Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mudbugs, cookbooks, and a pink baseball bat


We are back in Milledgeville, some 2300 miles the wiser, and our road-trip Christmas was really kinda cool. We didn't have too many incidents, the traffic was decent, and Santa found Jeffrey all the way in Plano, Texas.

Here are some of my favorite parts of the trip, and some pictures.

Christmas Dinner and presents with Papa and Mary:



We went to Atlanta first to spend time with my Dad and Mary. We had a wonderful dinner at Woodfire Grill (my favorite place) and opened lots of cool presents afterward. The time was wonderful, precious, and a great way to start the holidays.
Papa and Mary are in the second picture down there.

First stop: Dinner with Dave Dave and Angelicious:

Dave Davies is one of my closest friends, and his son Graham is one of Jeffrey's closest friends. We bonded when we were doctoral students in the 1990s and needed a lot of PPDs (poor poor dears). We stopped in Hattiesburg on the way to Houston and had dinner with Dave, Graham and Angela (Dave's wife and my new BFF). It was too short a visit, but we had a great time. Jeffrey got to spend the night with Graham, too. BONUS all around. I didn't take pictures, but I did see Dave in his running shorts.

The story of the Christmas cookies:



My sweet husband Randy planned a little surprise for me at our first stop in Houston. We were visiting his (now my) dear friends Paula and Bob Clemens, and their kids TIm and Katie for two night. While I'm crazy about Bob, this is mostly about Paula. She and I bonded at our wedding, and I was looking forward to seeing her again. Randy, though, had mentioned how sad it was that I wouldn't get any of her spectacular Christmas cookies. Paula has the baking gene, you know...



So a few weeks ago, Randy emailed Paula and asked her if she might consider trying to make me some GF Sugar Cookies. And Paula, being the love that she is, said sure. He sent the recipe and she went shopping for the GF ingredients. As she told me, "Randy knows me well enough to know he could ask, and he also knew I'd do it." So Paula went on a GF adventure -- she did everything she could do make her kitchen GF for me to eat it (including buying Pamela's Pancake Mix and letting me cook them -- she's a smart cook!) And dinner was totally GF too. AND we made Chocolate Chip Cookies with the leftover Pamela's mix, and they were delicious, too (I have some left). We had a great time with them. Too short.

But the Christmas cookies were the best. I almost cried when I saw them! Just for me. THAT is what I call a friend.

And they gave me Bette Hagman book for a Christmas present! One I didn't have!

The story of the pink baseball bat:

The award for the COOLEST Christmas present this year goes to my sweet husband, Randy, who gave me a pink baseball bat from a backup catcher with the Braves, no. 8, Bryan Pena. Now why a pink bat? On Mother's Day, MLB players use pink bats and sell them, and the money goes to breast cancer research. I made an offhand comment in WalMart in the summer that I wanted a REAL pink bat, not some fake WalMart bat, and viola, my husband bought me a bat. IN JULY. And shipped it in a box to Texas to surprise me.

Made up for the fact that I somehow got glutened on Christmas day.

A visit with the Smith Sisters and a trip to Snider Plaza and Penzeys:



All I really wanted for Christmas was a chance to shop at Penzeys and at my favorite store in Snider Plaza, Flavors from Afar is a great little food store, and I asked Randy for a shopping spree there. I bought a bag full of goodies, had a great lunch at The Half Shell, and mostly enjoyed the lovely company of Jess and Lindsey Smith. Jess is Ethel to my Lucy. We had a great time trying the hand cream in the health food store, but mostly, it was great to see her and hug her neck and sing "Down in Louisiana, we have a Cajun Christmas." Because it always comes back to the Steel Mags. (P.S. I only spent $51 in Penzeys.) Oh, and I got to meet Randy's high school friend Barry Bragg -- heard such good things over the years, happy now to know him.

Great Sushi with the family:


There was a cajun crawfish roll, made with CORNSTARCH not flour, and which was delicious. And we had a great time with Reagan, Chris, Nick and Emily. And Jeffrey had a beer.

The story of my cool brother-in-law Ron and his awesome presents:


I have married into a great family, and I had a great time with them all this Christmas -- they were great to Jeffrey and me, and we are lucky to have such a wonderful family.

