Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Updated with "After" Pics! Preparing a Gluten Free Thanksgiving Feast

My mom and Seth's mom on dish duty (we don't let them cook), and my sis-in-law who is an amazing cook!
My mom's plate- she only took a small amount of bread at first, leery of gf breads, but she loved the Against the Grain Baguettes, so she ended up eating more of it!  I used Seth's grandma's china and bought gold chargers.
Me.  Cooking.  In pajamas.  As an active-duty military family, we rent this house, so disregard the ugly cabinets and appliances.  The granite counters are nice, tho! 

This will be my second time hosting a gluten free Thanksgiving.  I've had the luxury of two other gluten free Thanksgivings hosted by my mother (when it was just she & I), and by my best friend (who also made vegetarian options for another guest, so I wasn't the only one requiring intensive care in food prep).
Here are "professional" Turkey Day recipes from Living Without Magazine.

This is what I plan on preparing for Turkey Day: (note: the pink are UPDATES added 11/16/11)

  • Gluten Free Turkey (remember some poultry is injected with gluten containing flavorings/broths).  I've tried Shelton's before, but it didn't knock my socks off, so I'll try another brand this time.  Now that we live in Atlanta, we'll have to see what Whole Paycheck Foods offers.  Other gf options listed in an old copy of Living Without magazine show Aaron's Gourmet, Empire Kosher, Honeysuckle White, Jennie-O, Norbest, Organic Prairie, Perdue, and Shady Brook Farms.  **Remember NOT to stuff the turkey.  Martha Stewart doesn't recommend it (due to bacteria from poultry), and my mother insisted we do it with gf stuffing once, and it was so mushy we had to throw it out.  Obviously, if you are also having gluten-ful stuffing, do not put it in the turkey!
  • Gluten Free Stuffing - I haven't decided yet, between cornbread stuffing (my bff made it superbly one year) or the new recipe, here, that I got from the gluten free expo from Against the Grain.  Click here for Enjoy Life's gluten free recipes for pie crust made from smashed cookies, stuffing, etc.  Remember, many people find cooking the stuffing in the crock pot keeps it moist.  Click here for more stuffing recipes.
  • Cranberry Sauce- I'm a purist- no chutneys, no orange zest.  Just the original sauce, naturally gf!
  • Bread- Leaning toward Against the Grain, but may choose Schar rolls or make cornbread-- I love Sylvan Border Farm Classic Dark Bread Mix (similar to Pumpernickel), but I think I'm going to order CranRaisAppWalnut bread from Sally's GF Bakery in Sandy Springs, GA.
  • I also recommend ordering from THE SILLY YAK Bakery here. Feeling gutsy? How about trying a gluten free bread bowl recipe, here.
  • Yams- regular recipe, with brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows- naturally gluten free!
  • Click here for a link to gluten free flour blends you can make yourself, or try Better Batter, GF Bisquick, or Pamela's Baking Mix.  Be mindful of whether or not it already includes baking powder and xanthan gum/guar gum.
  • Green Beans- I like them with slivered almonds, but my Midwestern mom loves that green bean casserole, so I did by a gravy packet from a guy at the gf expo, his website is here.  I also liked the sample he had of sausage gravy (like for breakfast), yum!  
  • Corn Pudding:  Combine and mix:  14 oz can creamed corn, 2 eggs (lightly beaten), 1 c evap milk, 1/4 c sugar, 2 and 1/2 c GF flour blend, 2 tbsp butter, salt to taste (add a can of drained corn if you wish).  Pour into 1.5 qt casserole dish or 8x8 square dish. Bake @350 for 50 min. Serves 6
  • Mashed potatoes- a la Gordon Ramsey, using a potato ricer, hot milk, whipping over heat.
  • Gluten free Gravy- in the past I've used drippings with corn starch, but this year I'm using the packet I bought at the gf expo (see link under green beans).
  • Appetizers: olive/relish tray, brie cheese and Trader Joe's rice crackers, crudite with pumpkin hummus recipe here.
  • Desserts:  Gluten Free Hello Dolly Bars (my mom just subs gf ingredients, but there is a recipe in the latest Delight GF Magazine, Apple Cranberry Crisp (remember to omit the gf flour the recipes call for- texture is like sand! I use gf oats and gf graham crumbs), Vitamix pumpkin cake (sub gf flours), and Gluten free Chocolate cream pie with gf graham crumb crust. Click here for a version of Betty Hagman's pie crust.  Some Whole Foods Markets sell pre-made pie crusts. Remember to use Aluminum-Free Baking Powder for your baking this year, to avoid a metallic aftertaste.
  • Drinks:  Rhubarb wine, water, apple cider, soda, milk, and PUMPKIN LATTEs with VitaMix!
  • Ask guests to bring:  flowers, cranberry sauce, crudite, cool whip, ice cream, yams, gr.beans, or hummus, drinks.  Explain about cc.
  • Now, this won't work for everyone.  My stepdad and mom are coming from FL for the holiday weekend, but they will be dining out for Thanksgiving, choosing to opt-out of a gf dinner.  My stepdad is a stickler for tradition and a control freak.  He's also unable to stay at other people's homes, always in a hotel.  Hopefully he remembers his blood pressure meds this year (to see what happened when he didn't one year, click here). **UPDATE:  My stepdad and mom skipped the restaurant and ate with all of us!  My stepdad gobbled his plate clean!  They all were surprised how buttery and yummy and great-textured the Against the Grain baguettes were and the proof was that they ate tons of them.   Everyone commented on how juicy the brined turkey from Trader Joe's was.  It was the best Thanksgiving I've had since going gluten free in 2005.
  • If you're traveling, you can order travel sized dressings and soy sauce packets here.
  • I'm also hosting my first Halloween Party.  Here is the list of gluten free Halloween treats I'll be serving.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Festering gluten-Freely at the Fall Festivals

    So, let's start with Oktoberfest. Helen, Georgia, embodies the German influence in its half-timbered buildings, sausage-laden menus, and alpine attitude year-round, so it's the perfect place to celebrate Oktoberfest. And, oh, do they celebrate! People were carrying steins and sporting Bavarian style green fedora hats, lederhosen, Saint Paulie Girl outfits, and suspenders, and noshing on streudel, sauerkraut, hot Bavarian pretzels, and various -wursts. But, really, when one is gluten-freestyling one's way through most "fests", food (and beer, in this case) is to be circumvented, rather than encircled. It's not easy Living Without (love that magazine!), especially when funnel cake is in fruition. Beer was abundant, but I never found a stein or boot-shaped mug, or table tapper offering Green's, New Grist, or Redbridge. Yes, it was disappointing watching everyone devour their delectable delights. For once, I was wishing I was with a weight-conscious, fattening food-avoiding, fork dipping in the salad dressing (on the side), diet-obsessed girlfriend. At least I indulged in a scrumptious caramel apple and a chocolate turtle, alongside my Glutino granola bars and fruit.

