Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I Need to Write This Down... Got a Penne?

Let's talk pasta.

Okay, so the Gluten Free pasta situation isn't too horrible. In the big scheme of GF options, there are A LOT of GF pastas. I have a few favorites mainly because of their texture and ability to stay together when boiled. I find that all rice flour pasta turns to a mush when cooked. Rice pasta always looks and tastes like what I imagine people in futuristic, space prisons would have to eat. It would come out of a robot's arm, a sassy robot that says things like, "If you don't like it pumpkin, you can file a complaint when you get back to you cell." Then she would bark out an unnerving robotic laugh that gives you the shivers.

Rice Flour Pasta is no good.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of sassy robots, this blog is my opinion, based on my own experiences and facts that I believe to be true. Don't send me a bunch of emails telling me how I MUST be cooking rice pasta wrong for it to turn to the consistency of dog diarrhea. I am not cooking it wrong, I don't like it. Get over that. You will never convince me that I SHOULD like it. Plus, unless you hand make rice flour pasta all day long, you really have no personal stake in this matter so don't waste your time. If you DO make gluten free rice flour pasta all day, I am sorry for belittling your work but it sucks.

I have some seriously great options for GF Pasta. 

Barilla GF Pasta

Catelli GF Pasta

President's Choice GF Pasta

Now,  I don't enjoy spaghetti as a gluten free option. I find that it's tough to get a really great texture from it. We work with the penne and the fusili options (tube noodles and twisties respectively for those of you under twenty or just feel like you are). These boxes aren't very big so it's usually a box and a half if I am feeding the family. They run about three bucks but will often go on sale for two fifty each. I use them for all our pasta needs including a pasta salad that is to die for. Word of caution though, it doesn't keep well, it gets dry and crunchy if you try to eat it the next day so make all dishes right before your family starts foaming at the mouth for dinner. 

I have missed stuffed pasta though and it has never been a possibility for me, other than making it myself which appeals to me as much as sharing a bed with a wolverine. Not THE Wolverine, Hugh Jackman can snuggle in with me anytime, I mean a crazy ass, blood thirsty rodent of unusual size. 

This is an actual Wolverine...uh...no thanks.

So no, I'm not making my own gluten free fresh pasta. Fuck you. Don't send me a recipe. Stop now. I can feel you hunting Pintrest for some sped up video to send me which I will inevitably get drunk and think that I can make. It will cost me eight thousand dollars in ingredients and Italian pasta makers and I will end up with the futuristic robot slop of my nightmares. Then I will cry and it will all be your fault so don't.

You know what you can send me?


Like a party in your mouth and no one else is invited!

This is President's Choice fresh Gluten Free Pasta. I stumbled upon it when Superstore sent me 'offers' on my loyalty card. In general, I think loyalty cards are just a hyper creepy way of the big companies to track my spending and eventually take over my brain so I buy twelve hundred dollars worth of tampons in a day. However, the PC Points card is actually kind of cool and one day it notified me that I could get fifteen hundred points for buying PC Gluten Free Fresh Pasta. It's in the deli section and it ain't cheap at around eight bucks per order. One package could most likely feed two people but I wasn't sharing that shit with anyone. If Mother Theresa wanted a delicious tortellini out of my bowl, I would be hard pressed to share. So basically, the kids had no shot. 

It was easy to cook, keep an eye on it because it cooks pretty quickly, about four minutes or so. I just mixed mine with some butter (mmmmmm butter) and some pre-made pesto sauce. 

This is it cooking. I never got a finished product shot because I was too busy eating. I'm selfish like that.

I was really good....like really really good. 

I'm sure to anyone who has had glutened fresh pasta in the last four years, you might not think so but to me? It was AH-MAZING. I ate until I burst and then I ate some more until I felt like I couldn't put my arms down because I was so full of tortellini. 

It was a powerful moment. 

So that's my take on pasta, the Gluten Free version of it anyway. Remember, if you are cooking for a Celiac, you have to wash your pasta pot within an inch of it's life and make sure that you do the same with all your cooking utensils and plates. Don't stir your regular pasta and then use the same spoon to stir theirs. Separate and conquer or I will put you in my prison of the future with my sassy robot lunch lady. Who, now that I think about it, is basically just a lame version of Rosie the robot from the Jetsons but she'd be super scary if she was in a space prison no? 

