Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Recipes, Links, and Pictures

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 WAS  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 planned on preparing for Turkey Day, some updates added in from AFTERward:

  • Gluten Free Turkey (remember some poultry is injected with gluten containing flavorings/broths). BEST GLUTEN FREE TURKEY: Brined turkey from Trader Joe's. SUPER JUICY, even the gluten-eaters loved it.  I've tried Shelton's before, but it didn't knock my socks off.  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-full stuffing, do not put it in the turkey!
  • Gluten Free Stuffing - **The KEY is to TOAST the gluten free bread in the OVEN before you make it and to NOT stuff it in the bird (sog city).  The BEST gluten free STUFFING EVER is Emeril's simple recipe link here with Against the Grain Baguettes toasted in oven. I'm adding more bacon this year.  I've tried others: 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, but I've never tried it.  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 and cornbread from Sally's GF Bakery in Sandy Springs, GA.
  • I also recommend ordering from THE SILLY YAK Bakery here.  They ship from Wisconsin.  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.
  • pumpkin muffins I made- flavorful and MOIST, although not "quick & easy" as recipe describes
  • Desserts:  Here is the BEST moist pumkin muffin recipe (although not all that simple- you have to let the batter "rest", for example). Gluten Free Hello Dolly Bars (my mom just subs gf ingredients, but there is a recipe in the 2011 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 ***BEST Gluten free Chocolate cream pie with BEST PIE CRUST-  gf graham crumb crust- just substitute S'morables gf graham crackers-  and mix w/melted butter like a regular graham cracker crust.  I get them at SUper Target or WHole Foods. 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.  I get it at Trader Joe's along with alcohol-free vanilla extract and real vanilla beans- did you know vanilla comes from orchids?  
  • Drinks:  Rhubarb wine, water, apple cider, soda, milk, and PUMPKIN LATTEs with VitaMix!
  • Ask guests to bring: Drinks, flowers, cranberry sauce, crudite, cool whip, ice cream, yams, gr.beans, or hummus.  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).
  • 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.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gluten Free Cupcake Wars

WINNER:  Black Velvet gluten free cupcake from Red Velvet Cupcakery.

OVERALL WINNER:  The only one I'd buy every day, all day (way better than my own baking) is black velvet cupcake from Red Velvet Cupcakery in D.C.  A light crunch on the muffin-top area's exterior, perfect deep, fudgy flavor, light texture (neither crumbly nor dense) and amount of frosting.  Heaven in your hand.  And the cupcake elves are aware enough to put on a clean glove to grab it with. On the website they describe it as:  This light, moist chocolate cake uses the best Valrhona cocoa powder complemented by a chocolate buttercream” to make a vegan, gluten-free cupcake truly like no other. 
SECOND PLACE in this region is Sweet 27 in Baltimore, MD.  Peanut butter or oreo cupcakes.  Really, all of them were awesome.  However, they upset my stomach and lack the crispy top I love.

GF Cutie:  The Devil Came Down to Georgia is their signature cupcake that sells out daily from this totally gf bakery.

GEORGIA WINNER:  Gluten Free Cutie in Roswell, GA.  See my full review with photos of this totally gfree bakery's wide selection of goodies here.

Sally's Bakery Red Velvet Gluten Free Cupcake
STORE-BOUGHT WINNERS:  Whole Foods Market frozen chocolate with chocolate frosting.  Defrost for 30+ seconds in microwave (watch to remove before frosting collapses).  Rich chocolate flavor, soft, fluffy texture.  Another worth purchasing: Sally's Bakery Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting.

And if Gigi's cupcakes are overkill on the frosting, American Gra-futti cupcakes (from the Braves game and Sandy Springs Whole Foods Market)  are greasy and dense like a muffin, not a cake.  Plus Gra-frutti are underkill on the frosting-it's barely a pat-o-butter portion.  Frosting-to-cake ratio is important on cupcakes, you see.  This, coming from a former frosting flouter, no less!  (As a kid, I used to plop cake frosting-side-down on my plate and lift the cake off of it's sugary cap to devour, leaving a buttery, sugary, uneaten mass on the dish.)
Nowadays, since The Big Gluten Free Funnel has whittled my diet (no croissants, turnovers, cannoli, etc.), I have learned to appreciate foods I never took a second look at before.  Grits, macaroons, polenta, and fudge have also been upgraded from the D-List to the A-List.  I guess this is a good thing.  Unless you're in a French Cafe or Patisserie.  So, frosting is a new addition to my "likes" list.