    Next, was the Tuskeegee/Morehouse football tailgate fete. Holy wow, do these Southerners know how to tailgate. Giant turkey legs, fried fish, barbecue, you name it! And, what was I able to indulge in? A mango smoothie and a bad ear of corn (hard to please a Midwesterner when it comes to corn). Be still my heart. We were there all day and a Lara Bar wasn't cutting it, so I had Seth stop and pick me up some fast food fries when I came home. Thank goodness for Five Guys. The best part of the lackluster football game was the Tuskeegee Band- dancing tuba players and Beyonce-inspired dresses on the drill teams were jaw-dropping. This ain't no Midwest band attire. (We attended because a USMC General was doing the coin toss- Seth had brunch with him,
    but I skipped that, for gluten free and sanity reasons. Since Seth is Commanding Officer, we have many weekend functions to attend like this.)

    Kilted Men
    Giant Potato Ribbon
    Scotch Egg
     Finally, there was the Scottish Highland Festival. My Major is Scottish, (but his ginger hair comes from his mom's Italian side).he Carolinas have a huge population of Scots, who come down to the woods of GA to compete in Highland Games including the Caber toss (where they toss a giant log, end-over-end---this began as a bridge building skill in Scotland!), the sheep toss (they use hay bags to simulate sheep, since the PETA probably wouldn't be happy about them chucking the real woolies multiple stories thirty feet in the air), Highland dancing , falcons flying, and sheepdogs herding by whistle command. Kilted men, redheads, and bagpipes abound! Way fun, but I couldn't even partake in ice cream because when I asked if they could scoop mine from a clean container, they opened a new package of cups and scooped it from the container contaminated with waffle cone crumbs, etc. This is why I heart Baskin Robbins. They always get the clean container of mint chip or gold medal ribbon for me. I only wish they still had Martian Mint, my all-time fave. Although, I wonder if that flavor is gluten free? So, I noshed on Glutino crackers and Justin's almond butter and Lara bars which tasted all the worse when watching people devour mile-high ribboned potatoes, Scotch eggs, Bridies, essentially a sausage turnover (which I forced The Major to sample- and he wouldn't put it down, he loved it! It really irks me when he won't try new foods, because I have always enthused in this when I travel or go to cultural events and now I am unable to partake in ethnically eclectic edibles.

    Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Crisp
      Halloween and Fall- Yes, there are gluten-free recipes in abundance, but it really irritates the heck out of me when people SUBTRACT the BEST PART of dishes to make them gluten free. CRUSTLESS pie? Are you freaking kidding me? Isn't that called pudding? Or porridge? Or mush? Or gunk? What's so difficult about concocting a nut crust, gf graham cracker crust, or a gf flour crust? Here's a clue: we already live WITHOUT enough stuff. And nobody eats the pie for the filling. I don't recommend pumpkin pancakes- Seth's banana ones are far superior. Pumpkin cookies, chili, Vitamix pumpkin bread, Sylvan Farms pumpernickel bread, apple-cranberry crisp (without sand-like gf flour--this omission is an improvement on the crunch factor), caramel apples and that dip, and those ginger spice cookies with the Sun on the package, Laffy Taffy, mini-Snickers, and Charleston Chew are probably my gluten free fall favorites.

    Glutenized Fall foods and candies I yearn for: bread bowls of soups and dips, licorice Nibs, Milky Way, Ralph's grocery store soft sugar cookies, Kit Kat, Twix, and all the festival foods!


    Frozen Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks
    NEW GLUTEN FREE FOODS ON MY HORIZON: I can't wait to try: Frozen GF Mozzerella Sticks, Trader Joe's mac n cheese, and Good Grub Subs. What I've been eating (since I have to drop a few extra pounds-our USMC Birthday Ball is in Nov.- and Seth is in CA all week): I'm trying not to mess up the kitchen and be low-maintenance for my own satisfaction: Breakfasts: Grits, Greek Yogurt, or Udi Raisin Toast Lunches: Lara Bars, Kettle frozen chili (only b/c it was on sale), or egg salad on Udi bread Dinners: Bell & Evans chicken tenders with bbq or with mozz cheese and spaghetti sauce, or GF Brisket Tamales from the tiny Farmer's Market on Johnson's Ferry Road, and sweet potato, and veg Snacks: Individual packet of French Meadow Bakery brownie or cookie, pears, and celery (plain)
    Serendipity! Gluten free tamales under my nose!
    What I'm afraid to try: @Joy_bauer 's idea to add canned pumpkin to yogurt for a fall treat. sounds ick What I've tried recently: red quinoa- very nutty flavor. I don't think Seth loved it. I can see why they recommended half red and half plain in the recipe I found online. Gluten free frozen bavarian pretzels- pretty fantastic! Fall foods I'm happy I never cared for: pumpkin pie, cheesecake of any kind, butternut squash soup, casseroles of most kinds. Baby hats my aunt sells that I buy from her to use as gifts:

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Udi Gluten Free Frozen Pizza: A Quick Gluten Free Dinner

    Went easy on the cheese, plucked herbs from my planter, and piled on veg, and pineapple.
    The Colonel was in town, so my Major had to take him to dinner.  What to eat myself- without a big production?  Try that Udi Pizza Crust!  

    It was super easy to make- just preheat oven, pile on sauce and toppings, and bake for 7 min.
    I bought it at Whole Paycheck Foods.  There were two in a package, frozen.
    The crust was quite pitiful thin (especially for a Chicago native). Additionally, although I delighted in the crispy edge, the middle tasted like I would imagine cardboard to taste (if I were ever to munch on a pizza box).
    I won't be buying these again.  I prefer Against the Grain pizzas.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Turner Field Gluten Free

    Turner Field Gluten Free Food stand in section 106-112.
    **2014 update food & pics @turnerfield (scroll to Monday section of this post  here).

    Originally from the Chicago area, I'm a Cubs fan. However, living the migratory military life with The Major, I bandwagon fan whatever teams are nearby (except when they play Chicago teams)!  I have collected caps, tank tops or shirts for the Angels, Lakers, Dodgers, Cubs, Bears, Redskins, Wizards, and soon will add Braves and Falcons!
    Gluten Free hot dog, gluten free beer, and bun at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA. June 30, 2012.
    Update July 2012:  The gluten free food booth at Turner Field is still in the area between section  112.  The sign is a tomahawk slashing diagonally through a stalk of wheat in a circle as pictured.  
    Gluten free hamburger at Turner Field Summer 2011.  