I googled 'Rosie the Robot Cooking' for a finale image but the only pictures that came up were of her cleaning or making martinis so maybe she won't be a slop dispensing asshole of the future. Maybe she'll be kind of awesome. 

Enjoy your pasta responsibly.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

F*#k You Pretzels

I was on the ball today. Yeah. That's right. I had my shit TOGETHER for the first time in...well... what, six, seven years? It was one of those days that everything clicked. I was sick all week and the antibiotics finally kicked in so I had tonnes of energy, did yoga, hiked with my daughter, visited with friends, organized a drawer, dinner was good and everyone ate it, I am totally prepped for a week of work, lunches made. I was ON. THE. BALL today. So, what did I do about that?

Of course, I ruined it.

I, in my infinite wisdom, thought that I should look at Pintrest.

Word to the wise.... DON'T and I mean DON'T ever look at Pintrest on a Sunday night when you feel like you have your shit together because it will ruin your life. Literally. Look at Pintrest when you already feel like shit about yourself. Look at it when your kids are in the hospital because you accidentally ran them over with your range rover. Look at Pintrest when you are already failing at life. That way you won't be tempted to try anything on there because you know it would be impossible.

While riding the high of organization and an empty hamper, I made the fatal mistake of looking at Pintrest.

And I found THIS Pin. Now, let me just make it clear that other recipes that I have done from this site have totally worked for me and I'm sure someone else would be able to make Gluten Free pretzels. They rock. I suck. That's the bottom line.

I should have known better but did you see the pictures on there? GAWD! Those soft, stretchy, golden brown pretzels? How great do they look?

So I did it. I royally fucked up the pretzels and now, my friends, grab a glass of wine or a pipe of crack or whatever you need and enjoy my utter, dismal, failure that is....Fuck you Pretzels.

I need to make it clear to you that I can bake. I am an exceptionally good baker. Really really good. I will never be a physicist or fully understand how a gas pump works but I can... bake.

Except for today, today I accomplished the equivalent of wearing a Kanye Yeezy outfit to Parent Teacher Interviews. I shit the bed.

I followed the recipe perfectly but I rarely use my yeast anymore. Look where it was in the pantry, hiding behind the lost, dejected can of beef stock. Poor little bastard.

Now, stop your hen clucking. The yeast was still active. I checked. So don't blame this failure on the yeast. It was fine. Trust me. Like I said. I can bake.

So, I begin the process of following the recipe. I wake up the yeast and I cut in the butter then I mix everything together and at this point, I have to admit, I suspected that everything was going badly. The texture of the dough was 'off' and by off, I mean, it felt like that weird dirt on a baseball diamond. Yeah. Yummy right?

Not good. Not good at all. Note wine glass in background.

I didn't give up though! Would you? Of course you would have because you have the common sense of a goat. I, can not claim such a talent.

In order to convince this powdery bullshit to stick together, I added a little water, then more, and more and more until it finally turned into something that resembled a dough. Actually, it still resembled old crusty playdough circa 1987 but I stuck with it.

See? It doesn't look like the seventh circle of hell now does it? Trust me, it's like one of those things on Alien that lay in rest until the host least expects it and then it jumps out and gives you the worst tummy tuck ever. This is a ball of destiny.

You, of course, have to let it rise. So I do. Does it? No. No. No. Of course not. It just sits there, nice and warm, looking at me with distain and judgement. Laughing at me.

After an hour, I'm supposed to pull it out, divide it into six pieces and make six preztles out of it. It's laughable really, that I could possibly make a pretzel out of this wet sand. I divided and rolled and rolled and rolled, like it was some sort of sappy, horrid movie, I tried and tried and tried. But... alas.. the gluten gods hate me because frankly, I hate them.

Do you like how I pulled out the ruler, as if I could measure this monstrosity? I'm delusional. A crazy person. So do you think they look like pretzels? Hey?

Okay, so at this point, I regroup and decide to try to make something different. I decided to make pretzel 'bites'. Like that's a thing. Pretzel 'bites' like bagel bites or snack bites. I crack me up.