Gigi's Cupcakes- pretty to look at, I didn't finish it. Not tasty.
American Grafrutti

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gluten Free Cutie- I Finally Love a Cupcake in Atlanta area!

Gluten Free Cutie's Gluten Free Whoopie Pie
With visions of Red Velvet Cupcakery's gluten free black velvet cupcake in my head (from when we lived in DC area last year- see my cupcake wars blog post here), I have been settling for frozen Whole Foods Markets chocolate cupcakes because they are the tastiest I could get my hands on.  Well, finally, I have found a DELICIOUS cupcake place in Roswell, GA, about 20 minutes from mi casa.
Gluten Free Cutie is a boutique bakery with shabby-chic interior-even a porch swing inside- where all offerings are gluten free, dye free, egg free, peanut free and some dairy free.  It's a mom & pops shop with close attention to detail and a variety of gluten free goodies, from apple pie and buns to quiche.  I sampled several items:

Whoopie Pies- they were ok...fudgy, dense, a touch dry with a filling resembling marshmallow fluff.  Didn't finish it.  A bite was enough.

Apple-Pie-In-A-Jar which was flavorful and served warm with a flaky, buttery crust and sugary, crumbly topping- 5 stars!

Cake Pops that were loaded with flavor, but overly sweet for my taste.  Didn't finish mine.

and, of course,

 Cupcakes  that were all with a great, fluffy-ish texture, great flavors from which to choose, many with fillings and lovely and tasty frostings (not that overly sugary buttercream, more like a soft, mushy, frosting with a bit of a marshmallow-like texture to it) and toppings.  Two thumbs way up for the best-seller, The Devil Went Down to Georgia!  Seth (part-time gluten-eater) loved it as well!  I also loved the Cinnamon one and the peach one with peach fruit inside.  The Smore's one was pretty good, with a springy, marshmallow "frosting" with a hint of graham cracker flavoring and a chocolate cake with chocolate-filled center.
     Best of luck to the newly open Gluten Free Cutie!  Seth felt the inside of the shop was a bit loud acoustically, with it hard to have an intimate conversation without everyone hearing you, or you hearing them.  I would suggest that they partner with Sally's (frozen foods) Bakery to sell frozen baked goods in larger quantities that people can take home, while bringing in more traffic for GFC.  I think it's a tough row to hoe for gluten free only places to go it alone.

Cake Pops from Gluten Free Cutie

Inside of Gluten Free Whoopie Pie

Gluten Free Apple Pie In A Jar

Flaky, light, delectable gluten free pie crust!

S'mores/Campfire gluten free cupcake

The fillings inside the cupcakes add something special!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to Make Gluten Free Granola

Gluten Free Granola, made with honey, nuts, raisins, and Bob's Red Mill gluten free certified oats. 
It was at-home cuddle-time movie night.  My Marine helped me make homemade gluten free granola for a movie snack to layer atop peanut butter apple slices as we watched Our Idiot Brother, a movie that actually had a very realistic portrayal of a parole officer (like me!) played by one of my favorite actors, Sterling Brown, the guy who plays Roland on Army Wives!
Anyway, I looked up a regular granola recipe here. We subbed Bob's Red Mill gluten free certified oats, and added some sunflower seeds, ground flax, and pumpkin seeds (sex drive boosters, it's true- see here).  It was super quick and easy to make, smelled fantabulous and tasted great, even before baking.  This stuff had me asking, WHY did I ever buy gluten free granola???