    My boyfriend's gluten dog, that  dwarfs the gluten free one.
    The first time I had forced down a substandard hot dog.  I dunno what brand it was, but it didn't taste like Hebrew National, I tell ya.  Better the second time, but too much bun for a puny dog.  The second trip offered gluten free buns with chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs.  Previously, they had chili dogs, but this time, no chili.  Sides consisted of Lara Bars, Brownies, chips, cookies, and Cupcakes from American Gra-frutti.  They were temporarily out of hamburgers, so I had to wait (you know I'm not a big chicken eater, and if it's cheap, processed chick chick....iiiick!)

     A jarring moment occurred when an unobservant, preoccupied fan lugged his giant, foot-long, gluten-laden dog protruding on either end of a standard glutenous bun from a regular food stand, slopped it on the gluten free counter, and proceeded to dig in the basket of packaged ketchup and condiments with his gluteny paws to dress his dawg.   I sure wish the server, who was not busy, would've been more aware of cc and shooed him away.  Who wants crumbs of glutey bun in the basket of gf condiments?

    My gf burger was fair (equivalent to any fast-food burger), and the tapioca bun sort of held together enough for me to eat it, but it did crumble at the end and I did have ultra-messy hands after.   I plan to get it again next time.

    I also got a chocolate chip cupcake at the stand, it's American Gra-frutti brand and, in my opinion, it was not a cupcake.  It was scrumptious, but it was a muffin.  It was dense and oily, like a muffin, not light, soft,  and airy like a cupcake.    

    Finally, there are other "regular" foods that can be ok for gluten free people- cotton candy, Dippin' Dots, Ice cream, chips, smoothies, peanuts, etc.  And they DO allow you to bring your own food and water into the stadium.
    Braves Game Cupcake by American Grafrutti:
    Deeelicious, but it's a MUFFIN
    and thumbs-down on the frosting-cake ratio!

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    How to cook gluten free meals

    Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch. 
    Orson Welles

    You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients. 
    Julia Child

    I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something. 
    Mitch Hedberg

    More food quotes can be found on this website.

    I should have this printed on business cards and hand them out when necessary:

    Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent. 

    Like Julia Child says, keep it simple.  I'm no fancy cook.  I don't keep a gadget-filled kitchen.  I don't make up my own recipes.  My honey likes a duality of protein-rich grilled/baked/steamed dinners and unhealthy diner/American food.  (What is American food, you ask?  I believe it's the American versions of foods immigrants brought over, along with foods from the farm.  For example, there ain't no burritos in the real Mexico, and pizza in the U.S. ain't nothin resembling what you find in Italy, if you get my drift.)
    So here are some pictures of foods we prepare at our house.  
    Rachael Ray's Honey Chicken w/Spicy Lemon Rice: Tasty, but labor-intensive- I elaborate here

    Stuffed cabbage from allrecipes website- tastes way better than it looks!

    My Marine made dinner- Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage gluten free on Rudi's bun (so-so), veg and fruit.   He also selects the dishes, lol.

    When I plan meals for the week I consider:
    • protein variation (one fish, two poultry, one beef or pork or buffalo(buffalo has a pleasantly soft texture, and not a strong gamey flavor you might expect), one tofu/beans/vegetarian); I hate lamb, venison, etc.
    • prep time/ease of preparation (with just 2 of us, we try to cook at home at least four dinners a week, and a fifth leftover or frozen night.  I eat out 0-2 dinners and 1 breakfast  or lunch a week.)
    • price (having lived in CA where avocados are sold on the side of the road 4 for a dollar, I won't pay $2 for one; shop coupons/sales; we buy organic when it's affordable.)
    • freshness of available ingredients (I like to buy unfrozen fish and fresh cilantro and garlic, for example.)
    • flavor variation (if one meal has soy sauce, we won't pick another one with it that week) 
    • food pyramid/plate guideline (my mother taught me to shop for the 4 food groups, and I've adjusted it to be sure a plate is half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter brown rice/quinoa/starch/bread.  We mostly eat yogurt, broccoli, and drink orange juice for calcium.  I also try to limit processed foods.)

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Traveling Gluten Free: BYOF and What to Pack Travel List

    This is what I brought for a 4 day trip to Florida---Taking the grub out of the boxes/packaging obviously reduces the bulk, and I pack some in my suitcase for during the visit and some in my carry-on bag for en route, especially if there are delays. (Remember I got sick at the airport once by eating yogurt I bought in a shop there.)
    Traveling gluten free: BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)!

    Toasterbags:  If you want to toast your own gluten free bread in a public toaster, you can re-use the toaster bags up to 50 times.  It's extra fun when you're at Best Western in the self-serve free continental breakfast area with other hotel guests pouring cereal and cooking waffles, and as soon as you put the bag in the toaster, some type-A do-gooder with a savior complex swoops over and shouts that you're going to start a fire by putting plastic in the toaster.  I always say, ask! Don't assume.  Assuming makes an ass out of u and me -->ass-u-me.
    For BREAKFAST I often boil water in the hotel coffeepot (unwrap a sanitized cup they provide and use my own spoon) to make Instant Grits. Or I'll have fruit. Or I'll have a bar: Glutino breakfast bar, Glutino Granola Bar, LaraBar, or EnviroKids Chocolate Crispy Rice bar.
    Out for breakfast: I'll quiz the server: What surface are the eggs cooked on? Can my eggs be cooked in a clean pan? Do you place the bacon on bread to soak up the grease? Be sure to tell them if they use the same spatula on my food as they do to flip pancakes, I'll get sick. Clean gloves, clean pans, clean utensils. So, I order eggs, fruit, sometimes bacon, and bring my own bread. If I have toaster bags available, I'll ask the server to use those on MY bread.

    LUNCH: Udi Bread or Glutino Crackers, Justin's Peanut/Almond butter packets OR StarKist Tuna pouch, jelly packets, fruit, chips, etc.

    DINNER: I bring uncooked brown rice pasta, in case I can talk some restaurant into using a clean pot, strainer, etc. to make it for me with a little olive oil and garlic on it. Or I search on my cell phone internet-finder-doohickies to find a place to eat. In Miami we ate at Texas de Brazil (used a coupon), pricey seafood at The Place on Ocean, and twice at Pizza Fusion.

    ANYTIME: I bring my own hot cocoa packets, fruit, individual puddings, jell-o, and fruit cups, Glutino pretzels, Smoreables gluten free, Chips, Fruit snacks, Crunch N Munch, frozen baked goods that I made previously (or that my mother sends me home with), etc.

