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A shout out to Shauna

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So… I am still home sick. Apparently when I want to get sick, I’m going to do it well and get it ALL!!! Wahoo! (Not really though.) This morning I opened my work email only to discover 68 unread messages (OMG OMG OMG) and as I began to plow through them with as many responses as I could. Dang. Next week is going to be a busy one for me.

So I did the only thing a girl can do in this situation. I made some toast, poured a glass of OJ and finished reading Shauna’s new book, “Gluten Free Girl”. Rarely do I get a chance to actually read a whole non-work related novel during the school year (non-vacation days, anyway) and I love to read. It was fun to get Shauna’s book in the mail a while back when it came out and I’ve flipping through it on/off since it arrived.

A little shout out to Shauna – Well done, Gluten-Free Girl!

When I was first diagnosed, I read a book called “Against the Grain” by Jax Peters Lowell. I liked Jax’s book – but only because I needed to see some other example of survival without denial of life at the time. At the onset, I dragged my love to a poor example of a “support” group meeting where we were the only people within 25 years of our age set either direction. The people in attendance listened to a speaker talk about testing for Celiac (and he made many inaccurate statements). What made it worse was the attitude they exuded when they talked about food. It was all very Eeyore-like. We didn’t go back.

What I learned by reading Jax’s book (which was published 4 short years before my diagnosis in 1996) was how quickly our knowledge of food and gluten has evolved – let alone our knowledge of Celiac Sprue. Many of the statements in Jax’s book may have been accurate at the time of her writing, but they were no longer applicable. Just like many of the statements the medical professional made at the support meeting – inaccurate and no longer true, but still being given to people who wanted new information.

Take this tidbit from the medical guy: “All Celiac patients will have positive blood test results.” Um. No. We don’t. I was diagnosed with a biopsy and have never had a positive blood test result for Celiac. At my latest physical and blood work follow-up, my doctor assured me that I am not an anomaly, but that it is common. The only “gold standard” of diagnosis of Celiac Sprue is in fact a biopsy for many cases. Fortunately, not everyone has to undergo a biopsy and they can have blood tests done that indicate the disease as well. (Ah well… there goes my last hold out hope… LOL – KIDDING!)

Enter stage left, a new book with a personal story of going gluten-free. Shauna takes you for a ride as she revisits her foodie-beginnings. And believe me you, this girl is a foodie. After reading what she digested as a youth, I can see why she jumped in to the foodie world with both feet and a backpack. My god, my mom would be proud of me when I tell her I read this book and couldn’t relate to the foods devoured in Shauna’s home. In fact, I don’t think my mom ever bought a loaf of “Wonderbread” even if I would have begged for it. LOL

The beauty of Shauna’s book is, however, instead of a finite list of things one MUST do or NOT do, there is information about grains, oils, salts, etc. Shauna’s book is joining my cooking resources in the kitchen. Oh sure, she has some interesting and delectable recipes within (many with twists of things she’s posted on her blog and others are just new), but the reality of Shauna’s book is this:

SHE PLANTS HOPE and FEEDS IT WITH KNOWLEDGE.

Shauna gives a list of the grains that we enjoy and explore like Amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, etc. She gives us lists of shi-shi salts, oils, seasonings, etc that are worthy of exploration and entertainment. She has comfort recipes and recipes for easy entertainment. There’s something about her foodie-obsession that makes me realize what a huge benefit to our gluten-free community she is.

Think about this for a moment.

Living in Seattle – or any other metropolitan area, there is greater access to some basic food ideas and staples from all over the world. (I know I miss my Chicago groceries immensely!) I learned recently that my buddy Ginger was having a hard time finding spring roll wrapper sheets. This blew my mind. How can this be? Oh wait – totally different area of the country = totally different grocery access. It makes SOME sense, but it’s sad regardless.

Shauna has great access to a wide variety of foods, great experience and an easy writing style that will make people want to try the things she writes about. It will have you wondering just where you can buy a wide variety of high -quality olive oils in your town (I promise). And then the best part will happen – we will all start asking for these things to come to our towns.

Think of how radically your local grocer has changed since you were younger – the variety of produce, products, “ethnic” items, etc. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Why did it change? Because the populous and the consumers demanded it, craved it and thereby we created the change. Nothing is more evident to me than walking through the various grocery stores in Chicago – depending on the neighborhood and finding a drastic difference in what is available to purchase. All of the items are targeting the neighborhood population – which meant in some neighborhoods, I could find greens and in some, I couldn’t.