But a big shoutout goes to my crazy brother-in-law Ron, who buys absolutely the most amazing Christmas presents. LAST year he bought the Ralph Gizburg Eros magazines that have sparked my research. THAT was just too cool. He also knows of my old cookbook collection, and he always sends me old cookbooks he finds at estate sales and bookstores. My collection has grown with some remarkable cookbooks. He also buys me stuff with Ginger in the title -- soap, a B movie poster that is framed in the Tampa house, a DVD this Christmas. Cool. When I had surgery, he sent me an antique cookbook (and a GF Bette Hagmann one) to read and relax with. He's that kind of thoughtful.

But this year, he outdid himself -- He got me FIVE Bette Hagman gluten free cookbooks, and another for good measure. I am in GF Cookbook heaven. He will never know how much I appreciate this -- Not only is this something I need, it's something I wanted and will use. He takes my situation very seriously, and I appreciate that. I am working on a great birthday present for him, but it will be tough to top his presents.

Another thing I absolutely love about him is he will go into a food store and wander. We spent about an hour in Central Market, and he bought an orange cauliflower. Why? Because he'd never had one. I like that kinda foodie thinking.

The story of 14 minutes with Carolyn and Kerry Moore:

Carolyn and Kerry Moore are two of the most wonderful people in the world, and they are friends I cherish from Monroe. Carolyn was there for me on day in Kiroli Park when doctoral studies had me about to crack. She is that kind of friend. I love her dearly, and her husband Kerry is a wonderful man.

We were lucky they were in Dallas on the way to Frisco, and we saw them for 14 minutes at the Half Price Books coffee house. I could have stood there and hugged Carolyn for all those 14 minutes. I hope they will come see us in Tampa. They loved meeting Randy. And they couldn't believe Jeffrey. I remember when Kerry tried to baptize Jeffrey in the coin fountain outside the Morrison's Cafeteria in Pecanland Mall.....

And that night, we got to meet up with two more of Randy's high school friends, Bret and Angie Carroll and Rocky and Joanne Willett. While it was a delight to meet Bret and Angie and see Rocky and Joanne again, I got glutened that night at the WORST Mexican restaurant I've ever been to in my life.

The story of my visit with my sister Betty:


I have mentioned before that I have four "adopted" sisters -- Susan Goggins (aka the author Raven Hart), Janet Richardson, Angelita Ellis in Belize, and Betty Swanson in Monroe, Louisiana. Betty is the associate pastor (The Rev. Betty Swanson, thank you) at Lea Joyner Memorial Methodist Church in Monroe,.

Her son Raymond is my son Jeffrey's best friend (he has two -- Raymond and Graham Davies, mentioned above -- and he saw both of them on this trip. Glorious reunions for Jeffrey).

Anyway, Betty and I share a special, special bond. We hugged and both screamed out at the same time, "I can't believe you're here!" Betty is undergoing treatment for breast cancer now, and I wish I could have been there for her -- I wish I could be there NOW for her. But she is never far from my thoughts, and always in my prayers. We visited all afternoon and evening, and ended up in Target shopping. Just like old times...may it not be so long til the next visit. And I got to see her wonderful daughter Amanda, and especially her husband Ray. He's pretty great! LOVE them all. It was like old times, only better :-)


Last but not least, MUDBUGS:


I had great boiled crawfish twice on this trip. The first five pounds was at the Boudin House in Breaux Bridge and the second was the Cypress Inn in Monroe (our former home. Also the first place I ate dinner in Monroe when I interviewed therein 1992). I don't miss much about Louisiana -- I miss Betty, I miss Carolyn, I miss my church Lea Joyner, and I MISS CRAWFISH. And I also miss a good local Mardi Gras celebration.... But I had my fill of the spicy red crawfish -- even if the second batch did have a bit too much MSG for my sensitive system. They were all yummy.

I know this was quite a travelogue, but it really was a trip for which to be thankful. I don't know if I have the energy to do it again any time soon....but it was a blast.


Much love, and Here's to the happy holidays!
Ging

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Home, Safe.

I will fill in more in the next day or two. But we're home in MIlledgeville, tired, but safe.

Much love, with tales to tell,
Ging

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hit the road, Jack....

That's how I feel right now. We're packing tonight for a trip to Texas for the holidays. Randy, Jeffrey and I head out tomorrow after Jeffrey's Christmas party. We have a few more errands to do, and a little more packing, but we should be done and ready to haul tomorrow.

Let's just all hope it fits in the car!