    Other Gluten Free Travel Tips:
    **Generally, I like to stay in cushy hotels, to avoid grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning like people do when they rent condos, timeshares, etc. Not only is it more of a "vacation feel" than it would be to cook and clean, but we are often pretty spontaneous on vacay and it would likely be wasteful to buy food because we wouldn't be sure we'd have time to go back to eat during or after an adventure. I also enjoy seafood and steak on vacay and don't want my place to stink like fish or whatnot during the trip.

    **I try to stockpile the food I lug along- preferring to eat out when I happen upon "old reliable" food out-and-about, such as Wendy's chili and TGIFridays in the airports. On the way home, if I'm out of fruit- I'll ante up the big bucks to buy fruit at the airport.

    **On boat trips/camping/all-day excursions I bring along my own insulated lunch bag with plasticware in the pocket and fill it with lunch stuff pictured above. If I'm staying a week or longer and my hotel room has a fridge, I might stop by a Trader Joe's or Costco and pick up some chilled cooked shrimp, tortilla chips, avocado, and salsa that I pack in baggies and bring on the trip. While everyone else is gnawing on the cheapo, dried out sandwiches provided on the trip, they eyeball and maddog my delectable entree. The tables are turned, for once.
    **Research restaurants prior to the trip- especially if you are going out to eat with a group for an occasion. Try to be knowledgeable enough to offer up your own choices in where to eat.

    **Ask restaurants to accommodate you- especially in nice hotels, they are accustomed to accommodating special requests from weary travel warriors every day.

    **Bread- I carry Udi's green or Against the Grain baguette in my purse everywhere. It makes a small meal more satisfying. Plus, it lowers the mental anguish watching your comrades devour the warm bread basket offerings at restaurants.  Sometimes I run out after the first couple days, and that's ok.

    In case you didn't get the planning gene, or if you're curious by nature--here is the list I've used for years to pack- I keep it in a clear page protector folded in my travel toiletry bag, which I keep stocked. It has helped me pack in record time for last-minute trips. I only pack pertinent items, but it helps to see the list no matter what type of trip it is. You can use a wipe-off marker to check it off through the plastic, or you could put it on your iphone:
    Gifts for those I'm Visiting
    Extra suitcase folded up to fill with stuff I acquire on the trip to bring back
    Beach Bag/sunscreen/hat/coverup/swimsuit/flipflops/towels
    beach toys
    rash guard for in the ocean
    carry-around bag for water/map/sweater/magazine, snacks,etc
    games, leisure activ.
    copy of passport/credit card cancel #, health card
    money belt
    stamps/addresses for postcards
    camera with batteries/charger/uploader cord or card
    cell phone/charger
    zip loc bags
    sports accessories: snorkel gear, camping gear, ski gear, etc.
    romantic stuff
    dental floss/toothbrush/paste
    safety pins/sewing kit
    emergency kit/band aids/etc
    travel pillow
    flashlight (or iphone app)
    antibacterial gel
    toilet paper (esp for camping)
    water bottle w filter
    important phone #s of people you stay with/pick you up, etc.
    confirmation #s for hotel, itinerary
    tickets for shows, travel, etc.
    passport, dr.license
    guide books, bus schedules
    money/ATM/cc/change for tolls
    GPS for car, if not using phone app
    personal hygiene feminine products
    day outfits/night outfits
    maps/tourist info/travel coupons
    book/reading material/travel book light
    tea/hot choc and snacks for plane
    purse: day and night
    iron/hairdryer if there is none at destination
    socks, nylons, tights, slips
    Shoes: walking, going out, flips flops, matching to outfits
    earrings, jewelry coordinated with outfits
    hair ornaments, clips, bands
    undergarments- bras: strapless? Sports?
    nail polish, file
    kleenex, deoderant (keep on carryon)
    makeup, tweezer, powder
    shower soap, face soap
    shampoo, cond
    Earplugs and Eye cover (for plane)
    Medications: allergies, Lactaid, pepto, Tylenol, cold, eyedrops
    Dramamine, airborne tablets
    Hairbrush/comb/sprays/curling iron
    pen, paper
    snacks, gluten free foods (separate list)

    On short trips, I only carry a small carryon with my purse (phone, money, allergy pills, etc), reading material, cell phone AND charger (they have free charging stations at airports and I've also plugged in inside the restrooms), snacks, eyeglasses, chapstick, sunglasses, sweater, ear plugs, antibacterial gel, airborne tablets, eyecover, and ear phones. Usually valuables: jewelry, camera
    On longer trips/overseas, I carry on MORE in case my bags get lost: deoderant, toothbrush&paste, hair brush, concealer, powder, spare outfit, camera.
    If I'm traveling with someone, I split the packable necessities with my companion. My mother once agreed to carry on the toothpaste and mini shampoo on a trip to France when her luggage was lost and we were on a tight tour schedule. The next morning, the found luggage still hadn't been dropped off, and I remember racing to find a store to buy toothpaste "dentifrice" and having a hard time even locating it WITHIN the store. I looked at my mother and said, I thought you agreed to carry it on? She said she changed her mind at the last minute and shoved it in her checked bag. Ugh.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Dr. Rudert's Insight and Gluten Free Whole Foods Atlanta: Gluten free pizza, Daniel Bousquet, gf beer, and The Vitamix

    After attending the fabulous Dr. Rudert's question and answer session about celiac disease Saturday, I learned:
    *Gluten Free for Dummies is the best selling Dummies book ever!
    *She has treated over 600 celiacs and noticed a trigger seems to be ear tubes (like my brother and I had!)
    *A lot of people dx with MS don't have MS, they have gluten ataxia
    *40% of U.S. population has celiac gene, but only 1% trigger celiac disease
    *once celiacs go gluten free, their fertility returns to normal,
    *10% of celiacs may have negative bloodwork,
    *sibo (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth)is hard to diagnose, but causes many gastro-intestinal issues and she recommends probiotics
    *Fat malabsorption in the stool is ALWAYS abnormal (one sign is an orange ring around the toilet)

    *she recommends celiacs be followed up annually with doc, testing B12, Vit.D, Thyroid, and MMA
    *and she reaffirmed that tingling, neurological issues, and NIGHT BLINDNESS are from malabsorption that celiacs get...I wish she'd email my eye doctor in Virginia who told me "no way".

    After the presentation, I sampled a new brand of baked goods: Dr. Sweet's spicy cookie (hot and inedible) and brownie (fair, decent texture, doughy in the mouth, flavor is ok- nothing to write home about), and then I pointed my baby benz in the direction of Whole Foods Sandy Springs for the Gluten Free Food Expo.