In my town, for example, we live practically in the middle of two Fred Meyer grocery stores. Each of these stores has a “Natural Foods” or “Gluten-free” section, but one store has a “gluten free section” that takes up nearly five sets of 8 shelves. The other, its sister store about 7 miles south, has a 5 shelf section for the same goods. What gives? Apparently one of these stores has a more active consumer group than the other – or so I imagine.

I’ve gotten more courageous now too. When I see the woman who stocks the “Natural Foods” (by the way, isn’t it CRAZY that a GROCERY store has to label some food as NATURAL?? Good lord, what the hell else are they selling? Oh yea. That’s a whole other topic too. LOL). Anyway, when I see her, I now stop and talk to her. The other day, she actually stopped me. Her brother had just been diagnosed with Celiac and she asked if I could help. You bet. I wrote down several places to start, books to read, foods to find, ingredients to have on hand at home, and websites to check. I think I’m going to have to start carrying some of this information around with me though. In the middle of my conversation with her, three more people stopped to tune in and ask similar questions.

I’m no expert. But how long have we been doing this? And how hard is that first year? Or couple years? Ok. I’ll help. I’ll start asking my grocers and food co-ops (who are really great, by the way) to get in items that are helpful and explore new ones. It’s worth it. We all benefit when the “Natural Food” aisles expand.

Funny, as I’m writing this my love called from work to check on me and ask me to call about our turkey. We ordered our turkey from a local butcher – a free-range, locally raised Turkey that they will brine for me tonight in kosher salt. Nothing else. No additives, nothing bizarre added to “maintain freshness”. It will be fabulous. I can’t wait. (Oh! I must be getting better – food is starting to sound good again!)

So, Shauna, thank you. Thank you for living out your glorious foodie ways in our gluten-free world. Thank you for sharing ideas, creative missives for the foodie in all of us, and your recipes. Thank you for sharing your love story with the Chef. And YES, Shauna, YES. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

As for the rest of us, may I just suggest that we continue to build the supportive communities that help us flourish, survive and dine on finger-licking (or fork-licking) good gluten-free delights. There are many things to be thankful of this holiday season. YES, there are.

Happy Gluten-Free Holidays to All –
Kate

By the way, Shauna has just posted an AWESOME round-up post of her own advice for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving.  Check it out if you are working on your first one.  I will post your recipe round up pictures of your glorious Gluten-Free Holiday food here on the 30th.

GF: Sweet Potato & Ginger Muffins

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Oh, how I love sweet potatoes. Apparently, I love them so much that when I made sweet potatoes (cut up with brown sugar and butter) for dinner last night, I made enough for a family of six. There are only two of us. Yeap. We have leftovers, that’s for sure!

But that just brings me to the FoodieBlogroll that is sponsored by “The Leftover Queen” and the fact that I saw it on Ginger’s blog, brought ginger to mind. Not just “Ginger” but ginger – the food. OH! I LOVE ginger too! So, what better way to kick off my weekend blog entry by making some leftovers with some ginger? Perfect! I thought so too.

I love hot muffins and breakfast muffins to boot. So I made these last night and gobbled one up as it was still warm from the oven and fluffy/chewy. This morning, I heated up a couple and filled them with eggs and ham from breakfast with my love. OH! These are good. I think I’m going to have to buy extra sweet potatoes more often (not that I really have to remind myself to do this… LOL.. it’s just a natural habit!).

Another great part of this? It’s a World Bread Day celebration! Sheltie Girl at Gluten-A-Go-Go is sponsoring the GF version of the World Bread Day (October 16th) bread event as well. Bread! Right up there for why we GF people blog and alter away with recipes to find the bread/crust/scone/etc of our dreams. What great way to celebrate being GF but to show the world that GF bread can be great too! =)

I have a family recipe for potato muffins that I altered a bit to make these. Next time, I will use more flour (1 and 1/2 cups) and less potato starch (only 1/2 cup next time) because while I like the chewy quality that the starch adds to the muffin, I don’t prefer that consistency in general. Below is the recipe as I made these last night for your own kitchen-antics and alterations.

