Friday, December 31, 2010

Possibly Party-Worthy

Time for a little celebration (it is, after all, New Years Eve). Still hurting from a disastrous attempt at Lemon Bars the other night (for guests, no less), tonight I managed to bake a batch of GF brownie bites that just possibly might be party-worthy:

These tasty little morsels may be consumed by someone other than me at tonight's New Years party. :) I've learned that party-going is not difficult; I simply make sure to eat before I go and, as appropriate, bring something glutenless to contribute! Tonight's party hostess, however, called me up to ask what kind of wings I could eat and to assure me that there would be gluten-free items on the menu. That was very sweet and thoughtful of her, just one of many outpourings of love I've received from friends & family. I should write about that.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kitchen power tools

Today was the big foray into gluten-free yeast breads, inspired by my new power tool: a KitchenAid mixer (Christmas gift from my lovely husband for this very purpose). I was anxious to find a decent dinner roll recipe that was at least sort of fluffy and bread-like. I'm excited to report that these martian-looking blobs truly tasted pretty decent!
Yes, they were baked in a muffin tin, but they are surprisingly soft and yeasty. I will continue to explore recipes; however, this was a definite improvement over last week's quinoa muffins: my husband actually ate one entire roll.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meh Muffins

I baked quinoa cornbread muffins to accompany our ham bone & lima bean soup this afternoon. I followed the GF recipe exactly and they looked pretty good: fluffed up like normal muffins and had a lovely soft texture. They tasted...just...meh. I can definitely taste the sorghum flour and it definitely has an odd aftertaste. I wonder if I'll just get used to it, like I did diet soda? With enough butter and honey, though, the muffins weren't bad.

On a brighter note, I actually remembered learning something in world history class years ago about quinoa. I know--I'm shocked, too (that I remembered something from history class, that is); I have a mental block against remembering world history and rules to card games. Anyhoo, I remembered something about quinoa feeding the ancient Inca empire. Or maybe I just learned that from reading the side of a cereal box.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flour Substitution Failure #1

With about an hour before I leave to an ornament exchange party, I decided to try one of my favorite holiday cookies as the first official "flour substitution" project: a soft molasses cookie recipe from Jeanne Quinton, in Seattle. Confidently, I scooped equal measures of my new sorghum flour mix (proportions compliments of Jennifer Cinquepalmi, author of Gluten-Free Deliciously) to match the original recipe's requirements. Based on other GF baking recipes I've read, I tossed in a teaspoon of my new friend Xanthan Gum (the origin of which is rather amusing and very Heidi-appropriate, but I'll have to share another time) and mixed the remaining ingredients as-is. With hope in my heart (and salivating mouth), I waited impatiently for the first baking sheet of rounded, puffy, sugar-coated cookies to emerge from the oven. Here's what I found, instead:

So, apparently, either an elephant tromped through my oven and flattened my cookies, or there's more to this gluten thing than just sticking ingredients together. (Yes, I already knew that, folks. But I had to see it in action to believe it. Now I believe.)

They don't taste too bad, but they look awful and they are so soft that even slightly cooled they were still oozing through the slats of the wire cooling rack. I think I'll still bring them to the ornament exchange party and see if anyone is daring enough to try them. But at least I can check one thing off my list: I have now accomplished flour substitution failure #1. Whew. I won't ever have to do that again.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

11 Kinds of Flour

Late tonight I finally got around to making my flour mixes. Hopefully someday I'll have enough time to bake with them!

It seriously looks like an old-fashioned dry goods store around here:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A blog? Seriously, Heidi?

Today I realized that there have been some interesting and amusing occurrences in my life since being diagnosed with celiac disease recently. And I decided I should chronicle them somewhere. After all, I have a tendency to send volumes of my words out to compassionate friends. So, this way, I can feel like I'm keeping track of the significant experiences while not overburdening a few important people with more of my words and emotions than they want to deal with. I don't really think I can or should try to catch up. But let me take a few minutes to record some noteworthy milestones to date, and then...we're off!

This, that, or the other thing

Tuesday, 14 December, 2010
This afternoon a couple of the Vice Presidents brought pie to work and came around telling us to go get a piece out of the kitchen. I realized what a sticky business it will be, having to politely refuse people's offers of food--especially at the holidays. And especially because, for 37 years, I have been a wiling guinea pig for all edible offerings. It's actually kind of nice to have an excuse to not accept food, but I really don't want to have to explain why to everyone. Not that I'm keeping it a secret, but it's just a hassle I don't want to have to deal with. Especially because everyone suddenly comes up with a friend or family member or coworker or ex-boyfriend who had celiac disease and they did this, that, or the other thing to make it all better. There's nothing I hate more than unsolicited medical advice. Nothing.