    I spent 1.5 hours sampling and talking with gluten free lifestyle livers and sample vendors.
    Gluten Free Foods I did not like:
    Chef Ricardo's Mucho Macho Tomato Sauce- It lacked body and there were herb needles in my mouth
    Sweet Oven Cheese Rolls- tasted similar to Chebe. Tasted raw-ish. I'd never eat them.

    Chef Daniel Bousquet- himself- he was MIA or talking at the Vitamix table so I never got to try his eggplant lasagna, and just because we're gluten free doesn't mean we want to eat a pile of veggies with cheese as a main course. What on earth do you eat for a side with that? The amount of water in that dish makes my stomach feel swimmy already! I need a cracker!
    Lucy's oatmeal cookies- super crunchy and tasteless. I prefer the chocolate chip, but I don't ever buy those. If I do buy cookies, I buy K-Toos or Pamela's.
    American Gra-Frutti: crackers-ok taste, but overly crunchy texture; bread- ok flavor, but sticky texture and not fluffy like Udi's (yum) or buttery like Against the Grain (2die4); I did like American Gra-Frutti's pimento spread, but frankly I don't use spreads. If anything, I use peanut butter or real slices of cheese on my crackers.
    Namaste pizza dough- too doughy, I like a crisp crust on the edge and soft inside.
    Gluten Free Foods I DID like:
    Everything the demonstrator made with the Vitamix: Soup, frozen fruit ice cream substitute, smoothies, green tea drink, and even the mocha drink (and I don't like coffee).
    American Gra-Frutti muffins, good flavor and oily texture like muffins always have
    Beanitos chips made with beans for protein and fiber- Chipotle flavor was my favorite, but if I were using guac, salsa, etc. I might get the pinto bean kind that tasted too plain alone
    1Mix protein shake-mango flavor- I liked it because it tasted less chalky, more creamy and drinkable than other protein shakes
    What I bought: Beanitos and 1Mix mango shakes, along with Against the Grain Gluten Free Pizza,

    Against the Grain Gluten Free Baguettes, Udi Multigrain bread, and Rudi Hot Dog Buns (nice texture- soft! and flavor-I ended up eating the leftover bun after the meat was gone, although it did get soggy and split in half from the condiments I slopped on there), and ChipIns white cheddar flavor. I also wrote a comment card requesting Jules Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches.
    What I WISH I had bought: VITAMIX. I asked for one for Xmas last year, but I guess I was naughty. The Vitamix demonstrator told me that I asked the wrong Santa and I need to get on Craigslist and meet a new santa! haha. My yearning for the uber chopping, blending, mixing machine began when a retired lady at my gluten free support group in CA brought a delicious

    gluten free cake that she had made from a Vitamix recipe with her Vitamix that she'd had for over 20 years. These super-frugal women in the group who wouldn't buy gf bread for the cost, all had Vitamixes! Then the best homemade food I've ever had, made by a wife of my Marine's buddy in Hawaii (whom we stayed with last year on our vacay)- she swore by her Vitamix. And how much does a Vitamix cost? Over $400. And I saw a lady walking out with one in front of me.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Gluten Free Rice Krispie Treats and Random Tidbits

    Update: I made the gluten free Rice Krispie Treats. It took under ten minutes from getting the ingredients out of the cupboard, to microwaving, to pouring in the pan. Uber simple! I enjoyed them immensely. The texture seemed to match memories of the originals.
    However, I must say that people at the potluck (I didn't share that the treats were gf) seemed to prefer to nosh on the gluteny brownies.
    Scary Moment: I brought the treats in the pan because they were still warm. So, the host grabbed them, cut them, and proceded to use his hands to place them on a plate. Luckily, there was no obvious gluten around (it was a small party, with steamed shrimp as the main course, along with corn and steamed potatoes). So, I was able to eat them. What is it with people touching other peoples' food with their HANDS? It even bothers me when they do it on Top Chef. I can't even let my mind "go there" when it comes to what happens to my food while it's being prepared in the kitchen of restaurants. I was a waitress in college. I know.

    By the way, my friend and gluten free friendly food blogger, Katja, prepared Gluten Free Rice Krispie Treats with her own spin: Lemon and almond slivers. Her blog is here.
    This is Katja's gluten free yogurt parfait that I'd like to try:

    I had my Leatherneck snap this photo of me because my dear mother wanted a pic of the apron she made me. Actually it was a fabric apron kit I got out of the sale bin at JoAnn's Fabrics and mailed to my mother to sew for me, since she's always looking for quick crafts (she has a small attention span), although she said it took 4 hours to make this. (I grew up watching my mom mend piles of cloth bags and things for relatives and declared as a child that I'd never learn to sew, I'd have a career and make enough to pay to have it done. And it has been pretty convenient, especially since I have carpal tunnel anyway!)
    And, yes, I've gained 4 lbs. since moving to Atlanta- despite running with a 5k group every week and working out at the gym. Gotta get that off!
    Breakfasts: Watermelon, banana, or gluten free Glutino peanut and chocolate granola bar (110 cal)
    Lunches: Rice Krispie treats, popsicles, and Lara Bars
    Dinners: Salmon, Wolfgang Puck's recipe for poppyseed cole slaw, Rachael Ray's Honey Chicken and Lemony Rice (very difficult to make, lots of ingredients, chopping, and clean up, but tasty! We made up for the hard work and mess by zapping the leftovers in the microwave for an easy dinner the next night, and they were delicious!), Hormel's Sweet Italian Sausages, waffle cut frozen sweet potato fries.
    Snacks/Desserts: S'mores over the campfire with Gluten Free Smorables Graham Crackers from Super Target while camping in Wisconsin (read more about my camping and other summer adventures here), Breyer's Ice Cream and Edward & Sons gluten free cones for my Marine's birthday, Minute Maid 70 calorie juice bars, veggies and hummus
    Drinks: Iced Tea, water with fresh lemon slices (never get the lemon at restaurants-they've been proven to be the germiest items around), and Low Calorie purple Gatorade

    Surprisingly, I thought it was just as superb as the book! I loved it. There wasn't a male in the theater (you must see it with gal pals). I heard some ladies sniffling. The characters were expertly cast and the 2.5 hours didn't seem long at all, allowing all the good parts from the book to be included. I was leery (which I thought was spelled leary), given that she'd allowed her childhood friend to direct it.