I cut some into rectangles, I tried to ball them up but basically, I didn't make gluten free pretzels.

Do you know what I made?

I made dog food.

Yup. Dog food.

I threw out the rest of the dough and as you can see, I was really enjoying myself at this point. I was really feeling that housewifey glow that you see on commercials. I. was. loving. being. a. Celiac.

I boiled them and baked them and as a perfect ending fuck you, the fire alarm went off to notify the house that the dog bisquits were ready.

Wow. This is a new low bitches. THIS is the worst thing, ever made by anyone, anywhere. I swear, the garbage they make reality stars eat on deserted islands which is basically shark piss, coconut husks and Gary Busey's ball-sweat, is of better quality than this shit I made.

How do they taste? Like death. That's how.

What do I do now? Nothing. Throw it all out, drink some more wine and eat a brick of cheese.

I consider that a win so after all that, I still nailed it today. I got all my shit done and I tried something new. I failed. Meh. Fuck it.

The most important thing in life is to ask yourself if what you did today will make a great story. And it did. It made a great story. So pin that motherfucker.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Don't Forget to Stop and Smell the ....FLOURS?

Gluten Free Flour, the bane of every Celiac's gluten free life. The question I get asked most is 'What Gluten Free Flour do you use?" And the answer has changed over the years. I have tried mixing my own, I have tried every single commercial one out there and I have some favorites. To save you from spending your retirement fund on flour, I thought I would share my vast knowledge. 

The first thing to remember, is that you HAVE to add Xanthum or Guar gum to your flour. I usually add about a teaspoon or two. It doesn't have to be exact. Even if the mix HAS Guar gum in it, I still add it because it never feels like enough. Guar gum is much cheaper than Xanthum gum and I have never seen a difference. 

Another thing? Make sure it is a cup for cup replacement. That means, you can use any glutened recipe and just swap out the flour. 

Do you want to mix your own flour? Don't. Just Don't. There are lots of commercial options out there that will work much better, store better, give you a better product and be...drumroll...cheaper. Cheaper cheaper cheaper. That's what we are going for here. 

Pick your flour like you pick your hookers. Cheap but effective.

If you refuse to listen to me and want to mix your own flour, get the book "Gems of Gluten Free Baking" by Wendy Turnbull HERE. It is the best gluten free baking book out there and she has a great recipe for a GF flour mix. However, each one of her batches has to be refrigerated and costs about two dollars a cup. And that's Canadian, so like eight million for everyone else.

Are you over mixing your own flour? Good. Now get your pocket book and go to the store. Survey your options. Remain calm. Let's begin.

Option One: An organic mix like Red Mill. I like Red Mill products in general. I don't like how expensive it is and how small the bags are. Like, I am making cookies, for people, not fairies, give me a bag of flour! It works, but I find the end result to be a little tough. If you are insistent on a organic product, than this is the one for you. I figure, if I'm eating a cake, it's going to be shitty for me no matter what. Your choice.
 Option Two: Costco. Ahhhh the mecca of stocking food for the zombie apocalypse. Costco has a decent gluten free flour from Cloud Nine. I like it. It comes in a nice big bag, it's not expensive and it behaves very much like 'normal people' flour. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the coloring. I like the texture but the flour isn't white. It has this grey color to it, which is fine if you are making a cake or something but my sugar cookies looked a little sad. Overall though, a totally awesome choice.

Option Three: Bulk Barn (not pictured). I'm not mad at the Bulk Barn flour, it can feel a little gritty though. It's not my first choice, it's the cheapest though so if you are just using it to thicken sauces or in a batter, go for it. I wouldn't use it for baking cream puffs though. 

Option Four: President's Choice Gluten Free Flour. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner. Slap a crown on this bitch and start taking advantage of her good looks. This flour is great. It's bright white, soft and can make damn near anything. The President's Choice Gluten Free Flour is easy to work with, and people can not tell the difference between my baking and a glutened version of it. The ONLY thing I don't like is that it could come in a bigger package, that's it. I love it.

So there you have it. Your fascinating flour review for the day. Now go bake something and send it to me. Now. Go. I mean it. Now. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

The 2015 Christmas Post

It's time for my Christmas post. A lot of people think that my Christmas posts don't have enough to do with having Celiacs because I don't usually mention it as much.