I will never eat Panda Express again

Monday, 13 December, 2010
I really wanted Panda Express for lunch. I knew Chinese Food would be challenging, at best, but I decided to pull up the allergen information from the Panda Express website this morning. Turns out every menu item includes wheat, except the steamed rice and the sweet & sour sauce. I will never eat Panda Express again. That threw me into a personal pity party, and then I felt extremely stupid for being so depressed over food.

Later in the afternoon I started doing some research and came across the date that FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) was passed--2004. In the back of my mind I remembered that my high school friend, Anna Dailey McCartney, had been involved in some grassroots efforts regarding legislation to clarify food labeling around that time. So...I googled "Anna McCartney" and "FALCPA" and came across many references explaining her tireless efforts to raise public awareness, get them to write to their representatives, meet influential people, spread the word, and ultimately get the law passed. When I learned about this law a couple weeks ago it made me breathe so much easier because it mandates that labels must include (in plain English) if foods contain one of the 8 primary allergens, wheat being one of them. That has made my shopping experience so much easier. And here a good friend from my earlier days was instrumental in getting that law passed. At that moment I was filled with so much gratitude for her, so I stopped what I was doing and sent her a letter about it. Her response was very positive and she was appreciative of my kind words. She also gave me some suggestions of people/sites I could approach for help with gluten-free baking.

When I got home, I had a package waiting for me from Bob's Red Mill in Oregon. It was my shipment of 25 pounds of sorghum flour (and a little more potato starch because they were all out at the Whole Foods). It felt like Christmas because now I can make my flour mixes and start baking from the gluten-free cookbook my mom bought me. I, of course, was way too busy so I didn't have time to do anything with it other than pull it out of the packaging.

So I over packed.

Sunday, 12 December, 2010
Tonight I'm babysitting overnight for friends and I had to bring all my own food with me. Not that they wouldn't accommodate, but I just thought it'd be easier for me to worry about what I can eat, instead of the mom who was already worrying about all I had to know to take care of her children. I was stressed that I wouldn't have enough to eat so I over packed. I have been to these friends' house a bazillion times, and I knew that there would be plenty of safe foods for me anyway, like fruit and veggies and cheese and nuts--especially because she is on the South Beach Diet. Okay. So I overreacted. As it turns out, I was so busy answering 8000 questions and solving 500 problems that I forgot to eat for quite a few hours, until the kids were in bed and I wondered why my stomach was so loud. Actually, it was very nice to be so busy taking care of someone else's needs that I completely forgot about my own. But a discussion of my childlessness is the topic for another blog, not this one.

No, thank you, I can't

Saturday, 11 December, 2010
I was making a few Relief Society visits today, and as I left one lady's house, she offered me some homemade baked goods. I had to turn it down--and then had to explain why. This is going to be complicated.

Skinny Jeans

Friday, 10 December, 2010
Due to the almost 7 pounds I've lost in just over a week, that new pair of jeans I bought last month at Target--yeah, the skinny jeans (which never should have come back from the 80's in the first place but did anyway so I have no choice but to comply)--fit perfectly. Wonderful timing, because today is a rare wear-your-jeans-to-work day at our office.


Thursday, 9 December, 2010
I have been losing weight since I started gluten-free just a little over a week ago. I've been weighing myself every morning and my smile grows bigger & bigger as the number grows smaller & smaller--and closer & closer to 200. This morning I weighed in at 200.2 and I had a feeling that, by mid-morning, I would be down below 200 (mid-morning seems to be my lowest weight point of the day). I wanted to celebrate when it happened so I took the bathroom scale with me to work. Around 10:00 I carried it to the ladies restroom (under my coat, for heavens sake, because I didn't want coworkers to have any idea what was going on) and I stripped down to nothing in the handicapped stall. I can honestly say that was the first time I've ever gotten completely naked on the job, too. I stepped on the scale in breathless anticipation, and it read...199.6!

This is the first time in 7+ years (and who knows how long before that because I didn't weigh myself for about 10 years prior) that my weight has been below 200. And for the past year it has hovered around 215, even when I was exercising regularly. I celebrated by texting my husband and emailing two close friends with my good news (and by not telling anyone at the office that I had been buck naked in the bathroom).

Potluck - ack!

Friday, December 3, 2010
Church Christmas party potluck. Let me just get this out there right up front: I hate potlucks and always have. So, how to navigate in my new gluten-free world? I brought both a main dish and a side dish of my own making, but was worried that it might be gone by the time I made it through the potluck line. So I scooped myself a serving of potatoes and a slice of ham before it went on the table. Of course, that was 45 minutes before we actually ate so it was completely cold. Oh well.

I suppose I should share a couple things I learned in this process: a) the powdered glaze packet that comes with ham contains wheat; b) canned cream of anything soup contains wheat; and c) apparently it's improper to bring a green salad to a potluck sans croutons--because EVERY SINGLE SALAD at the party had croutons on it. I have never liked croutons, anyway.

Day One

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. This is the day I go gluten-free until the day I die (or until medical science figures out some better way to deal with celiac disease.)