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Questionable Pan-fried Gluten Free French Toast

2 Breads Gluten Free Whole Foods White Bread and Light White Bread made as classic French Toast.  
Seth (who doesn't care for GF bread at all) loved it.  He gobbled up all of his and one of mine.  I liked the bottom piece ok (the smaller, "Whole Foods White Bread").  It was a bit spongy and springy in texture, but tasted fine.  The larger, "light white"WF gf bread piece was too soggy to me, and I didn't like it at all.  Most of the recipes I google for gluten free french toast are for baking it, or call for baking your own bread first.  All that is too much work.  I grew up with a single mom who just threw stuff in a pan and stayed skinny doing it (we didn't use real butter or real cream or other stuff that the chubbier moms used).  Although she did whisk up her own cinnamon syrup, which I won't share the recipe.  It's too special.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dining Gluten Free at Random Greasy Spoon Diners

(RANDOM)DINERS-No gf menu- I will often eat at random diners (especially while traveling and desperate for fresh and hot food) as long as I trust the server is listening to my needs, and especially when I can SEE them preparing the food. I explain my "allergy", cc, and order an omelet or eggs to be cooked in a clean pan (rather than the grill), with clean utensils. Sometimes I'll order hash browns or grits, after much interrogation. Bacon, I have to ask if they set it on bread to drain the grease. Fruit, juice, or yogurt round-out the meal.  Sometimes, I bring my own gf bread or biscuit.  Remember, celiacs HATE IHOP with a passion- IHOP even puts gluteny pancake batter in their EGGS-not recommended, steer clear!

Pizza Fusion- SOOO GOOOD!

Gluten free pizza at Pizza Fusion in Miami, FL, 2011.

Cake-like, tasty gluten free brownie at Pizza Fusion.

PIZZA FUSION-chain w/multiple locations-gf options on reg menu-We don't have one near us in Atlanta, but we eat at Pizza Fusion when we travel.  Well-trained staff and consistently good gluten free pizza with a thicker crust and better toppings than most places is why we like it.  They also have a really good cake-like, gluten free, fluffy brownie.  I love it here!  The gluten free menu is great!  Order at the counter, very casual, similar to a fast-food atmosphere.

Buckhead Pizza- Pretty Good Pizza!

Shrimp FLATBREAD at Buckhead Pizza Company in Georgia.  Pretty good, but similar to the pizza.  Thicker than most gf crusts.
BUCKHEAD PIZZAgf pizza crust available on reg menu-multiple locations in Atlanta area-I like the gf pizza here.  The crust is not too thin and doesn't get too mushy.  They serve Redbridge gluten free beer.  It tends to take a long time and be busy and loud there.  One time I got a burned pizza that took almost an hour.  Some locations have entertainment at night.  They also have a gf flat bread that is from the same pizza dough.  

Yeah! Burger

Hot Dog on a gluten free bun with fries from a dedicated gluten free fryer at the eco-friendly Yeah! Burger.  
(Atlanta-Virginia Highlands & West End on Howell Mill)-gf menu-I recommend this place.  GF onion rings, fries, buns, hot dogs, etc.  I prefer the fries over the onion rings (I make my own onion rings with Orgran bread crumbs that are far superior).  The West End location grills the buns and has better service.  The buns fall apart, but who cares?  The hot dog is tasty.  Good food, diner atmosphere.  I also found a coupon when I checked in on my cell phone on Facebook and Foursquare.  They also have a frequent diner card.  They even had a copy of a gluten free magazine to peruse while I waited.  Casual, you order at the counter.  Indoor and outdoor seating.

Good Grub Subs Lives Up To Its Name: Alpharetta, GA

My gluten free hoagie BLT and an Udi's chocolate chip cookie at Good Grub Subs in 2012.

GOOD GRUB SUBS-Alpharetta, GA-non-gf items marked on reg menu- I like their sandwiches.  They use a large size of Udi bread and offer Udi cookies and stuff.  They also have a gluten free hoagie bread.  The bread can be a bit dry and crumbly, but it is good as gluten free bread goes.  The toppings are great.  I think they use Boar's Head, but not sure.  Mufaletta gluten free?  Yep!  Wide variety of sandwiches here!

Cheeseburger in Gluten Free Paradise

Bacon Cheeseburger on Gluten Free Bun at Cheeseburger in Paradise with freshly fried potato chips.

Potato Chips with nacho toppings, a gluten free appetizer I eat as a meal when I'm being naughty.
My boyfriend loves Cheeseburger in Paradise.  There is a sports bar here and it's right near Perimeter Mall in Atlanta.  I've had most everything on the gluten free menu: burgers on gf buns, bbq chicken sandwich, salads, fish, fish sandwich.  It's all tasty and filling.  It's very loud there.  The managers bring your food out when you are gluten free.  The gluten free bun is fine, it does fall apart.  I'm happy for any gf bun.  I had an odd experience at a location in Florida where the manager got confused about gluten free and fryers, but I never did get sick.