Shockingly, I disagree.

I firmly believe that what ever powers that be, gave me Celiacs for a reason. Before being diagnosed, I was on a long and exhausting path of spending my life entrenched only in the contentment and approval, of others. I used to lay awake at night, worried and fretful that Christmas (or any other major or minor event in my life) wouldn't turn 'out'. That it wouldn't be perfect and therefore, be a complete and utter fail and THAT made ME a complete and utter fail. It was fucking exhausting. You see, too many of us are far too wrapped up in the fact that what we produce, is who we are, and how people will judge us, as people, as mothers, as fathers. It's a horrible way to live. 

Celiacs changed that.

Celiacs forced me to think about myself. Not every day, not all the time, but certainly, far more than I was before the diagnosis. I am forced to consider myself and my happiness to be more important than the other crap that floats around my life. I have to come first sometimes. And that, dear reader, was my biggest lesson of all. 

From that lesson I have learned what is important, and vital for a Christmas season to not leave me resentful and exhausted. 

Here is what IS NOT important at Christmas:

1) Matching glassware - if it holds booze, use it. Including any 'sippy-cups' that you can wrestle away from your toddlers.  Fill them with Jagermeister.

2) Symmetrical decorations that are re-purchased in the newest fashion each year - the more crap that your kids made on the tree is a barometer to your inner peace

3) What the neighbors are doing with their lights or what ever bullshit inflatables that litter their lawns - suck it Jones' ....suuuuuuck it.

4) Spending more than anyone else on gifts for your kids - stop competing, Trump will always win. 

5) Your children looking and acting perfectly - they aren't supposed to....they are CHILDREN. Let them wear their jammies to Christmas dinner or a fish hat or nothing at all. It's the ONE day they set the schedule...give them that.

6) Anything on Pintrest involving a speed set camera - it's the seventh circle of Hell. Avoid. 

7) Anything else you don't want to do - stop doing things you don't want to do. Stop. Now. The world will keep spinning.

My tree currently has no less than two strings of burnt out lights. There are entire black holes on the fucking thing. You know what? I looked at it, I took a deep breath, and I thought of Mary. 

Mary, as I say every year, gave birth in a barn. A fucking barn, with cows and pigs and goats nibbling at her toes while she is trying to push out a baby. The most iconic mother in modern history, didn't have perfection, far from it, and she was happy. She pushed out a baby in the dead of night, with no one around, surrounded by stinky cattle, and she was happy. 

So, you see, the lights aren't supposed to matter. The money you spend is worthless, the fretting and the ironing and the fussing, doesn't matter....at all. 

You matter...

Mary put herself first. She knew it was her time, hopped a squat and took care of business and she never once, cared what anyone thought of her outfit or whether or not the baby cried too much or shit up the back of his diaper. 

So don't, just don't. Don't fret, don't panic and worry and stay up all night making anything 'perfect'. Because it won't be perfect, it will never be perfect. Let it go. Relax, breathe, enjoy your children and your spouse and your friends. Enjoy Christmas. 

Put yourself first and have the Christmas you want to have. Because at the end of the day, that's what Mary did, and that's what I am going to do. 

From My Heart to Yours,

Have a drunken, laughing, belly filled, hug exhaustive, holiday. May it be as imperfect as mine and just as happy.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Do's and Don'ts of Hosting a Celiac

This is an artistic rendition of my colon after last Christmas Season.

'Tis the season for entertaining. Brace yourself for the onslaught of family and friends piling through your doorway. Some of those people might have Celiacs. Remain calm. There is no reason to not invite someone because they have a pain the ass disease. See what I did there? I'm funny. I have also not been invited to things because the host didn't want to have to feed me. It kind of hurt my feelings, so I lit their house on fire. 

My Grandma Theresa always said that if she came to see your house and eat your food, she would have come when you weren't home. 

That's the way it is with Celiacs. We come to your home to see YOU, not to eat. Maybe we come to drink, that's true but mainly we come to hang out with you so don't get too hung up on feeding us. Chances are, we have already eaten. However, if you want to feed us, here are some DO's and DON'Ts of hosting a Celiac in your home.

