Thursday 29 December 2011

Lamb is Yummy!

Since being diagnosed, I have developed my own version of the hunter/gatherer complex. I used to just be content with a visit to Costco, a truck load of food and the account debited a mere mortgage payment. Now, though, it is simply not enough to hunt for the best deal or the largest bag of Cheetos ever made, I have to find the Gluten Free version of it. I feel my happiest when I have found something that is not only good for me but won’t kill me. The kids have basically run out of patience with this shit. I actually had to leave them in the car on my latest venture. If I had brought them in, they would have just acted shitty and then I would have had to threaten to kill them and look like an asshole mother. So there they sat in the parking lot, totally wrapped up in their hand held video games that Santa brought because really, what other item says the birth of baby Jesus but something with a stylus?  

I searched Urbanspoon for Gluten Free Friendly places and came up with a deli on Canyon Meadows called “Sofrittos”.

I have to say that it was pretty cool. The manager came out and walked me through all the items they had that were Gluten Free. He was dead honest with me that they make their own pasta in the same space that they make the gluten free stuff. He went through the steps they use to ensure that there is as little cross contamination as possible. They have a few types of GF crackers, most notably, The Kitchen Table Bakers Rosemary Parmesan Crisps. Which aren’t really crackers as much as baked circle of cheese AKA a party in my mouth. They also have lentil chips from Mediterranean Snacks. I got the Cucumber Dill flavor and they are going down pretty easily while I write this. They had chorizo and corn pasta too. They make their own homemade regular pasta and they looked so good that I had that crack addict style pang of yearning for a good old bowl of ravioli.

They make a bunch of Gluten Free sauces which will be great in a pinch to grab and bring home to make with my corn pasta. They also have ready made meals. I, being the laziest housewife in the western hemisphere, leapt on this opportunity. There was veal, and duck and beef and lamb. I chose the lamb for Trev and I for dinner. Please people keep your “its someone’s baby” crap to yourself. I get that I ate a baby sheep for dinner, I don’t care that it had feelings or a love of sunshine or liked it when someone read Dr Seuss to it. I care only that it was delicious. The lamb was tender and cooked perfectly and the sauce was delightful. Trev was additionally thrilled that he came home to something that looked like I gave a shit. Not that I give a shit, but it LOOKED like I did and I think that’s the trick.

This is what the meal looks like when you get it. All you do is boil it for 20 minutes. I steamed some broccoli and pulled off a June Cleaver-esque dinner. It was great and I will be back to Soffritto when I get slothful again, which, let’s be honest, will be soon. My hunter/gatherer need fulfilled, I shall unplug the spawn and force them to spend time with their lazy mom.

Monday 26 December 2011

"Your buns could be on Fear Factor!"

The Gluten Free Christmas Extravaganza was a massive success. We had the open house on Christmas Eve. Everything on the table was gluten free. On the menu was; meatballs, pasta salad, broccoli salad, deviled eggs, veggie platter with dip, cheese platter and the chocolate fountain. The baking included; shortbread, banana bread, almond bark, crispy rice yummies and ginger cookies. For Christmas dinner we had of course the poultry, mash pots, sugar carrots, green beans almandine, stuffing and buns. For dessert we had chocolate pie.

Christmas Eve Food Table

The work started several days before. I made the baking early and spent every moment I could threatening my husband’s life so he would stop eating them Who has a ginger cookie for breakfast? I made the meatballs a couple days before too. On the 23rd I prepped all the platters, made the broccoli salad, the stuffing, the pie and the now infamous buns. I was most concerned about the pie at the time. I had used the Gluten Free Pantry pie crust mix. I have used it before with great success but for some reason this time it would not come together well and wasn’t behaving. It took Trev and I both to wrangle it into the pie pan. I baked it and became even more concerned when it came out of the oven. Part of the edges came apart immediately and shattered upon the floor.  More came off when I started to giggle about it.

Pie crust falling apart  

 I was fully prepared to toss it and try something else but Trev talked me into keeping it. I made the filling, said a prayer and tossed it in the fridge.  Much to my surprise, it turned out very well. The parts of the crust that were missing weren’t noticeable and the filling was great.

I was also very concerned about the stuffing. I used a mixture of the Gluten Free Girl recipe and Udi’s. I worried for nothing though because I have to say that it was one of the best stuffing’s I have ever had. It was moist and held together well and had great flavors.

Toasting the Udi's Bread for the Stuffing

 Fat Tom the Turkey was great and the veggies were good too. I used Maxwell’s Kitchen gravy mix and just added some drippings to it- couldn’t tell the difference. The thing that I was LEAST worried about was the buns. Number one, they are a minor part of the meal. Even though I used to LOVE those soft scissor buns, so gooey and wonderful, covered butter and dipped in gravy. Like an inmate who forgets what the sun feels like, the bread factor is diminishing to a faint glimmer in my mind. I also wasn’t concerned about the buns because I had a secret weapon - Gluten Free Bisquick.