    SONGS: (I'm not putting anything that's already in the top ten, you can find that easy enough.)
    My Jarhead was helping me julienne stuff for the cole slaw and heard my playlist song by Trace Adkins (I love his music) for the first time, "Semper Fi". He was impressed- he does not have a country gene in his musical body. I highly recommend it. Also, I just added to my running playlist Miranda Lambert's edgy "Gunpowder and Lead" that revs me up. A romantic choice would be Leo Sayers's "More Than I Can Say", which was my grandparents' song. They eloped as teenagers and were married over 35 years.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Gluten Free Rice Krispie Treats

    The mission was to nab two boxes, one to eat as cereal and the other to make Gluten Free Rice Krispie Treats.
    Breakfast Result: It's not as nauseatingly bad of a re-make as the A-Team movie was...but the Gluten Free Rice Krispies, unlike the Gluten Free Rice Chex, are made with brown rice and taste less sweet and not as good as the original. The texture seemed pretty good. Same snap, crackle, pop. I will probably not eat it again after finishing this box. When I eat cereal, I'll stick with Rice Chex or that Organic Corn Flakes sweetened by fruit juice that I like.

    My friend Katja (from the petite indulgences cooking blog)already made the treats with lemon and almond slivers, but she said she'd try something else next time. I found this blogger whose son said the plain ones were "fine". So, I guess I'll just make mine plain. I'm taking them to a cookout tonight (Southern "Cookout"= a "barbeque" in CA, and "grilling out" in IL). I'll let you know if I should've saved my money, waited for it to come out on DVD, or got a Blockbuster on my hands.

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Jason's Deli: Gluten Free Restaurants Atlanta

    Since my LoveBug is a Marine Officer, we move frequently and we choose where to live based on safety, proximity to highways and routing against traffic to his job, proximity to Whole Foods, and lastly, the actual dwelling suitability. (We don't live on base. We're a bit nontraditional.) We lucked out to be less than a mile from many restaurants with gluten free menus: Maggiano's, Wildfire, Mimi's, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Olive Garden, Seasons 52, Five Guys, Jason's Deli, Carraba's, and Outback. My Hero has an Italian mother who doesn't cook, so he has had a lifelong habit of dining out frequently. I eat out with him about twice a week. Here's what we love about Jason's Deli:
    He only dines gluten free at home, so he orders the Southern Sandwich Sensation: Muffaletta. Seth went to Tulane University (on a Marine scholarship!), so he was delighted to treat himself to this New Orleans dish. Muffaletta is on a round Italian sesame bread (similar to foccacia), with Italian meats covered in a marinated salad of olives.

    Of course, it's not gluten free. In fact, visiting New Orleans is severely unfriendly to gluten free people- even most cornbread has gluten there-and it is awful watching everyone else revel in the culinary masterpieces from gumbo to seafood to po'boys to beignets.

    Back to Jason's Deli: I devoured my sandwich on gluten free bread, with my choice of toppings from

    the gluten free menu, served with chips and a pickle, followed by complimentary ice cream soft serve.

    I've eaten at two locations four times (My Leatherneck REALLY loves that muffaletta!) so far, and I've never gotten ill. You order at the counter and they give you a number where the server brings your food. I noticed my food comes with a piece of tissue paper on the plate. It's a tall sandwich, so with the chips and ice cream, only half a sandwich would be filling, but I usually skip breakfast before I go and eat the whole sandwich. I've read that the gf bread is packaged with its own knife to prevent cc. There is a salad bar with gluten free items, but I wasn't a big salad bar person before going gluten free, so it's not something I want to try. I've also had the loaded baked potato and it was a huge portion also. Yum!

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    California Pizza Kitchen

    I phoned in for curbside pickup:  gluten free bbq chicken pizza @California Pizza Kitchen (Perimeter Atlanta). She suggested Thai Shrimp gluten free appetizer so igot that,too. All for $23.01.   The pizza toppings were great, but the crust left me nonplussed.  It was tasteless with a cardboard texture.  I enjoyed the tangy flavor of the shrimp w the crispy rice noodles, so I'm happy to add CPK to the "acceptable" restaurant list I offer to my bf and friends when deciding where to eat out.  (Especially since it's conveniently located.)

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Innard Bliss: Gluten Free Atlanta

    New Digs! Southern hospitality is alive and well in Atlanta: neighborhood barbeques, strangers who chat and wave, and amazing food everywhere! We've been officially "peached". The peach jam, peach salsa, and peaches are all fabulous, but here's what else I've been dining on (while maintaining the ten pound weight loss I just achieved):
    Gluten Free Shopping List: The Super Target here has several gluten free products like my favorite Glutino chocolate peanut granola bars that are super chewy and only 110 calories, as well as some frozen Amy's Indian meals, Annie's organic fruit snacks, hummus with pine nuts labeled gf, lots of salad dressings labeled gf, Smoreables gluten free graham crackers, and -making a judgement call per the ingredient list-SkinnyCow mini fudge pops at 50 calories. (I also saw other crackers there, but not my preferred Glutino.)

    Sally's Bakery is like all gluten free, all the time. And I like it. They have samples of treats out for you to try before you buy. The CRAW bread is with cinnamon, raisins, almond milk, and walnuts. It's their specialty and the other two people in the shop with me also bought some. The hamburger buns were mediocre. They aren't pre-cut. The texture is thick, not airy enough, and kind of dry. Mine were in the same bag as the CRAW bread, so they tasted cinnamon-y, which isn't what you want with a burger.
    The Outback here has a gluten free bloomin onion, french fries, etc. and I have to say I felt sick afterward, but it may have been from all the grease. The onion was good, the fries ok, they were out of ribs, and I took home my hamburger (on a gf bun) because I was full-but, since I had been sick I had my Bucket o' Luv devour it the next day, rather than risk it myself.