Peter's of Dunwoody

We went to Peter's of Dunwoody, in Dunwoody, GA, based on a friend's recommendation of their gluten free chicken parmesan that is to-die-for.  Well, I must say, we went without reservations on a Friday night and there was no wait.  The totally nineties, frumpy, brown dining room was almost empty, and we were the only patrons under age 50.  To our amazement, the frowning hostess took it upon herself to ask if we'd called ahead.  My Marine and I exchange glances.  Should we go wait at PF Chang's?
The waiter was less frowny, but when asked what was gluten free, he apologized profusely and said only pasta.  Due to my friend's recommendation, I asked for the chicken parmesan, and was served a delicious chicken parmesan, without breading, over gf pasta (which seemed to be corn pasta, not my fave).  Now you know, chicken is NOT my favorite.  This chicken was JUICY, the marinara sauce was flavorful, and the pasta was ok.  The Major's gluteny lobster ravioli was amazing, he says.  I brought my own Against the Grain baguette.
 It was a nice meal, but we were not full afterwards- I skip lunch on days I know I'm dining out for dinner.  I wish it had been served with veggies.  Seth enjoyed the caesar salad and I loved the caprese salad (mozz & tomato with a green dressing).  Seth also had spumoni ice cream and coffee, which was served in a country mug decorated with little birds on a branch, just like at Grandma's house!  In the nineties, of course.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gluten Free Breakfast or Brunch Restaurant: Egg Harbor Cafe

Sandy Springs, GA- GF menu-My vote for best gf breakfast menu!  Offers gf pancakes (not listed on menu), chiquaquilles (tortilla/egg dish),  lettuce wrap club, frittatas, omelettes, scrambles, skillets, Eggs Benedict, grits, and what I chose: Geneva Rosti:  A delightful blend of grated potatoes, two eggs, bacon and onion baked with Jack and Cheddar cheeses and topped with sour cream 8.95.  I brought my own bread with me (thawed a piece of Whole Foods cheap and non-crumble, thus easily travel-able bread) and asked them for jam-- which they make homemade, their own recipe of a blend of 4 berries, which was scrumptious.  I skipped butter.  The Rosti was awesome, not too much cheese, not greasy like omelets can be, just fresh-baked tastiness.  The strawberry orange juice was tangy and delish, my first ever.  

Great menu, great food, and the service was...impeccable!  They leave a mini coffee pot and water carafe on your table so you don't have to wait for refills!  The gluten free menu is extensive-two pages- and has a variety, from traditional to southwest egg breakfast dishes.  The staff don't bat an eye at the mention of gluten free, and no mistakes were made.  No issue with me bringing my own bread.  Offers of extra side item since I couldn't eat the English Muffin main menu items come with.  They had a wait when we went at 11AM (we were watching Wimbledon this morning), but it was only 15 minutes.  The ambience is homey and Midwestern, with lots of stained glass, ceramic chickens, and baskets around. Most of their locations are in Illinois, my home state, and the bacon was flavorful and the decor was like home.  And it's next door to SALLY'S Gluten Free Bakery!  (Why Sally's doesn't sell them bread/danishes to serve, is beyond me!)  That would be TOO PERFECT!  Anyway, my boyfriend will be cooking fewer weekend breakfasts now.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five Seasons Brewery: Gluten Free Dinner & Beer in Atlanta

Duck Egg "small plate".  A stronger flavor and more dense than chicken eggs.
Sturgeon with blue potatoes and mushroom gravy.  Tasty, but pricey.
Fish tacos a friend enjoyed.

Buckwheat handmade gluten free pizza crust.  Paper-thin and flavorful, with light toppings.

Paper-thin.  Literally. 
                                                            For my full review, look here.