The Buns BEFORE they went in the oven. I had fully expected this to be a bragging shot rather than an impeding doom shot.
 It’s wonderful, it’s delicious and it’s not available in Canada. I got this particular contraband from my friend Ashley who travelled to the states and came home with bags of Gluten Free goodness for me.  There are things in a regular Montana grocery store that aren’t’ obtainable at our most specialized health food stores. Getting these treats across the border turns me into a hoarder of the worst kind. I squirrel away the smuggled goods until I find an event of magnificent proportions that is worthy of it. I had exactly two cups of the precious powder left and was waiting to use them for the Baby Jesus’ Birthday.

When I baked the buns, they looked great.  I could only make 12 of them so I didn’t taste them when they came out of the oven and of course, we all know that I should have. When dinner came along, I pulled them out, heated them a little and popped them on the table. I was first to taste the buns and within the first second, I stood to try to sneak them off the table. No such luck.. Trev grabbed one and tried to take a bite. Then he directly challenged my brother to try to take a bite and chaos ensued. Have you ever seen or tried the Cinnamon Challenge? When some fool on You Tube tries to eat a tablespoon of Cinnamon? Google it, then you will get an idea as to what happened at my Christmas dinner. I would have been mad if it wasn’t so funny. They weren’t just dry, they were like powder that was being held together with white glue. The one bite I had completely shattered in my mouth and then glommed itself to the top of my mouth  It was a good twelve minutes before either one could talk again.  There they were, tears streaming down their faces, not breathing except for short gasps, little puffs of crumbs exploding from their mouths as they sniffed and chocked it down. My brother is trying to yell, “It’s like sand! Like sand! How? How did this happen to bread?” But you could barely understand what he was saying. The kids of course thought this was the best thing ever and were jumping up and down with glee watching daddy and uncle battle it out. We perfomed science experiments with the buns after dinner. We used colored water to prove that they really did suck all the moisture out of your mouth.

The beginning of the experiment.

Ten Seconds Later...... this is what the buns did to the inside of your mouth

My brother took the rest of them for his six grade class to perform more experiments on. I didn't want to know the details. The bun incident will go down as one of the funnier moments in the history of Christmas. So at the end of the day, my brother did laugh so hard that he fell off his chair but I still consider The GF Extravaganza a success.

I have been focusing a lot on the food but it’s not really about that. None if it ever is. We make a lot of stuff about food, too much. On Christmas Eve we had about fifty friends and family move through our home spreading love and joy. I cuddled babies and hugged toddlers, laughed with my dearest pals and celebrated a friend’s engagement.  Yesterday, Santa came, ate my gluten free cookies and left some sled marks on the lawn in the snow for the monkeys to find. He’s a genius that Santa. Then we sat around in our pajamas, went skating, went sledding, played an epic game of trouble and laughed a whole lot. The food is the background, the sideliner and should always be that way. Christmas certainly was an Extravaganza but not because of the food…..because of the people I surround myself with.

I will add the recipes to the side bar of the blog. Enjoy.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Gotta keep it short and sweet here reader. More wine to drink and pictionary to win. The Gluten Free Christmas Extravaganza was a HUGE success. The major downfall being the buns. The description of "hockey puck" is too kind a term. I have a video of my brother and husband trying to eat them without drinking water. They are crying.....a true christmas miracle. I have recieved a lap top from my darling husband and plan to put many literary miles on it. Get ready for some new posts more often. I will give more story on the buns next time. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and I really hope you have had as wonderful a day as I have. Will write soon.....promise.

PS The stupid fucking hamster picked last night to die. The kids tried to give a chew treat to a cold hard rodent first thing this morning. Stupid creature couldn't wait one more day.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Gluten Free Christmas Extravaganza!

So tis a merry merry time of year don’t you think? You would disagree if you saw the melee at my son’s advent concert today. These women were behaving like Elvis had just crawled out of the cold hard ground and made his way to my spawns school to put on a concert. I kid you not. Mother’s were throwing elbows to get a shot of their kid singing ‘I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas’. My kid had been singing it all fucking week so I just gazed at the top of his head (which is all I could see) and revelled in the glory of the crazy around me. I video taped the whole thing for the husband. I really honed in on the weird kids, the ones who were six beats off, or trying to undo their pants. I am going to save these little video nuggets as my own sociology experiment. How will those kids turn out four, ten, twelve years from now? Is the kid who picked his nose through the whole performance going to become a physicists, a game show host or a homeless man? It’s a toss up and I find it all fascinating. Maybe I should have been watching my kid… whatever.

