Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Archive for December, 2010

For when it’s snowing everywhere but here: Mom’s Vegetable Soup

It snowed in Gainesville this morning:

SnowinGainesville

Not quite here in Homosassa (too near the coast, I think), but close enough for me.  Here it was just overcast, blustery and miserable.  I was more than happy to spend it at the clubhouse of my parents’ golf course, watching Tim Tebow score the winning touchdown of his first victory as an NFL starter.  At home my mom was “slaving away” (remember, cooking for us involves a lot of can-opening) in the kitchen, getting vegetable soup ready for when we came home.

Every year, usually on the coldest-feeling day, my mom cooks a pot of vegetable soup big enough to feed four of us for about two weeks, especially with some grilled cheese or cornbread to go with.  The best thing about the soup, though, is its simplicity.  Quick home-cooking at its finest…

What you’ll need:

-Beef tips for stewing (can find it ready to stew in the meat section of the grocery)

-2 cans of Veg-All; the kind with the peas and carrots and okra and stuff

-3 carrots, peeled and chopped

-1 celery stalk (optional)

-3 Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and in bite-size pieces

-1 can of cut green beans

-1 can of corn (don’t accidentally buy creamed corn!)

-1 big can of tomato juice (not sauce, juice)

-Celery salt

-1 tbsp. of corn starch (use flour if you’re not gluten-free) dissolved in a little warm water

What you’ll do:

Note: You can cook this in a slow-cooker and let it simmer all day, or in a pot on the stove and let it simmer for an hour.  My mom always did it on the stove.

-Brown the beef and start cooking the potatoes in the soup-pot or wherever.  Drain the meat a little, but save some meat juice for flavor. The potatoes need a little more time than the rest of the vegetables since they aren’t cooked.

– Put the dissolved corn starch in the remaining meat juice and let it thicken a little.

-Add the tomato juice and let it heat up

-Add the Veg-all, chopped carrots, celery, and canned green beans and corn.

-Let it simmer for at least an hour, preferably two, and serve piping hot with something to dip in it.  Mm-mm good.

 

I’m already looking forward to taking a container of it back to Gainesville with me, where I’ll wish for more snow flurries.

 

-Taylor

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Christmas 2010 Recap: Gifts, kittens and oat flour

Because Thanksgiving was such a huge family celebration, Christmas was understandably low-key, with just me, my parents and my grandmother.  And when I found out my dad had accidentally agreed to have Christmas dinner at the neighbors’ house, I was a little miffed.  I enjoy cooking Christmas dinner. More importantly, I wasn’t guaranteed a Christmas dinner if the neighbors didn’t cook GF.  Well, call it a Christmas miracle, but it turned out I could eat everything, save the rolls, on the table.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Christmas Eve, my mom and I cooked a delicious meal that I didn’t photograph because I was busy making sure my  scallops were warm and fully cooked. The meal was petit filets, seared scallops with a lemon white whine reduction, baked potatoes, sauteed green beans and crustless cherry cheesecake for dessert.   It’s not hard to make crustless cheesecake – just buy one of those no-bake cheesecake kits and don’t use the crust!  we served them in pretty little bowls instead of on a plate with cherry pie filling on top.

Christmas morning I slept all the way until 9:15 before getting up to see what Santa brought.  My sweetheart sister Carrie Mae  read this and bought me this as a result:

Apron

A cute Christmas apron for all the bread-baking I’ll be doing for the people who bought me the bread machine when I get back to Gainesville.  Here I am making fudge in it:


We do love our Christmas morning mimosas here in the Provost household.

You’ll notice the apron has kittens on it.  From other family members I also received a cat mug, two cat ornaments and some other miscellaneous catphernalia.  I am not trying to perpetuate the idea of me as a crazy cat person, but apparently my family is.  It’s because of these guys:

Kittens

Catsby and Daisy have only been a part of the family for a few months, so I’m thinking by next Christmas the crazy cat lady stuff will have calmed down.  Nevertheless, I do love the apron.

Now, I mentioned Christmas dinner was a pleasant surprise.  It was a simple meal: ham, green bean casserole, potatoes au gratin and rolls.  One thing about the GB casserole: Mom and I experimented with crumbling sour cream and onion potato chips on top in lieu of the traditional fried onions – and it worked! An ingenious substitute if I do say so myself.

For dessert, a neighbor had brought two cake-breads – apple butter and banana.  I naturally assumed I’d just be having hot cocoa when we got home.  Then she mentioned she likes to stay away from wheat, and substitutes oat flour for regular flour in all recipes.  I’ve seen oat flour used to add texture to things, but never as a pure substitute.  I quickly used the Droid to make sure it was safe, then dug into the super moist, faintly oaty cakes.

