Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

Personal: Gluten-Free Milestones and Successes

The last four months have just flown by here at Ye Olde Gluten Free Blogge.  We’ve seen major improvement, I’ve lost something in the neighborhood of 15 lbs of the 85 I need to loose… and life in general has been pretty good.  We’ve reflected on being GF many times, and since I am given to boughts of introspection, I expect we will reflect many more times.

I want to thank you all for making this blog worth writing.  I check regularly to see what you’ve been reading and if you’re leaving any comments.  You’re doing both and that makes me so happy!  Being GF was not the easy and simple transition I assumed it would be… it has taken emotional, social and mental toll for sure.  But it’s also taught me a great many things about self-control and temperance, and after all, shouldn’t we learn from our experiences?

I am going to be expanding Ye Olde Gluten Free Blogge in the near future, and we’ve been kicking around things like getting menus from local restaurants without GF menus and posting them, an interactive portion so we can talk about our favorite GF ingredients (specialty or non), and I will be starting to post excerpts from my GF book that is in the works.  Not sure if we’re going to self-pub or try to find a publisher… I guess it just depends on what the market can bear.  All sales will go to finance my education and make this blog more interesting. 😉  If we make #1 on the Bestsellers list, I’ll donate a chunk to finance Celiac research or some such. 😉

I can honestly say that in the last four months, my life has gotten so normal that it is astounding.  My immunity is still down, but the successes cannot be ignored.  I am finally able to think clearly again, my energy levels have been slowly improving… heck, life is good! 

My birthday is April 13th and we’ve already worked out a from scratch recipe for strawberry cake (just like me grammy used to make).  Man, the first few (using conventional cake wisdom and unconventional ingredients) were royal disasters… but we’re in the ballpark now, baby!  Gotta think stiff pudding instead of cake batter… 😉  Can anyone explain the science behind that, btw?  Why are GF baked goods stiff enough to break the shaft on a stand mixer?  I know they don’t have as much liquid… but what’s the dealy-o (there’s got to be engineering behind it)?  My little West Bend can’t take much more!!! 

Actually, joking aside, my little West Bend has performed suprisingly well, considering that it is probably 12 years old and wasn’t the highest end model to begin with… one day maybe I’ll win the International Lottery and be able to afford a really nice KitchenAide… or at least maybe I’ll luck upon a really good, but ancient, mixer at the Flea Market.

Well, here’s to successes and to rattling on because I feel like rattling on… not because I have no idea where I was going with my thoughts!  That in itself is a major success!! 🙂

Personal: Gluten-Free Google Alerts

I don’t normally get all mushy about software, but I gotta say, I feel like an instant celebrity every single time Ye Olde Gluten Free Blogge gets alerted to me.  I have two google alerts (really cool for new news on whatever it is you’re in to) sent to me one daily: one for keywords “gluten free” and the other for “celiac.”  I post the most interesting things that I see, except the medical stuff, since I’m not a medical expert, just a cook.  

Google alerts are how I discovered http://www.celiacdate.com <– Hee hee.  Cool site, if you want to marry a celiac, I guess.  I can’t imagine how that date goes… “Hey, I can’t have gluten… and you can’t either… let’s get married!!”  HOORAY!  I wasn’t single when I got my shiny laminated Celiac membership card, but I can see how dating might be tricky… still, though.  Surely if someone liked you enough, they would be willing to at least limit their love affair with gluten (my better half has a 30″ counter and an 18″x24″ shelf where he is allowed to keep gluteny goods segregated from the rest of the food population).  But, I digress.

Anyway, love Google Alerts, and if you want your own, go to http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en and set your own up.  You’ll be glad you did (if you’re a looser like me who doesn’t get much email 😉 –> well, my Dad spams me constantly, does that count as email?)

Review: Food of Life’s GF SnickerDoodle

I have been waiting… waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for a GF Snickerdoodle that could rival my grandmother’s.  Well, the wait is over.

On my most recent GF buying expedition, I lucked upon a basket of GF Food of Life cookies… and at $3.00 each I had high expectations.  Oddly enough, there is no caloric or nutritional information on the package, but it says “Made in Bread of Life’s Dedicated Gluten Free Facility.”  Maybe part of a box or something… I really couldn’t care how many calories are in this cookie, since budget makes it only an occassional possibility anyway.

But, on to the show.  This is the BEST, hands down, GF cookie I have had in my mouth, and the first to be moist and not hard.  It tastes just like my grandmother’s snickerdoodles, I have no higher praise for it.  I am in love.

Personal: A Word About Taco Bell

*** For those of you who are reading this looking for a GF Taco Bell Menu, please see the newer post, Taco Bell, Take 2! https://crystalstair.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/taco-bell-take-2/ ***

This is my story, and mileage may vary for the rest of you, but I had the best experience today and wanted to share it.

 I live in Springfield, Missouri, a small city in the heart of the Ozarks Plateau.  We don’t have a PF Chang’s, we don’t have a Whole Foods Market… Celiacs here do the best they can until the farmer’s markets open.  We have two restaurants with a specific Gluten Free menu: The Outback and a little Vietnamese place called Bambu (which we frequent like fiends). 