Little Azio's Gluten Free Pizza (and pasta)

Look what I found on the Find Me Gluten Free iPhone app: Little Azio's Pizza- an Atlanta chain! They have gf pizza crust and pasta. I had the gf pizza -$2 upcharge. It cost $11 and was the size of a large dinner plate.  The quality and freshness of the toppings is amazing! Yum! The crunchy, rolled edge of the crust is great and the texture of the crust is neither crumbly, nor gummy.  The flavor of the crust has room for improvement- needs olive oil n spices, but it is a great, uncrumbly vehicle for toppings! I visited the East Atlanta location in a trendy, little shopping block.  Inside Azio's is a casual, contemporary atmosphere. You order at the counter. There is a Cupcakery next door that told me they are in development stages of a gf cupcake. More suckers trying to reinvent the wheel!  I'd buy a Betty Crocker gf cupcake if they made those!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Basic Training

GF Glutino Pretzels, Sunrise Cereal, Lundberg's Rice Cakes, KToos Cookies, Ian's Wafer Bites, Annie's Organic Fruit Snacks, Love Grown Granola, Cheetos,  EnviroKids Krispy Rice Bars, and Lara Bars (an aquired taste).
     After serving as a teacher/new teacher mentor/summer school admin for at-risk youth for 13 years,  I lost my passion.  The factors included:  unsafe school campus (we had a closed campus, but my principal would not enforce it- even after teachers were robbed at gunpoint in the teacher's lounge of another school nearby), not having a cost-of-living increase for 5 years, health benefits getting pulled, furlough days, morale way down at work (especially every March when pink slips came out- that lasted well into June when coworkers' fates were finally determined), my principal's obsession with teaching to the test (illegally emailing us what content was on the test ahead of time was the straw that broke the camel's back for me), having the lunch ladies illegally babysit kids while we tutored other kids during instructional time, and parents who were more concerned about their child's school pictures than helping them memorize their multiplication tables, refusing to get their child eye exams &glasses (even when free or income-based fee), and habitually pulling kids out of school for multi-week vacations and on Friday afternoons to avoid traffic, my classroom and personal car getting graffiti and damaged, etc.
     It just started to feel like I was someone with a Master's Degree that was being used as a basic skills tutor,  doing more and making less, spending my own money on work stuff or my own time trying to fund basic needs like scissors through, paying CA's sky high taxes while the parents of my students worked "under the table", begging parents to help their own children get enough sleep or free eyeglasses, helping kids grow 2 or 3 years in their reading level, but it didn't matter because they still didn't test at grade level, with all the respect of a babysitter.  I was starting to regret refusing a job offer at age 22 to be a shoe buyer for a major retail chain starting at $80,000.  It was safe to say I was ready for a change.
     I shocked everyone who knows me and took a leave of absence, rented out my house, left my car in California, and spent ten months in Virginia/D.C. area with my new boyfriend while he was in a full-time Master's Degree program (paid for by the military, when I had to pay for mine and work full time while doing it).  He went to school half a day and didn't work, so I didn't work.   I rode my bicycle or the metro, volunteered at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (Master's degree required, you have more respect than teachers get- and you get to attend lectures and learn!- we hadn't been allowed to go to conferences or workshops in years at my job!), tutored kids at a local school, honed my cooking and crafting skills, attended gluten free groups and a dinner club, visited tons of museums, adopted cats, began a novel, moved my blog, and nurtured my relationship.  And I realized I didn't miss teaching!
     So, I started reading motivational books about changing careers while my boyfriend got his new orders- to be Commanding Officer of Recruiting Station Atlanta, a feather in his cap, but he wasn't going to Afghanistan like he wanted, and we weren't moving back to California, like we expected.
     Once settled in Atlanta, I decided to use my other degree in Sociology and thought I might become a probation officer.  I passed the Criminal Justice test, and ended up taking a job as a Parole Officer instead.  I would be using many of the skills I'd developed as a teacher- assessing and coordinating resources to meet the needs of the individual and working with a disadvantage population- but the law enforcement side (doing arrests on a daily basis, working with convicted murderers face-to-face, serving warrants at houses, carrying weapons, etc.) was going to be a new and challenging experience.
     Starting a new job, celiac has come up many times.  My first day, they threw a welcome party with donuts and my boss announced he was taking me out to lunch between jail visits, when I luckily steered us toward Chic-Fil-A and luckily didn't get cc.  The standard birthday cakes, holiday treat tables, coworkers' prodding "try this" while holding a spoon to my face, etc.  have all occurred.  And my extra challenge:  eight weeks of  cafeteria food during basic training.  Pictured above are the foods I purchased to take with me from Whole Foods and Kroger.  (Parolees clean the dorms, so everything must be kept under lock and key, and no fridges.)
     My Meal Plans:  
Breakfasts:  Sunrise Cereal or EnviroKids Krispy Rice Bar with fruit from cafeteria 
Lunches:  Lara Bar with fruit/veg from cafeteria
Dinners:  Careful considerations of rice or beef, and veg from cafeteria, supplemented by my rice cakes, pretzels, and gf bread w/peanut butter packets I bring. 
Snacks and desserts:  gluten free cookies, wafers, fruit snacks, chips, apple dipped in p.b. and granola 