Do - Clean everything that will touch their food. A dishwashing sanitizing cycle works well. 

Don't - Assume that your drying towels or dish cloths are clean enough. Remember that sandwich you made yesterday? Remember you wiped your counter with that cloth? That cloth you are about the wash a Celiac's dish with? See where I'm going? Yeah. Paper towel. Wasteful? Yes. Clean? Indeed.

Do - check the ingredients of every single thing you are putting together. 

Don't - Call the Celiac with every single ingredient. This will make them feel like they are causing too much trouble. Just Google it, that's what your friend with Celiac's will do anyway.

Do - Keep it simple. A plate of gluten free crackers and cheese is just fine. Don't get all fancy and try to make a gluten free angel food cake when you have never made a cake in your life. It will look and taste like shit and your poor Celiac friend will have to eat it anyway. Thanks for nothing.

Don't - Put their food on the same table as the glutened food. Put it to the side. Don't make a big deal, just make it less likely that some drunk asshole will sprinkle bread crumbs all over the cheese while yelling, 'PIXIE DUST TIME'. This has literally happened to me.

Do - Make their food first and have them eat first. This cuts down on cross contamination. 

Don't - Make a big production of any steps you are taking for your guest. There is nothing more uncomfortable than someone doing something nice for you and then repeatedly telling you how nice they are. It takes away a lot of the niceness. Do it to be kind, don't do it for a pat on the back. Remember, Celiacs live like this so you making one meal with the precautions they take all the time, and expecting a trophy, is kind of an asshole move. 

Do - Know that your Celiac friend does not expect anything from you, except to enjoy your company. They didn't come for the food. Celiac's have learned to not go anywhere for the food. They came to laugh and drink and have fun with you. 

Don't - Assume that they will tell you if they get sick. Here's a secret, I have gotten sick at lots of friends homes. Friends who have taken precautions. They will never, ever, know. Why? Because it's fucking rude to tell them that's why! Jesus, you are such an asshole sometimes. I know I could get sick anywhere, I know I sometimes make myself sick. It's a risk all Celiac's take. If a Celiac tells you that they got sick at your house, tell them I say they are a douchebag and then punch them.

Just like my Grandma, I don't go to your house for your food. I go to see you and laugh with you and hug your children. I go because I love you.

And to drink your wine, I mainly come to your house to drink your wine.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Just Cheat

"Just cheat, take the risk."

I've heard this hundreds of times since being diagnosed with Celiacs and I'm so sick of it, I feel like grabbing a bat and smashing the person's car up. 

There are several problems with this statement and making it to a Celiac, let's go through them in a vulgarity laced tirade shall we?

Number one, fuck you. How dare you tell me what to do with my body. How dare you shrug at my disease like it is nothing but an inconvenience. This isn't like having a glass of  wine while on antibiotics or a mini chocolate bar while you are trying to lose weight so you fit into a tube top. It's not a God damn option so stop suggesting that it is. Stop implying that I have a choice in the matter. Your tone is both dismissive and insulting. Let me switch it up on you. 

You: "Oh, I can't eat that peanut butter, I'm allergic."

Me: shrugs while looking at a TV guide from 1981, "You could cheat."

You: "Well, then my tongue would swell up and I would have to take an epi pen shot."

Me: "But it's PEANUT BUTTER. It's the best thing in the world."

You: "Well, it's really serious."

Me: Shrugs again while shoving handfuls of peanut butter in my mouth. "I know people who don't even think your condition is a real thing anyway."

You consider buying a gun.

See where I'm going here? Feel like an asshole? You should.

Number Two. It's not worth it. It really isn't, and this is coming from a serious bread addict. I love bread. I adore it. The whiter, the more gluteney, the better. I miss croissants and sourdough and baguettes and donuts and eclairs. I jones for them like heroin addicts jones for a hit twenty years after their last hit. THIS is how much I love gluten so I assure you, if it was even remotely worth cheating, I would do it without your shittily timed suggestion. If I eat a minute amount of gluten, I get sick. Really really really sick. Have you ever had stomach poisoning? You ate some bad sushi or didn't know that the chicken shouldn't be pink? Remember that feeling like you wanted to die? Yeah. That's it. Right there. That's how it feels to be glutened. So, think about it. Would you choose to feel like that? For anything? Me neither.