    We have enjoyed many meals out, so reviews of Jason's Deli, Yeah! Burger, Sugo, Braves' Stadium (yuk), and a brunch place are on the horizon.
    Random Menu for a day
    (actually yesterday):
    Breakfast: nectarine and Glutino Granola bar
    Lunch: Hormel Natural gf honey ham sandwich on Sally's Gf bun with lettuce, tomato,etc.
    Snack: Strawberries, peaches, SkinnyCow fudge pop
    Dinner: Amy's frozen Indian meal with tomato and veggies with hummus

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    It's Hard to Go Back Home

    In my immediate family, I'm the only one who hasn't been arrested (yet! wink, wink), and who evaded the mine field that was growing up in a ghetto neighborhood where we lived with our mom below the poverty line (earning less than $12,000 annually for a family of four). We lived amongst perpetual cockroaches (due to parked garbage trucks near our home) and had aunts and uncles on drugs. We sometimes starved due to shortages on food stamps because my mom worked too many hours (she was stick skinny, and I recall times where she counted out the last of the food -crackers- so us 3 kids would get an equal number and not argue, while she went without), and where I was looked down upon in the neighborhood for being smart and also for not having had my own baby as a teenager, like every other girl in my area. I remember my mom forbidding me from hanging around one girl whom, at age 11, was having sex with an 18 year old on a mattress behind some trees near a bridge. My mom didn't know that fact, she just knew she was bad news. We were thankful to live next to the gov't housing projects rather than in them, and suffered through my father's rages (they were divorced when I was 4, but it didn't stop) where he would kick down the door to abuse my mother. Once I called the police (I was in third grade?) because he was strangling her by holding her against the wall by her neck, she was choking, face red, her feet dangling above the floor. He was irate because no one had picked my younger brothers and I up after school, and we had waited in the snow (my mom refused to let us go to the notorious neighborhood school and got a special permit for us to go farther away). My mom had some appointment or other that day and had pre-arranged with my dad's brother to pick us up. He obviously forgot.
    My dad never got arrested because he knew the cops and judges. I was in the truck when he'd gotten pulled over once by an "unknown" cop who'd written him a ticket. My dad got on his cb/phone thing and called a judge, who made the ticket disappear. Child support was random because he was self-employed and couldn't be garnished. My other uncle had the largest auto theft ring in U.S. history. I remember staying at my grandma's and watching him go to work release in a blue denim uniform. He died in a mysterious auto accident. My dad and his Italian business partner were always getting sued for things like entrapment with his towing business. I recall going on repo calls (to repossess vehicles behind on their bank notes) with my dad, and once after we hooked up a green jaguar, a man came running out with a shotgun and shot at us, my dad shouting at us to get down on the floorboards of the truck. My mom eventually remarried someone with a touch less of a temper, so much like my father, that he was often mistaken for him. One day we were in a tuxedo shop with my dad and when I told him to explain what was going on, he blurted out that his girlfriend of the month (he was a charmer-when one girl moved out, the next day another one moved in) had a bun in the oven and they were getting married the next day. Ironically, she was built pretty solid (unlike my tiny mom) and although they moved out-of-state, I heard she hit him with a frying pan once.
    My grandparents on both sides went to school through 8th grade, my parents graduated high school, and I won a dean's list scholarship to a very good private university two hours away. After my dad screamed at me about who did I think I was, going to some fancy college- I had asked him to go halves with me on buying my books- I had a revelation that he wasn't a good parent and I was done torturing myself with him in my life. We haven't spoken since. Upon graduating college (he showed up uninvited, but never found me), I got a job in California and never looked back. Away from my mom's husband drama (he'd get mad and push her out of the car or leave her at the grocery store, or I'd come home from college for xmas and he'd beat her and I'd call the cops-once my mom pushed her stepdaughter with her index finger and was arrested for battery, so I had to bail her out on xmas eve), and the rest of my family (my brother stole my car I'd saved for --painstakingly walking to work at a gas station one summer, and got a 16 yr old girl pregnant when he was 18) and my other brother was a pothead who couldn't walk through graduation...away from all that, I flourished, bloomed, reveled in the peace and harmony of life.
    Although, sadly I can't get away from my father (he sobs and makes big scenes upon catching a glimpse of me when I fly back for weddings or baptisms), or his genes- his last "gift" to me is celiac disease- I've forgiven him, but I can't forget. I realize he wasn't able to be any more than what he was, but I have to distance myself from the craziness. I know he loves me, but he is the one who missed out on the wonderful opportunity to be involved in my brothers' and my life. (My brothers have made it through their strife. Not that I inspired them, but they say they didn't want to let me be the only college graduate, so they quit factory life and went to community college, then four-year degrees themselves!) Recently, a half-sibling tagged me in a photo- one of my name tattooed on my dad's arm. My brothers were too young to remember the worst, and that's their blessing, but they keep in touch with him, so I'll see him at a wedding on Saturday and hopefully I can avoid his center-of-attention drama-seeking. Last wedding, he grabbed my hand and started dancing with me, then got the DJ to coax me onstage to sing karaoke-with him. Although we've still never spoken. I was traumatized and avoided weddings for years. So hopefully I can avoid that crazy train this time.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Katz Gluten Free

    Katz Gluten Free has a promotion where if you pay for the shipping ($8 for me), they'll send you a free sampler box of gluten free baked goods.
    All of their stuff is dairy and nut free, for those who need that. For me, I like nuts- the people and the food- because they add flavor and texture to life. So, I sweetly asked my Marine to get out his credit card and voila! I received the package in a few days. Since I'm watching my weight, each day I try one small item.
    So far I have tried the chocolate chip cookie (heavy on the brown sugar, didn't enjoy it), marble cake (dry, lacking in flavor), chocolate cupcake (superior texture, mild in flavor-I wouldn't buy it since I like to taste the chocolate if I'm eating the calories), and honey muffin (excellent texture, excellent flavor-I'd buy them).
    I've yet to try the dinner roll, rugelech (pinwheel pastry?), and slices of bread (challah, wholesome, whole grains and white).

    It's not surprise I saved bread for last, because I'm a bit of a bread snob, methinks, and I offer no apology for it. Frankly, in 2005 when I started out, I hated all the breads available to me. I only ate homemade offerings from the retired ladies at my celiac support group in California. So now I pretty much indulge myself- meaning, you will not find me chiseling frozen bread. I only eat the bread that you thaw the whole loaf on the counter, not chiseling a slice and putting the rest back in the freezer. Rudi, Udi, and Against the Grain are my staples.
    Occasionally, if there is a brand I've used favorably in the past, and it's on sale for super cheap, I will buy it- Kinnickinnick or Whole Foods (got a loaf on sale last week). My Marine (who is not picky and eats many of the gf pastas, pancakes, and Bell&Evans gf breaded chicken), does not like any gluten free bread at all. He chooses to go without bread and buns at home, waiting to inhale the real deal out in restaurants. He eats a sandwich and soup every day at a deli or lunch cart.
    I have baked some good stuff myself, but then I have to freeze most of it (defeating the point of making it fresh-as well as hogging freezer space), or eat it (which is how I gained weight last winter). So, I've pretty much resorted to buying a 4pack of Udi Chocolate cupcakes or muffins, a single cupcake from Red Velvet Cupcakery (divine!), or a peanut butter bomb or brownie from Buzz Cafe down the street from me. If I can find French Meadow Bakery goodies, I'll get those. Other than that, I eat mainstream indulgences that don't contain gluten (I have never liked cheesecake, creme brulee, meringue cookies, or tapioca, all of which are usually recommended for us and doled out on cruises and in restaurants-I didn't like the food accommodated for me on my cruise). I will try to link to my list of sinful foods later.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Dear Newly Diagnosed Celiac, Gluten Free Living is a Journey...