Now, oats are tricky.  It’s fairly well-known that most rolled oats are processed on the same machinery as wheat and wheat flours, and can cause some people to feel ill.  I tried to reintroduce oatmeal into my diet about a year ago and after a month or two it started to make my tummy hurt, so I’ve relegated it to a special treat, and this seems to be a viable solution for quite a few Celiacs.   However, the breads from last night were made from my old buddy Bob’s Red Mill GLUTEN-FREE oat flour, grown on gluten-free farms and manufactured in a dedicated facility.  Can’t beat that.

I intend to try this recipe in the near future using the oat flour and the bake setting on my bread machine.  I thought it was quite fortuitous that our little Christmas dinner with neighbors had a gluten-free dessert just by happenstance.  Merry Christmas indeed.

-Taylor

 

Gluten-free Apps for Androids

Guess who just got an Android phone?

fascinate

Goodbye Real World, Hello 21st Century

Everyone you know, probably.  Especially since they’re giving them away now.  My dad got a free Droid with his Droid so I have a pre-Christmas toy to play with (when I’m not playing with this one).

After I downloaded all the necessary apps (Facebook, Email, a collection of crosswords), I decided to type “gluten-free” into the app market’s search bar.  I got 18 results, most of them relevant, 8 of them free.  The two G favorites, and the ones I downloaded, seemed to be the Gluten-free Scanner and Gluten-free Near Me, both powered by GF search engine site, Celiaccess.com.

Gluten-free Scanner allows you to take a picture of a food’s UPC and it’ll tell you whether it’s safe if it’s one of the thousands of items in their database.  You can also use keywords to identify the product if you don’t have it in hand.  This seemed pretty silly to me at first, since you can simply read the label.  But sometimes you can’t be really sure, and it’s nice to have a way to double-check.

Gluten-free Near Me searches through a community-edited database of restaurants to provide safe dining options wherever you may be.  It uses GPS or allows you to type in your current address to identify the best choices. Unfortunately, I am visiting my parents in Homosassa, Florida at the moment, so my selections were a Chili’s 9 miles away, and, seriously, 5 Dairy Queens.  But it’ll prove useful throughout my travels.  My mom and I used it to find a gluten-free meal while enjoying a mother-daughter day in the Tampa outskirts.  It’s good for a quick bite, but it seems to only provide the nearest chain restaurants, which could cause you to overlook a great local place.

In addition to these handy tools, there were several GF recipe apps, which could be useful at the grocery store or someone’s house where you don’t have access to your fav GF cookbooks.  But this Droid also has some pretty sweet Internet access, which is usually just as useful, and has a lot more than 1,000 recipes.

Then there’s Celiac Facts, which posts up to 20 links per week to articles relevant to Celiac Disease.  I wouldn’t check it too religiously because it tends to be repetitive in its postings, but the articles it links to are interesting, especially if you have children with gluten issues.

So yeah, pretty excited about the selection of Droid Apps related to Celiac/gluten-free.  Except now I really want some Dairy Queen.

-Taylor

Gluten-free Christmas Wish Fulfilled: Hello New Breadmaker!

When I posted my list of gluten-free gifts a week or so ago, I jokingly posted on Facebook that “If anything good comes out of this blog, I hope it’s a bread machine for yours truly.”  Well, I have Facebook, this blog, and seven of the greatest friends to thank for this little guy:

bread maker

He’s a Panasonic SD-YD250 Bread maker, complete with automatic yeast dispenser so I don’t have to wait around to dump the yeast in.  It also has a 13-hour timer so, if I so desire, I and the rest of the house can wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread.

I’ll let you know when I find out what I did to deserve such a heartfelt gift.

Being quite a novice at the art of baking non-dessert breads, I decided to buy a pre-measured mix the first time out rather than attempt to do potato flour/millet flour/rice flour/xanthan gum measuring myself.

bob's Following the directions on that bag were fairly easy.  Figuring out how to set the right baking time, type of bread, size, and crust darkness took a little perusing of the user manual.  I chronicled my first attempt here:

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About 10 minutes in, the roommates and I started hearing the weird noises of the dough kneading, and it took a minute to realize what it was.  Then we were pretty stoked.  Forty-five minutes in,  it sounded like the dough was being spanked.  We determined that was the yeast dispenser working its magic.

Finally, around 3 hours in to the 4-hour process, we started to smell the finished product.  I’m the only GF eater in this house, but it was clear everyone was waiting for bread.

When it finally finished, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it actually looked and tasted like a loaf of bread.  It turned out so well I just feel like baking all the time now.  I’ve got one more bag of bread mix, and then I think it’ll be time to test my kitchen chemistry skills.  I’ll keep you posted.

-Taylor

Japanese Bread Machine Offers Gluten-free Setting

A few days after I posted my top ten gifts for the gluten-free lifestyle, a friend linked me to an article about a new bread maker that turns uncooked rice into a loaf of bread.

Gopan

If you’re confused about the logistics, think of all the other awesome crap the Japanese have provided us with over the years (Nintendo, Toyotas, etc.) and stop asking questions.  No word yet on cost or availability (unless you happen to read Japanese) but still an awesome concept for those with wheat allergies.