Number Three. The damage is long term. The chances of me dying from colon cancer are three times higher than they are for you. The more gluten I eat, the bigger the chances of that happening. So, it's not worth it. If you don't think that colon cancer is a big deal, you are more than welcome to goggle image it. Go on, I'll wait...... You're back? Did you like that? Colons that looking like they are some distressed alien planet? That doesn't look painful at all does it? Does it look like something you would be willing to cheat for? Is there a Twinkie out there that is delicious enough for you to get that? Think about it. Then shut up.

So stop. Don't tell a Celiac that they can cheat. don't shrug at our disease like it's a choice. Don't treat us like we are being silly or overly cautious. 

We can't eat gluten, any more than you can eat drain cleaner. It's poison. 

Get it? Any questions?

Monday, 12 October 2015

This Is Where You Belong. So Be Thankful Dammit.

Can Turkey's Fly? Can they?

It's time for the Thanksgiving post. I know, I know, I haven't posted in what seems like forever and for that I am sorry. We have moved back to Calgary and if you haven't seen how much I have to drink during moves, check out that post HERE so getting a blog post in was a little rough. We are settled back in our Calgary home, the kids back in their school, me and hubby back at work so that took some doing and wine.

We talk a lot about being grateful on Thanksgiving and that's awesome. However, if you are only grateful on this one day, I have to tell you, you are doing life wrong. I think that the secret to getting good stuff to happen to you is to be grateful for the things you already have, as meager as those things seem. 

I know, it's hard to count your blessings when you are in the dredges of life. It's frustrating to see someone else being handed everything that you have to work hard for. I know it feels impossible to be grateful when you watch some rich old dude on tv win 30 kajillion dollars in the lotto that he played ONCE  and let's be honest, he's going to be dead by Thursday. You shake your head and say, 'where's my lottery? When it is my turn?'

Hot damn you are right. You are totally right. You deserve better, we all do. But try to imagine, for one second, someone who doesn't have what you have. And not in a 'there are starving children in Africa', although, there ARE starving children in Africa and I think we should totally take care of that. My solution is to tell the Kardashian's that feeding starving people is the new 'it' thing for fall and it will make their asses bigger. 

No, think of what your life would be like without the things that make it great. What if you had no job (as shitty as your job feels like sometimes), no friends (like NONE), no children (imagine this when they are playing nicely or hugging you, not when they are rolling their eyes at you), what if you didn't have your home, your couch, your socks, your cheese (dear lord what would we do without cheese), or be able to walk or talk or dance. What would that feel like? Honestly, think about it. 

You win the lottery every single day that you open your eyes and have a new opportunity to be grateful. You won my friend. This is your day, throw your hands in the air and fist pump in victory. You win. You are exactly where you are supposed to be in this place, on this day, with these people. 

This is where you belong. So be thankful dammit. 

Am I grateful that I have Celiacs? That's something I struggle with. I am thankful for being healthy and happy and eating well which fuels my body and allows it to thrive. Would it be easier if I could just make a normal pie crust? Yup. Is life about easy? Nope. So I am grateful that we can afford the gluten free flour to make the crust. I am grateful that mashed potatoes and turkey are naturally gluten free. I'm grateful that without Celiacs, I would not have started this blog and through the course of it, become a published author. These are good things and that is what I focus on.

And I get to spend my day, cooking and laughing with my favorite people in the world. 

That is what I consider a win. 

Find something to be grateful for, every single day, not just today. Today, try to ignore your Celiacs and be grateful for everything else. 

My thanksgiving feast :

A smoked turkey (thanks to the hubby and his monster smoker for that)
Udi's stuffing recipe Recipe HERE
Roasted Carrots and Beets Recipe HERE
Mashed Potatoes (call your grandma)
Green Beans Recipe HERE
Gravy Courtesy of Club House Gluten Free Gravy Mix
Pumpkin Pie Recipe HERE - I used President's Choice GF Flour
Homemade Whipped Cream (literally whip some cream with sugar - buy that canned stuff and I will hunt you down.)