But really, it is a good time of year, especially for me because I am planning the “Gluten Free Christmas Extravaganza”. That’s right, I named it…in my own head anyway. Last year, the whole Celiac thing was so new that there was no way I could handle making GF for anyone other than me. Therefore, at my own party, there was food I could not eat. I claim this to be totally unacceptable. “Suck it Gluten,” I say, “This is MY Christmas and I am going to kick ass.” We are having our Annual Open House on Christmas Eve and I am hosting Christmas dinner. So it’s a lot of food for a lot of people. Cross your fingers.

Be prepared of course that this could go totally, horribly wrong and my brother will laugh so hard he will fall off his chair. It might go well though, who knows. I always figured that at some point on that fateful night, under the bright star, Joseph looked at Mary, shrugged and said, “This will have to do.” I think this is an attitude that we need to embrace more in our Christmases. The woman gave birth in a STABLE for pete’s sake, lets not be so picky about the colour of the napkins shall we? And it is that settling into a stable attitude that I have been owning this last year. Life is too short to fret about the exact shape of the cheese ball. Don't knock people over to get a shot of your kid singing at the Christmas Concert. Close your eyes, listen and I bet you twenty bucks you will be able to pick his voice out of the choir.

Celiac’s has taught me that life isn’t perfect and it’s actually better that way.

  Let’s be honest, a lot can go wrong food wise even if you are having a Glutened meal, let alone one that is trying to avoid wheat. But I am going to take a deep breath, love the life I was given and try my best. If the GF stuffing does not work or the pie goes to shit or the cookies taste like saw dust, I am going to look at my nativity scene, salute that gorgeous Mary and say ‘Here’s to settling for what we've got to work with babe.” And everyone, I mean EVERYONE is going to eat everything, shitty or not because I made it with all my Gluten Free Skills and if you can tell the difference? Shut your mouth, it’s Christmas for the love of the Baby Jesus.

If I were you, I would check this blog at roughly, on Christmas night. If it went well, I will be blind drunk and there will be no post. If it didn’t go well, I will be blind drunk and trying to type which really should be entertainment for all.  

Take care of those around you this season. Wake up Christmas morning and do EXACTLY what you want to do that day, spend it with who YOU want to spend it with and eat what is good for YOU. Relish in the goodness of giving and smile as much as you can.

Merry Christmas Reader, You reading this blog is truly the greatest present I have ever gotten.

Much Love

Monday 5 December 2011

Chop it up Baby!

So being an old (careful now) Moxie girl, I knew that Chop might be a good GF choice. The two are in the same family of restaurants and that usually bodes well for me. So I was fairly confident when I walked in their Chinook location with my two best gals last night for an early birthday celebration that I would not get poisoned. I should not have set my bar so low for I was truly blown away by the level of service we received. So we stroll in; something moms, one pregnant and I am the only one who orders a glass of wine. We already scream ‘pain in the ass for a low tip’ table but the server was more than accommodating. I immediately tell her that I have Celiacs. She asks if it is severe and when in unison we reply ‘yes’ it was an all stop kind of situation. Her manager Ian comes over and spends the next hour dazzling the hell out of us.

            We asked to share an appetizer plate.  Again, it was like we were trying to piss them off and yet they could not have been more thrilled to serve us. Some of the things on the platter I could eat and some I couldn’t. So Ian and his chef have to go through the ingredients on all these different items and check and double check them against each other. Ian came back to our table twice to double check with me in the preparation of an item to see if that would cause a problem. He then apologizes to US for disturbing us! Seriously, I was deeply in love with this guy by now and would have put him in my pocket if he would have fit. Bother us? Please! So the dish comes out, all on separate plates, mine run by Manager Ian and it’s all gorgeous. The gals tried to tell me that the cheese bread was disgusting but since the preggo one ate it like the baby’s life depended on it, I called bullshit. But really, I didn’t miss it that much. The peas and the shrimp that I could have were fresh and delicious and beautifully presented. We could not have been more thrilled.

Then, to make things even better, the server comes by and the following conversation ensues,

           Pretty blond girl server, “We have Gluten Free desserts.”

            Short brunette lady blogger, “Don’t toy with me. Is it chocolate?”

            Pretty blond girl getting slimmer by the second, “Yes, it’s our…..”

            Short brunette lady about to get larger, “Sold, don’t tell me, just bring it.”

And this is what that doll of a human brought me. The Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake! Unreal! One of the best restaurant desserts I have ever had. We devoured it in an embarrassing way and it was delightful.

Ian came by again to make sure that we were doing well. He told me about the extensive charts they have for servers to make sure that no allergen is missed. He told us about Chop’s baker and their butcher and how everything is fresh, made in house, with the best ingredients. He listed off all the things I could have on the next visit, including more desserts. Chop doesn’t’ have a written gluten free menu and I really don’t think it needs one. Instead, it has knowledgeable, passionate staff that care as much about what goes in my body as I do. They went above and beyond and I could not have been more thrilled. We weren’t a “money table”, not by any stretch and yet the team at Chop made this gluten free gal feel mighty special.

Happy GF Birthday to me.

 I’ll be back to get Chopped, and you should too.