Category Archives: Kids & Family – Musings

Gobsmacked: Lessons in Living a Gluten Free Life #1

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GF Pancakes

How long have you been gluten free?

What prevents you from digging in and baking/cooking like you used to?

See those pancakes?  I’m proud of my weekend pancakes.  My chickadees love pancakes on the days we get to wake up in a lazy fashion (READ: 6:30AM instead of 5:15AM).   I used to be so stuck.  I would fuss over a recipe or dig one out and carefully measure, etc.  And guess what?  They didn’t care if the pancakes were perfectly fluffy or “exactly” like the ones I made last week.  They just wanted pancakes.  (In particular, pancakes cooked in olive oil that have a bit of a crunchy outside are perfect for dipping.  Or so I am told.)

Well before I was diagnosed and right before I went off to college, I sat down one afternoon with my brand spanking new typewriter (Take that, technology!) and my mom’s boxes of recipes.  Her recipe cards were from friends, family, and collected over the years from magazine clippings.  Most of the things she cooked for dinner were not on any recipe card in any box.  They were in her head.  But alas, foolish teenager that I was, I did not realize how much I would want to know about our dinners.  Instead, I focused on getting the cookies, breads, rolls, appetizers, etc from my youth onto recipe cards of my own. 

Yes, I typed them onto recipe cards.  For some reason, I didn’t think my handwriting would “last”.  I’m certain that impression came from watching the cards from grandmothers and great-grandmothers having been scribed in pencil smear and fade a bit with time – and more importantly – use!  Oh, I spent the entire afternoon typing up recipes at the kitchen table onto those cards and sliding them into sleeves within my own recipe book!  I was a GROWN-UP for sure, now!

Upon my diagnosis more than a decade later, I shoved those family recipes aside.   Once, I even “weeded through them” and threw many into the recycle bin.  I was angry.  I thought I would never need those recipes again.  After all, my doctor had told me that my future meant not a single crumb of bread, cookie, cake nor pasta would pass my lips.

 

After my first forays into the gluten free market, I became convinced that he was right.  Now only would I never bake again, but if I did happen to find a gluten free version in the store of whatever baked good I wanted, it would be disgusting.  It would be hard as a rock and as dense as a skyscraper.  (I know these weights to be accurate because my Love and I schlepped a giant amount of gluten free rolls purchased on the internet in 2000 with us on our honeymoon to Rome.  Trust me.  Dense + heavy + disgusting = doctor was right.)

 

Flash forward to this weekend.  As the girls began stirring from their sleep (hello 6AM… oh how I wish you were 8AM….LOL), my Love so graciously (HA!) offered to have “Mommy make some pancakes”.  Both girls popped up and out of bed in a flash.  Ah yes, the weekend has arrived if pancakes are on the menu and they know it.

 

Getting pancakes together absolutely no longer means even cracking open a recipe book.  Honestly.  I simply mix together ingredients as I go.  I have more memories of my grandmother and great-grandmother recipes noting ingredients in quantities of smidges, pinches, etc.  I totally get that now.  Save for the fact that mine would be measured in scoops from the flour bin, shakes of the baking soda container (always a tad more that what I think looks “right” just to be sure),  pinches of salt, couple spoons of honey or sugar and milk to the right consistency.  Everything is adjustable.  Make one practice pancake.  Taste test.  Adjust (if needed) and go!  Turn on the oven to warm and make pancakes.

 

If you had told me in October of 2000 that one-day I would again be back in the kitchen just preparing food rather than worrying about recipes for every little thing, I would not have ever believed you.

 

I still focus when baking bread.  That is something that the balance of ingredients must be “ON” for – or you will have a disaster of a loaf of bread on your hands.

 

I still write up recipes for breads, muffins, cupcakes, etc –but it feels good to be back in the kitchen and not so worried like I was before I started blogging in 2005.  I guess the best part about blogging for me has been forcing me to learn the recipes and the consistency of the doughs and mixes so I know what I am doing again.

 

So….. How long have you been gluten free?  If you are feeling like you will never get your kitchen mojo back, don’t worry:  it will come.

 

Promise.

A long winter

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Out and About

Eastern WA

We ran away this weekend.   It was very long overdue.  Winter is hard here for us with the very limited light (although I easily admit that since it has been “very dry” in Western Washington terms, I’ve enjoyed it more).  This winter has been worse.  

In December a colleague of mine – my age, married with three kids (6th grade and 3rd) – was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer just before Christmas Break.  It blew my mind.  As someone who is well-connected in our community through his coaching, teaching, university studies, growing up nearby, etc – the hundreds – and literally thousands of people who have come forward to offer support for he and his family is amazing.  There are little pieces we all contribute – mostly watching over the hundreds of students at school who have had – and are having – a very difficult time with this.  My friends at work – his coaching buddies for years through baseball and football – are complete wrecks.   

And then another colleague (my age) committed suicide on the last day of February.  

I have been speechless and riddled with anxiety, grief, tears, and funny memories of my very sassy friend who killed himself and well… speechless.  

He leaves behind two boys (one 6th grader, and the other in elementary school) who adored him.  He was an excellent father.  A hilarious, passionate colleague – and beyond that – a troubled soul who struggled his whole life with depression.

And then winter dragged on.  The rain came back.  The clocks all changed.  And the stress of the year began to eat at me.

Frequently, my little band of 3 and I find ourselves on day trips or weekend “adventures”.  In the winter, with work, these “adventures” can be as exciting as filling the freezer by stocking up at Costco.  Yes, we are that exciting.   This March, even the simple pleasures of watching a movie together could not ease the pains of loss.  We thought about traveling for a few days to get away to places we have enjoyed in the past… but you know what?

