, that there should be a "plain coffee" line and a "crazy, not really ordering coffee but actually ordering a coffee-flavored milkshake" line for those of us willing to drink caffeinated beverages like grown-ups). I noticed a small brochure sitting next to a basket of interesting-looking chips. I picked it up.
As it turns out, Starbucks has started to prominently carry a line of gluten-free chips from a company called Food Should Taste Good. The chips come in a range of flavors, from olive to lime to potato & chive to chocolate, and are clearly marked "gluten-free." Excellent, especially since -- if you start with the yellow corn tortilla chips, move to the buffalo chips with a side of 'the works' chips and finish with the chocolate chips -- you have a complete meal.
A friend whose family has gluten issues correctly commented that, "chips are easy. Anyone can do gluten-free chips. Baked goods are the problem," and she's right. I choose, however, to see the chips as a peace offering as well as a good business decision for Starbucks.
After all, the number of celiacs in our population continues to increase, at least theoretically because we're stuffing ourselves with food made from highly-processed flour. Staring glassily at the squishy, crumbly, chocolaty pastries in the Starbucks display case, I realize that Starbucks itself is poisoning the American population with sugar and flour disguised as breakfast. They just want to make sure they don't lose the demographic they create.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
No, he never went to Wharton. Nor did Wharton pay him to wear this shirt. I think it was conference swag.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Nope, these are croutons made from WHEAT flour, fried no doubt in contaminated fat. Yum.
I feel like a recovered heroin addict sneaking drugs into the house for just ONE hit with the intention of tossing the stuff afterward.
Not to worry, however. My husband's health means more to me than hero -- I mean, flour. Croutons are safely contained on the non-gluten-free shelf in my pantry.
Monday, January 25, 2010
As you know, flying poses particular threats to celiacs. Fast food, unreliable in any context, abounds, and the servers at the few restaurants in airports are clearly hired for their skill in moving customers in and out as quickly as possible. This atmosphere does not lend itself to long discussions about gluten intolerance and culinary options. So, as usual, I packed JFG off to the airport with a bag of food, much like I imagine Little Red Ridinghood's mom would have done if she had really loved her daughter.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Get your own blog. :-)
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Dinner parties present quite a challenge. What's enough food? What's too much food? How long do you really want to stare at the leftovers in the fridge? And this time, one additional challenge -- a vegetarian. Since JFG's go-to GF food is charred meat, we had to think outside the BBQ. Here's what we made, from a variety of GF recipe sources.
Broiled figs and brie, courtesy of Gluten-Free Girl's wonderful blog. We couldn't find fresh figs, only discovering after four stops that figs aren't readily available in Oregon until March. So, we re-hydrated some white figs, which worked perfectly. If we did figs and cheese again, I would probably make sure the cheese was room temperature before we started. Regardless, yum. Excellent appetizer, especially with wine.
Sweet potato hash, courtesy of the Big Book of Vegetarian. I apparently look vegetarian, because semi-close relatives are constantly buying me vegetarian cookbooks. To be fair, I was vegetarian for a couple of years -- more than a decade ago! -- but got sick of salads. Anyway, a couple of years ago when my mom made sweet potato french fries, JFG got hooked on the things. And, as I've mentioned before, I'm a BIG fan of foods that are all cooked at once in one big pot. Sweet potato hash from the Big Book fit all criteria and is charmingly low-brow. Recipe below.
We tried to make Bob's Red Mill cornbread (the only Bob's Red Mill pre-packaged mix I like), but I discovered too late that our milk had gone bad quite a long time ago. Ugh. In a pinch, I turned to Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America, a book that has not steered me wrong regarding gluten-free baking, and tried the focaccia recipe (honestly, without much hope). I didn't have the time or wherewithal to create the flour mixes, a combination of white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, guar gum, albumen, soy flour (defatted, however that is possible), and whey powder, that the recipe calls for. Instead, I tried "Basic Baking Flour Mix 3" from Gluten-Free Creations, a GF baking company in Phoenix, AZ. The package suggested that I should "Use cup for cup in [my] recipes" and claimed that "[the store] use[s] this mix in [their] bakery for pizza, baguettes [and] focaccia." It contains white rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot, xanthan gum and gelatin. What the heck! Can't be worse than rotten-milk cornbread, I thought.