     So far, I like most parts of the job.  I enjoy helping my parolees.  Once we build a rapport, they somewhat enjoy my phone calls/visits and we laugh.  They seem surprised and enjoy that I treat them like a person more than a convict.  They made a mistake and paid a debt to society, but shouldn't let their life be defined by that mistake.  It's almost all tied to drug and alcohol abuse, which is the major need area to address.
     I hate doing urine screens.  I hate working in a stark office, with bathroom stalls falling apart, with parolees cleaning it instead of professional cleaners.  (I've always wanted to work in a nice, clean office with lovely reception areas, but I hate being tethered to a desk and I'd NEVER work in a cubicle!)  I love how a day can be going along, somewhat peaceful or boring, just calls and computers, and suddenly I find out I have an absconder that got caught and I need to interview her/him in jail, or a K-9 comes to check a car, or we arrest people in our office for violations of parole, or someone runs away in hand cuffs.  Like teaching, every day is different.
     I am sad when my parolees test positive for drugs, and happier than you would imagine when they find jobs!  And, I enjoy shooting (targets, not so sure about anything else), learning, and visiting the jails and prisons.  I grew up in a bad neighborhood, below the poverty line, to a teen mom, and I beat the odds and got a scholarship, a ticket out.  I grew up with neighbors and relatives who had run-ins with the law, have always read and studied about it.  My grandfather, my inspiration, ran a community center, wore holey shoes, and brought strangers home to our Thanksgivings.  I hope I can touch lives the way he did, and that I succeed at this new adventure.  Wish me luck! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gluten free flourless choc dome at PF Chang's- a staple for dining out all over the US

I've had this dessert in New Orleans, California, Georgia, and Hawaii, to name a few states.  I love it, and it never fails to have a fudgy texture, but more rich and less sugary than fudge.  This dessert makes "regular" diners beg you to share!

P.F.Chang's gluten free shrimp w lobster sauce

PF Chang's gluten free shrimp with lobster sauce was not what I expected.  The sauce was like a clear-ish gravy with lots of scrambled egg (mine had an eggshell, oops!) that made horror flick liquid strings when you ate it.  I won't order this again.  I'll stick to the Singapore Noodles, Fried Rice, Spicy Beef, etc.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Buffalo chicken Crepe Revolution in Smyrna, GA

Lip-tinglingly picante, tastes like buffalo wings without the messy bones and stuff.  The gluten free crepe looked lighter in color and had more air bubbles than my companion's gluteny version.  Tasted light with a rice flavor.

Crepe w lemon filling at Crepe Revolution in Smyrna, GA

Crepe Revolution (Smyrna, GA) gluten free lemon crepe with raspberry drizzle.  The lemon to crepe ratio was a bit lopsided, but it still tasted fabulous!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dunwoody Bakery

Dunwoody Gluten Free Bakery extended its hours and is open until 2 on Sat, so we went today. The verdict is: nothing earth-shattering.
We sampled: muffins (one was chalky and the other lacked flavor), chi brownies (good flavor, a bit oily), protein bar (Seth loves pb- eats it str8 from jar)so he liked it. It didn't appeal to me. I don't like scones or macaroons. The cookies didn't look good.
We bought: Cake pops (red velvet-neither of us liked them- the flavor was off). Won't buy again. Seth bought a peanut butter block, er, protein bar, and I bought Pure Knead buns.
In sum, it was a bit disappointing. I would recommend that they make stuff real bakeries have: tarts, pies, donuts, turnovers, etc. Nobody wants a cookie that looks like a dried out dough ball.
Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Be My Gluten Free Valentine

First things first:  Here is the link to a good list of gluten free Valentine Candy.  This site also has a blog with weekly gluten free menu planning with recipe links!  They eat way too much chicken for me, but if you like chicken, you'll love it!  If you want to try your hand at gluten free Valentine treat recipes, look here.