    Try to remember-it's the rainy days that help us appreciate the sunny ones. Maybe reading gluten free books, blogs, or message boards could help validate your feelings and give you eating ideas. Sometimes, your mind will jump to plenty of excuses of why you can't or why the ideas seem unrealistic, but try to focus on the "can" and the "I'll try" attitude.

    Yes, I had a hard time eating the gluten free baked goods and stuff with the flour blends and guar gum (which is a natural laxative!) and xantham gum and all that stuff. Celiacs often suffer from lactose intolerance for a variety of reasons, so maybe avoid dairy at first?

    Some quick food ideas that come to mind-that have pure ingredients with minimal processing, or have always been gluten free without substituted ingredients:

    Smoothies (I even eat Jamba Juice) If you don't want dairy, use a gluten-free soymilk or rice milk or almond milk
    apple with peanut butter and Udi granola
    Craisins, make your own gluten-free trail mix
    potato chips or tortilla chips (just corn, oil, salt-even baked ones)-make nachos with soy cheese or just salsa
    soup-some Progresso soups are labeled gluten free and they just have vegetables and gluten free broth
    eggs, egg salad, deviled eggs, omelettes
    tuna, tuna salad
    jell-o, M&Ms (lots of flavors)
    cereal- Rice Chex, gluten free health cereals- I like Nature's Path Organic Corn Flakes gluten free...alone or with milk substitutes above
    quinoa- it's a seed, so it shouldn't be that hard on you, especially if you tolerate rice- I cook in Swanson Chic Broth and add peas
    brown rice pasta- the ones I use only have brown rice and water as ingredients, so if you can eat rice...

    Try a variety of fruit- blackberries, kiwi, starfruit, pineapple, guava, mango, etc. Put on skewers like a fruit kabob

    Norpro 5-Piece Garnishing Tool Set
    Corn tortillas- buy the fresh kind with just corn masa flour and water and salt- top with black beans, soy cheese, salsa, etc.
    Hummus, salsa, pico de gallo, and other gluten free toppings

    There's also a list online called 50 gluten-free Things You Can Eat Right Now
    This has been described as the toughest diet there is, and I've read it takes 3 years to get a good handle on it, so be patient with yourself. It's a journey. You will buy expensive things that you end up throwing away, spend lots of time making things and shopping for things that you won't like. Lots of gluten free stuff doesn't have preservatives, so it goes bad quickly, too. You may even "poison" yourself unwittingly. It's a long road, so educate yourself and be patient.
    SPOIL YOURSELF in ways that you can. Buy fancy bath stuff, go to the cooking store and buy a garnishing tool set (mine was $7) to make the foods you can eat (like fruit) look special and appetizing, buy yourself some flowers, start an herb garden to use on your salads, buy new dishes, toaster, utensils, so you know it's "safe". Call yourself and your diet "special" and others "regular" (not normal) or mundane or plain or run-of-the-mill or white bread. Change your language and change your thinking. Attend a support group (ask at your doctor or search online). I learned so much going to a cdf celiac convention and found so many products and resources. Do a celiac 5k or run and raise money and awareness for your new cause! Be glad you don't need shots or medicines or dialysis, just a diet! Dump your shampoo with hydrolized wheat protein and questionable makeup and buy new, gluten free ones! Express your feelings, coin fun terms for your new circumstances (my friends call me silly-as$, a play on the word celiac), write a poem or journal about it. And on and on!
    Best wishes to you on your path...

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Gluten Free Dining Out: WILDFIRE and dining in: fried chik n pancakes

    The 5k runs we did in April and the almost daily workouts are wearing me out like Steven Tyler wears out sticks of eyeliner or Gallagher wears out sledgehammers or undiagnosed celiacs wear out toilet paper. So, when I twisted my ankle the other day while walking, I took it as a signal to rest.
    Aside from playing Scrabble online, we have tried some new recipes. Check out my recipe box here. Note: I rate them after I make them, so they aren't all favorites. I don't generally repeat the 3 star or lower ratings.
    Seth has come a long way in his cooking abilities and found and made his first recipe without any help-Baked Chicken with Saltine Crackers. Well, I guess he did ask me to help him find our gluten free crackers (Glutino). He LOVED it, rated it five stars, and devoured the leftovers the next day. (Sadly, the picture got lost on his half-broken, cracked up iphone.) I'm not big on chicken, but I did like it. The buttery, crunchy chicken coating was comfort-food savory, and the fact that it was baked and not fried helped me eat it without guilt (I lost 4 lbs in April). I take the skin off when I cook chicken, but I was not the cook. I stay out of his way! I'm just tickled to see my marine (whose middle name used to be Applebee's) become more confident in our little gluten free kitchen...or any kitchen.
    Today I gave him a respite from pancake duty (he makes the BEST banana pancakes with Barbara's mix or Bisquick or The Cravings Place mix), and I tried the Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake Mix

    . The ingredients are healthier than chemical-laden Bisquick, and they baked up fluffy, but the taste was lacking and the texture was dry. I only ate half my pancake. He ate two, but said his fave is still Bisquick.
    Since I enjoyed Wildfire in Atlanta, Seth obliged me here at Tyson's Corner, and we both enjoyed a fabulous meal. Since they were running a half hour late for our reservation, they comped us an appetizer, so I chose the pizza. It was light, crisp, and flavorful. The crust was so thin, it was perfect for an appetizer to share. Then I had the prime rib (juicy and divine), a gluten free roll (thick, warm, great texture, and delectable) and the roasted vegetables (abundant variety and deliciously drizzled with basalmic).

    Seth had filet mignon (great), mashed potatoes (good), and a starter salad loaded with chopped veg and a delightful house dressing he raved about. The salad and cornbread filled him up so much, he brought half his meal home for leftovers. The key lime pie (not gluten free) passed muster for my native Floridian marine, also. I love Wildfire's menu. They even noted the gluten free options on the separate 3 course "deal" menu. However, they didn't list the fish sandwich here, which is what I loved so much at the Atlanta location. The waiter said the manager has to sign off on every gluten free order and that they take major precautions in the kitchen with very specific procedures. It shows. Bravo, Wildfire! Funny, that their location here is next door to Legal Seafoods and P.F. Chang's, so I could eat at any of them, but I'd choose Wildfire every time! In fact, I'm lusting to try the pasta with shrimp sometime soon!

    Gluten Free Favorites