I just didn’t want to work that hard.

I didn’t want to have to research/look-up everything, call restaurants, plan our adventures by a map with not only gluten-free but kid-friendly options nearby.    I just didn’t.  I don’t mind that traveling may not only sometimes be a bit more costly (because swinging through the random coffee shop or sandwich shop will not always produce a gluten-free option at a low-cost).    That’s just the name of the game.

But this time around, I really just wanted to relax.  With my kids.  And no cell phones, televisions, pesky to-do lists, mail to sort, email to answer, etc  And I certainly didn’t want to spend my vacation time with my nose in my cell phone trying to find a gluten-free option for dinner as we strolled through our afternoon.  (Hey…it’s been known to happen when we just get in the car and go!)

 

God's Eyes

 

I remember this little mountain retreat place that I had been to 8 years ago.  It is a renovated mountain camp – much like one you may have been to as a kid – but with updated furnishings, towel warmers in the bathroom, trails between “cabins” (duplex cabin-esque units) and random Chihuly blown glass art sculptures.  Oh yes, and an outdoor bar with its own waterfall.  It definitely feels like someone who wanted to go “camping” but well… not really.  

DSC_0038

In other words, it sounded perfect.  We could unplug.  We could explore.  The kids could be outside.  And the weather was 68-72F during the day with sunshine and a 32F cold (perfect for sleeping) at night.  My kind of place. :D

The best part?  I didn’t have to even think about dinner nor brunch.  Once we made our reservations, I let them know that I had Celiac and would need a gluten-free meal option.

HA!  An option!  The restaurant (on site) was a gluten-free haven.  Oh – and the majority of the food served was locally grown.   It was great – for every meal (buffet style) we ate there, I could eat all entrée mains (except one each meal), they had fresh gluten-free bread options for the asking, gluten-free dessert options (gf chocolate cake, white chocolate creme brulee, etc), all gluten-free salad dressings, all gluten-free salad options separated from the non-gf items in the salad bar, etc.  Honestly.  There was too much food.  (Don’t worry, we survived that disappointment…LOL)

In fact, there was so much available to me that I couldn’t help but find myself mystified why the two entrees (two different meals) that I could NOT eat were NOT made gluten-free as well. It would have been so easy to do.  (For the record, it was a pork rack roast and the next day, a ham.)  I mean really.  Could they not use tamari?

AND FINALLY, my Love and I laughed.  

Seriously – how many times have we traveled together when the only safe option for me were some plain leafy greens or something less than joyful for a food-lover like me?  And here I was, in a buffet-style restaurant with so many gluten-free options that my brain focused on what I could NOT have?!

We began to discuss how often in life we condition ourselves to see that we are trained to see.  In work.  With kids.  With each other.  With my Celiac Disease.  Surrounded by the food that the servers/chefs could easily answer the gluten-free question for me and there I was, stuck on that stinking rack roast.  

And there I have been all March.  Stuck on the loss of my colleague and the impending loss of another.

Walk OnEveryday my little people and I sing loudly (and out of tune) together in the car.  They always request their favorites.  I rarely am one to quote song lyrics, but their latest song has caught my mind.  The song is called “Carry On” by the group FUN.  The lyrics (in part) say this:

…If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on…

I’m sure I will have my damn-it, it’s not-gluten-free moments again.

I know I will continue to grieve the loss of my friends.

And I also know that the sun will shine, my kids will keep laughing, and we will all carry on.  There are many worse things in this world that having to avoid gluten.  I have never thought it was the end of my world.  I guess I just forgot to look up at the path ahead of me sometimes to see those little feet marching on.  So please forgive my latest absence.  I’ve been busy bringing my soul back from the depths of grief and setting my eyes on those little feet in the picture.

May your Spring be bringing you out of a dark winter with Love as well – 

~Kate

 

 

Christmas Cookies

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Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

So it’s December?  Or should I say it’s almost 2013?!  Not like you need me to state the obvious, I’m just reflecting on how much of my “life” seems to be under different categories.  I’m obviously not able to keep up with every thing (this blog included) but I’m not quite willing to let it go.  I really enjoy posting recipes and more times than not, I’m thinking about what I’m making as a blog post (after the fact) but then I never get a chance to catch my breath or write it up.  Ah, but there are such worse things in life.

After a soon-to-never-be-released comic strip on Mommy-Plans-Gone-Wrong marathon of errand running yesterday and bath time, etc, I did manage to not only make the cookie doughs but I rolled out the roll out cookie and gingerbread between pieces of parchment (4 large pieces each) and slid them into the fridge.  That way today I merely had to pull the pre-rolled dough out and put it in front of the kids for them to cut out shapes; decorate and go.  Honest to goodness, it was the best choice ever.  What two or four or forty-three year old has the patience for cookie making?  Not me, I tell ya.  But thanks to my kids, I don’t think all of my Christmas cookies will be naked from here on out.    Today we made three different kinds of Cookies:  roll out cookies, GF Joe’s Gingerbread Cookies and PB Kiss Cookies (the no flour version).

Not too shabby.

Tomorrow, me/myself/I will attempt to gather 3 toddlers and a wonderful 8-year-old around a table for the royal icing to decorate the gingerbread men.  I think I will lose my mind.  Or not.  It could be the messiest fun I’ve had in days! :D

Hope that life is treating you well.  May you have many messy happy moments this season.

We could all certainly use them. :D

Merry Christmas, All.

~Kate