90% of the time I tell a server that I can’t have wheat, rye or barley, the response is either: “I can bring you white bread.” or “There’s no bread with X dish.”  Gluten is a foreign concept here.

So, I have to commend the Taco Bell on West Sunshine (across from Bass Pro) for their knowledge and observational skills.  I drove through today to get lunch for my husband, who was filling in for someone at the local Crisis Hotline (so she could spend the holiday with her kids).  I ordered for him, then I ordered for me: Chicken Taco Salad, no bowl, no red strips… you know the drill.  I didn’t check the order, just went to drop it off at Jim’s work.

When I got there, what do you know?  My order was wrong.  I’ve been on Cipro this week for Diverticulitis, so when I realized my order was inedible, I was almost in tears.  I resolved, though, to go back to the Taco Bell and give them a piece of my mind, even if I accomplished little else.

At the Taco Bell, I calmly explained the whole speel… no wheat, make us die, etc., etc.  A woman I can only presume was the manager (her name was Twyla) told me that it was ok, they knew about Celiac and had a few regulars who had the same problem.  She was really, really nice.  She didn’t try to just “scrape off” the offensive meat goo, she tossed my salad in front of me and made me a new one.  She also gave me a stack of Tostata shells and told me that some of the other Celiacs break them up into chips.

I know it probably doesn’t seem like much to most of you, but it meant the world to me.  In a place where I have no choice but to advocate for myself, I found one more shining jewel of understanding.  In a place where I constantly feel left out, someone found a way to include me.

When I was finally dx’ed in November, I thought the hardest part was over.  I really, really did.  No longer would I be ill, I would be improving daily (which I am, and that’s a blessing).  I would be strong, I would be well, I would be able to go outside and hike and work in my garden and play with my dogs.  I was so super pumped. 

 I never considered how hard the changes would be, how embarrassed I would be to eat out with friends, how much my life would change.  I was sick for at least 10 years (my whole adult life), my mother thinks maybe all my life (hindsight is 20/20 they say)… so these changes are significant.  I guess I just never expected them to be… Celiac Disease was my magic bullet and I expected all my problems to go away once someone finally acknowledged that I was really ill and not just attention seeking.

 So, for this, and so much more today, I want to thank the Taco Bell and Twyla.  Thanks for making me feel included and not like I was being a royal pain in the rear.

*** For those of you who are reading this looking for a GF Taco Bell Menu, please see the newer post, Taco Bell, Take 2! https://crystalstair.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/taco-bell-take-2/***

Review: Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix

*** Please note: This recipe has been improved, so please, unless you’re just crazy for box mixes, try the one at https://crystalstair.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/recipe-gluten-free-chicken-and-dumplings/.  ***

Since we’re all fighting off respiratory infections here at Ye Olde Gluten Free Blog, we’re having an old family recipe tonight for dinner.  My grandmother and my mother used to make this for me when I was a sick little girl.  Too bad it probably made things worse… 😉  We got a box of Arrowhead Mills GF Baking Mix, so we’ll see how it stacks up to Ye Olde Jiffy Brand.

And, surprise, surprise… they taste just like dumplings.  Hooray for Arrowhead Mills!!  These dumplings are a little more firm than Jiffy dumplings and a little less slimy (plus they don’t lend anything to thickening the soup), but all in all, an excellent faxcimilie!!  Yay!  I am pleased.

Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings (now GF!)

3 celery ribs, split and chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 tblsp fresh ginger, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 lb chicken breasts, diced
12 cups hot water
4 tblsp chicken bullion
Black Pepper, to taste
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

Dumplings:
2 c Baking Mix
2/3 c milk (approx)
1 tblsp black pepper
1 tblsp poppy seeds
1 tblsp sage, broken up well
1 tblsp salt

How to:

1.  Start by putting 12 cups of hot water in a big pot, bigger than you think you will need.  I use a 10 qt stock pot.
2.  Dump in ginger, garlic, carrot, celery, chicken, chicken bullion, and black and cayenne peppers.  Set the stove to medium and start working on your dumplings!
3.  Dumplings:  Mix all dry dumpling ingredients in a bowl about twice the size of the dry pile.  Make a little well in the middle and pour in about 1/3 c. of the milk.  Integrate this portion with a fork and add more.  Keep adding milk until the dumpling batter is wet and sticky, but there are no wet milk puddles.  Leave alone until time to drop them in the soup.
4.  When soup has reached a boil (a real boil here, not a simmer), begin dropping dumpling mix by the rounded teaspoon (as in the spoon in your kitchen drawer that you eat with), one at a time.  When the dumpling you just dropped comes back to the surface, it is time to drop the next one.  Don’t drop them on top of one another and try to keep older ones between newer ones.  This is tricky and gets trickier the further you go. 🙂
5.  When all dumplings are dropped, turn heat down a little until you get a mighty simmer, but the pot is no longer in full boil.  Stir occasionally, but gently, from the bottom up.  If you’re not gentle, you’re break up your dumplings.
6.  Boil for 30 minutes if you used precooked chicken, at least 45 for raw chicken.
7.  Let stand about 15 minutes before serving to thicken.

*** Please note: This recipe has been improved, so please, unless you’re just crazy for box mixes, try the one at https://crystalstair.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/recipe-gluten-free-chicken-and-dumplings/.  ***