Now, it is time to reminisce on how being gluten free has affected Valentine's Days in the past:

A guy I was dating returned from a bowling tournament in Las Vegas (it was only a 3 hour drive from my CA house, so not a big-deal trip) and brought me a tank top and Godiva chocolate-covered strawberries for an early Valentine's Day prelude to romance.  Well, Godiva has is not gluten free (see link here for explanation), so you should've seen this poor guy's face fall when I hemmed and hawed and finally revealed that I could not eat them.

A former boyfriend (the code writer) took me on a double date to a fancy steak house and, much to my chagrin, my steak was served to me teetering atop a giant SLAB of bread!  The waiter informed us it was a CROUTON.  The waiter told us if we sent it back, the $40 steak would come out of his paycheck, and since I was starving, embarrassed, and only a few months "in" to the celiac lifestyle, I ate the steak and got extreeeeemely sick.  My boyfriend was very nurturing to me that night, but I think romance was NIXED.

Before I was gluten free, a unique, funny guy I was dating in the late '90s owned his own online candy warehouse and sent me a big box full of Chupa Chups (lollypops), champagne gummy candies, and other unique items.  The funny part (which has nothing to do with being gluten free) was that he included a photo of ONLY his arm--in the "muscle" pose--with a giant patch of long, grizzly hair sticking out from his armpit, that he probably didn't realize was the focal point.  My girlfriends and I laughed and laughed!  I kept that pic for years, but once when I was away visiting my family, my "wasband" and evil ex-sister-in-law went in my filing cabinet (this is before we were even married) and threw away all of my old photos and love letters.

Last year, when we lived in the D.C. area, my boyfriend took me to a majority-gluten free restaurant, Lilit Cafe, where I devoured fantastic gluten free crab cakes, a savory Italian sub sandwich with Boar's Head cheese, and peanut butter cupcake-- so much that I got sick.  (Probably all those parts per million add up, or all the dairy, or whatnot).

This Valentine's Day I bought my boyfriend a camouflage heart filled with chocolates, Twix Valentine heart, and Spam (just for the surprise factor).  I will also give him a card and maybe a sweatshirt he has been eyeing but too cheap to purchase for himself.

What I hope to receive (he doesn't read my blog, as far as I know, and if he does- BONUS!)are:
  • See's chocolates--(second place would be Ghirardelli, or Russel Stover) .  
  • Flowers- preferably my favorite- but since he's never asked what my favorites are, he usually gets me roses or tulips, which is still nice and I appreciate them.  
  • Plane tickets or jewelry, although I won't hold my breath on these items.  Remember, this is the guy who mailed me toothpicks when he was gone overseas (he's active-duty military), bath balls when I didn't have a bathtub, a costume jewelry type necklace set that was so cheap the stone had fallen out, so imagine what it looked like when I opened the box!- and this year for Xmas he got me the SAME BOOK his mother got me last year for Xmas that I had told him I didn't like and didn't finish.

Click here to read a LIST of the HORRIBLE and HILARIOUS gifts I received as an elementary school teacher in the ghetto and in general.

To The Major's credit, he gives me lots of stuff in general (no pun intended) that are not for gifts or holidays, but my fave gifts have been leggings and shopping sprees...where I pick it out and he pays. 

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie - very buttery, thin, and CRISPY!

Pretty good with milk.  Too crispy to be my favorite.  In California, Trader Joe's had my FAVORITE store-bought gluten free cookie (even 'regular' folks would eat 'em)-double chocolate cookie: texture and flavor expertly created- I liken it to a brownie/cookie hybrid-a touch of a crispy outside with chewy, chocolately innards.  It used to be my PMS favorite.  Sadly, the TJ's in GA does not stock them.

Gluten Free Favorites