Sweet Potato and Ginger Muffins
Ingredients:
1 cup GF flour mix (with xanthan gum)
1 cup potato starch or sweet potato starch
1 Tablespoon sugar (omit if using candied sweet potatoes)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger (I actually used my microplaner with a 1 inch piece of ginger over the bowl to get the juice)
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (if you are using candied sweet potatoes, omit the sugar)1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butterDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Blend together in a small bowl: GF flour, potato starch, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, blend together mashed sweet potatoes, milk, egg, and melted butter until well incorporated.
  4. Grate (or use a microplaner) the ginger over the mixing bowl of mixed potatoes, milk, etc.
  5. Blend together quickly again to distribute ginger throughout as evenly as possible.
  6. Turn off mixer. Pour in all dry ingredients. Turn on mixer and blend until just combined.
  7. Shape into 12 even balls or drop by the spoonful into muffin tins about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake at 400F for 12 -15 minutes or until slightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Happy Eating =)
-Kate

 

World Bread Day '07

A Meme for Moi?

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Tagged!  I’m it!  Okay.. I’m not “it”-it, but I’m *it* for the moment.  Before I pass it on.

There has been a GF Blogger tag going for a while now.  I was tagged by GlutenfreeOrganics, aka Jean.  To be honest, I’m a bit intimidated by this whole thing.  Eight random facts?  What in the world would you all want to know about me?

Anyway, here are the rules for the meme:

  1.  Once tagged, let others know who tagged you.
  2. Players are to list 8 random facts about themselves.
  3. Those who are tagged should post these rules within their meme-tag post.
  4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them that they have been tagged.

Eight Random Things about Me…  (Good lord… brace yourselves for reading-induced yawns)

  1. My son is five years old and covered from head to toe with black labrador fur.  He also sports a white heart-shape fur-blobby in the center of his chest.   Due to his numerous logged couch-hours whilst Ma & Pa are away, he has now developed a bizzaro bald spot on his tummy from how his lays his 80 pound body across the arm of the couch.  (My poor couch….it shall remain nameless as I’m sure there is not much life left within it.)
  2. I officially have given over the choose-all-paint-color baton to my Love since the choosing of the paint for the family room.  What I anticipated as a lovely sagey color is now.. well.. let’s just say we call the room our “electric green jelly bean” family room.  Um.  Yea.  I don’t pick paint colors any more.
  3. I’ve been a host sister to exchange students, been an exchange student, and now been a host parent for yet another exchange student.  AND I work with the exchange students at school as part of my job.  (Consider it traveling on the cheap for those of us in the nose-bleed seats at this moment in life.)
  4. I am in the throes of figuring out adoption processes and all that entails.  I have no idea how we are going to do it, but I know we will.
  5. I know things before they happen sometimes.  I don’t know how.  I just do.  Don’t you?
  6. I harbor a secret wish for the artistic talents of several of my friends and yearn for a million perfect photo moments for my digital.  Maybe, I really just yearn for the chance to stop time in the moments I love the most:  falling asleep holding my honey’s hand, in the midst of hugs from my mom/dad, dancing with my mom AND dad (yes, it was a three-person dance at the end) on my wedding day, etc.  And the MANY more memories and moments to cherish in my future.
  7. Thanksgiving is good.  (1)The first night I met my future in-laws was actually at a Thanksgiving dinner (with 20 people!) and my biggest fear was shooting food across the table with the chopsticks they gave me to eat with.  (I didn’t, by the way).  (2)  We got married on Thanksgiving weekend  a year later.
  8. My standard Starbuck’s order (yea, now THAT is random):  Grande, non-fat, no-whip Cinnamon Dolce Latte at 140F, thank you.  And no, I’m not usually that high-maintenance.  But if it’s going to cost me over $4.00 for my coffee?  It’d better be the way I like it.  LOL ;)

There’s a slight issue with the tagging as many folks have already been tagged.  And, I just don’t think David Lebovitz (I’m a new groupie) is gonna respond to a meme appeal.  LOL  So, here’s who I’ll tag:

  1. My new friend, Steve at Gluten Free Steve
  2. Natalie, at Gluten Free Mommy
  3. The girls & guest Chef at Kill The Gluten
  4. Ms. GF on “My Gluten Free Cookbook
  5.  MaryFrances from the Gluten Free Cooking School
  6. Mike at the Gluten Free Blog
  7. Dianne at the blog titled “Gluten Free Journey”
  8. Jill on “Hey!  That Tastes Good!”

Happy Random Thoughts all :)