It worked. The focaccia, featuring a combination of rosemary, oregano, basil and salt, was lovely. It rose, contained pockets of air, and held together beautifully. In fact, it would make excellent sandwich bread. Recipe below.
Friends brought the perfect kind of salad -- spinach, apples, walnuts, blue cheese and maple-flavored vinaigrette -- and we finished with with a blackberry pie, made with driveway blackberries we froze back in August.
I must close, however, with a review of the wine. A friend brought a bottle of Riunite, almost legendary for its appallingness. It foamed when we poured it, and then bubbled, I imagine quite like cyanide must. It was like wine made from Hawaiian Punch. Fortunately, we had excellent back-up wine.
Sweet Potato Hash
1 tbs canola oil
2 medium onions
1 small bell pepper
1 large sweet potato
2 cloves garlic
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
.5 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup corn kernels
1 15oz can black beans
In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and chopped bell pepper and stir until brown, about 4 minutes. Add chopped sweet potato and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder and salt and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the broth and cook until almost absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn and black beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Season with pepper and serve hot.
1.25 tsp yeast
.5 tsp dried rosemary
.5 tsp dried basil
.5 tsp dried oregano
.5 tsp salt
2.5 cups Gluten-Free Creations' Basic Baking Flour Mix #3
1.25 cups water (it actually called for sparkling water; I'm not enough of a foodie to have that on-hand)
.3 cup olive oil
.25 cup white vinegar (I used tarragon vinegar; apparently I'm enough of a foodie to have that on-hand)
1.75 tbs coarse salt
Blend dry ingredients and herbs in bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix with a paddle for 5 minutes on medium.
Place dough in one 9-inch pan brushed with olive oil and salt. Cover and allow to raise in warm area for 30 to 40 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven (385 degrees) for 30 to 35 minutes. After fifteen minutes, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt.
Remove from pan and place on cooling rack. Serve with oil and balsamic vinegar, if desired.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Surprisingly, these booths seem to be run by three separate businesses. All three provide some traditional baked goods, with an emphasis on cookies and small pies. The gluten-free booth at the Salem Farmer's Market frequently sells trail mix and some non-gluten-free products. The GF booth at the McMinnville Farmer's Market makes some lovely quickbreads and yeast breads.
Katie's GF Home Baking LLC at the McMinnville Saturday Market (I know the name of the business because a colleague's wife kindly picked up the brochure for me) also sells baked goods, selection very limited, to Harvest Fresh in downtown McMinnville. But her stock at the Saturday Market is excellent, dominately largely by sweets. When I visited her booth at the Saturday Market before the holidays, she commented to me that she would make a million dollars if she could only figure out a way to make a GF artisan loaf of bread.
Alas, such a feat is currently out of her extensive range. What she can do, though, is make a mean chocolate-caramel shortbread cookie. Shortbread is one of those foods that, due to a simple list of ingredients, relies on ingredient quality and richness for taste. I would think that the weirdness of GF flour would compromise the cookie -- but no! Katie's shortbread is tasty on its own but especially rich with caramel and chocolate. It doesn't crumble or sag, occasional properties of GF cookies. I was even able to cut a teeny-tiny piece off for me with a knife before I turned it over to JFG.
Based on her shortbread cookie, I'm sure Katie's other products are excellent. And I hold my breath for the day she makes that GF artisan loaf. Four rice flours for one fantastic cookie. You can place orders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Lately, though, JFG and I have been eating frozen lunches alot lately for a couple of reasons. 1) gluten-free food goes bad faster than glutenized food unless it's frozen, and 2) neither of us have time to cook for the future (as in, for lunch the next day).
Amy's Kitchen has been a godsend. According to the box, after Amy's daughter was born in 1987, Amy and her husband started looking for easy organic meals. When they couldn't find them, they created a company that specialized in organic, vegetarian frozen food. They also happen to have a line of gluten-free frozen meals, primarily Mexican and Indian food. Fairly low in calorie and reasonably high in protein, these have become our lunch-time way of life.