Then, earlier this week I was doubly impressed with Japanese inventiveness when I read about the Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread Maker.  On the surface it just seems like a fancy bread machine outside of a grad student’s price range at $281.

But the machine is unique in that it offers a gluten-free bread setting, ensuring that your alternative flours, whichever you choose to use, are kneaded to perfection.

zojirushi

Even more exciting, Celiac Chicks has been given the opportunity by Zojirushi to give away one of the machines.  All you have to do is leave a comment about bread in the comments section of the corresponding post.  The drawing takes place Dec. 14.

Fingers Crossed!

-Taylor


Holiday Spirits: Adventures in Gluten-free Drinking Part 2 – Liquor

I was going to make this a three-part series, with an entire post dedicated to wine, but really, wine is a glorious blessing to celiacs, in that virtually no wine exists that contains gluten.  If you do have an adverse reaction to wine, it could be the sulfites.

So on to the big mother of them all: liquor, liquor liquor.

Finding truly gluten-free liquor is trickier than just avoiding whiskey.  In fact, some whiskeys, like my dad’s all-time favorite, Jack Daniels and my brother’s arch-rival, Crown Royal, have all the nasty distilled out of them and are safe to drink.  The danger lies in the lower-quality stuff and flavored liquors.  I’ve never felt worse than the day after a friend bought me a Stoli Blueberry and Sprite, and it wasn’t from a hangover.

The enemy.

Part of the problem is that alcoholic beverages are not required to list allergens or ingredients on their labels, unlike foods. Current regulations under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) do not require the disclosure of major food allergens on alcohol beverage labels.  This is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), not the FDA.  There’s even a petition set up to change the requirements so that people with serious food allergies don’t accidentally poison themselves if they don’t choose to avoid liquor altogether.

To help narrow it down, Celiac.com has a list of officially safe gluten-free bevs, but it doesn’t list specific brands.  An even better source is the gluten-free forum, where people list what gave them problems in the past, depending on one’s sensitivity, of course, and what their go-to drinks usually are.  I already mentioned that you might want to stay away from any flavored Stolichnaya, but there are plenty of safe alternatives:

OR

+

And my guilty, girly pleasure:

Happy holidays from No Grain, No Pain.

-Taylor

Restaurant Review: You Khan Eat at Genghis Grill

I have to say I had my doubts heading into Genghis Grill, a fairly new Mongolian-style build-your-own-bowl restaurant here in Gainesville (it has locations in most of the southern states, excluding Alabama, which is, presumably, not a fan of Mongolian food).  Doubts about the cleanliness of the big ol’ grill, doubts about the staff’s ability to tell me what was in one of the place’s 15 or so sauces…Plus, the rows of the raw meat, chicken and shrimp take some getting used to.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole experience.

Genghis

Here’s a breakdown of my gluten-free adventure at Genghis:

-No GF menu, but there’s really not much of a menu at all.  You must choose with your eyes and tastebuds.  But when I walked in, the hostess table had a huge sign that  said “Please tell your server if you have any food allergies.” Good sign.

– Once I chose the $8.99 Buildyourown Bowl (only $2 more for bottomless), I did inform my waiter of the gluten issue.  He told me to tell the cook, who would make special arrangements to cook my food in a “quarantined area” away from the other, evil foods.

– Waiter also informs us to pile the food high. I do my best, but the lady next to me with the giant mound of marinated steak has clearly done this before.  “Do veggies first,” she says. Next time…

*Side note: I wouldn’t touch the marinated steak – soy sauce is lurking.

– This being my first time here, I go a little crazy: Sliced beef, shrimp, bay scallops, cabbage, carrots, onions, pineapple, squash, Cajun seasoning, garlic citrus seasoning.  I have no idea what this is going to taste like, and I still haven’t picked a sauce.

-The sauce. I ask an employee if he happens to know which sauces are GF. He looks terrified and runs for the manager.  Manager kindly informs me that the dragon sauce, sweet and sour, and roasted tomato sauce are OK if I can handle corn starch (I can).  Happy with my straightforward answer, I load up on dragon sauce.

-Get to the grill, where a man asks what type of allergy I have. He writes “wheat” on a card, I ask for steamed rice, and my food is whisked away, presumably to a clean, No-Gluten-Allowed Wok.  It never touches the big ol’ grill.

-Food comes, and somehow through all the guessing (and pineapple!) I’ve managed to come up with something delicious, and my mind is at ease knowing the care that went into it.

-For next time: the menu had not just one but several gluten-free dessert options, including gourmet Asian ice creams in green tea and red bean flavors.

-$14 (with tip) for lunch may be a bit much, but it’s perfectly reasonable for dinner.  And it seemed like a great place to take your parents when they come to check up on you visit.

-Taylor

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