Jeffrey is trying to bring every monster truck and every DVD he owns (who cares about the clothes). He's in three small suitcases PLUS his enormous backpack. Most of that will go on the back seat with him. He'll have to make do.. Randy and I are in TWO suitcases, one an overnight, one a big one. PLUS we have three large bags of presents (One for Jeffrey, Two for Miller family). PLUS I'm packing a cooler with cold packs and GF goodies, just in case I find myself in a pickle. OH, and the old fart drug case.

And Randy, Jeffrey and I will go rolling down the highway...someone pack the bungee cords and duct tape. I have a feeling we're gonna need them at least a couple of times this trip.

Much of this is to say I am going to be on hiatus from my blog until I get back from the trip (unless something miraculous and bloggable happens). Here is what I want to say:
•I wish you all peace on earth, many joyful moments, and plates of GF goodies for the holiday. Merry Christmas. Remember the real reason for the season, ok?
•Jenn Hill Watson, my dear former student, is going to give birth any day now (see that full moon coming on? I'm tellin ya...Dec. 23, but Joy might be right with the 21st). At any rate, keep Jenn, Danny, and baby Tyler Reed in your good thoughts and prayers for safe delivery.
•Happy First Christmas to my adopted sweet grandbaby Hendley Caroline Boucek, and Happy Second Christmas to that beautiful Addison Grace Peterson. And Rachel, I hope the twins have a delightful Christmas -- this one will be really big for you!
•To all my GF blogger buddies, and youse knows whose you is, HAPPY GF Christmas. I might get to meet another one of you (I Hope). Who says great cookies can't be GF? And there are always pecans, right Stevie?

So that's a wrap....Much love, Merry Christmas, and if you see me on the highway to gluten freedom, be sure to wave and say HOWDY! I'll see ya when I get back.
Much love,
Ging

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A cookie roundup for the non baker (A Sunday Blessing)

Today's 9 days til Christmas blog is dedicated to my friends with the baking gene, which, say it all together, sadly, I lack. I am not posting recipes right now, but you'll find directions to them here.

Last night, we got home from Indiana, and I finally, carefully, opened my care package of cookies from Melanie in Indy. I didn't open it at the hotel (I was kinda mad. My favorite movie was on TV - It's a Wonderful Life - but Randy didn't really want to watch it all AND he made fun of my favorite scene. And instead of standing up for myself or going to the lobby, I was a mean old baby and sulked. I was SURE I told him before he married me I need to see it all this time of year. At least twice.)

I carefully carried the cookies through security (checked first, ready to check them in case I couldn't take them home) and then brought them carefully on the plane. I put them under my seat. They were 14K gold to me.

We finally got home around 5 p.m. and had to fetch Jeffrey and get dinner. Pouring rain, etc. Dampened my mood. Everything was so demanding. I was ready for a break.

Back from dinner, I sat myself in the big chair and I smiled prettily at Randy (ok, I tried) as I opened the box bearing my Christmas goodie treats. It was TIME, Daddy. It was TIME. I mentioned to sweet, understanding Randy that these were MINE since he could get treats anywhere.

I lifted the box lid. Glory hallelujah! I had cookies fit for a queen.

Melanie had already told me there were GF brownie bites in there, so I handed one of those to Randy because I'm nicer than I look. And then I ate:
A turtle
Two Snowballs
A Magic Cookie Bar
Three little trees.
A pecan tassie

And there are some left!

Words cannot express how much I appreciated the cookies themselves, and the gesture behind them. Melanie, thank you again!

If you're looking for some good cookie recipes, go to http://theglutigirls.blogspot.com/ The turtles are near the top, and there are two cookie posts at least!

I couldn't do this post today without noting the holiday contributions of four of my bestest blogger buddies:

My dear Gluten-Free Steve (love HIM!) has awesome cookies linked from David's site. Anything made with a York Peppermint Patty is good by me! (I am Peppermint Patty in Charlie Brown. That's me.)
http://davidcastleart.wordpress.com/2006/12/24/chocolate-mint-sandwich-christmas-cookie-recipe-with-gluten-free-option/

And my Southern Blogger chick buddy, Carrie, the Ginger Lemon Girl -- cookie roundup there! Big hugs to my southern sister in gluten freedom!
http://www.gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com/

And my Texas buddy Cassandra, who is amazing (and whom I hope to meet next week when we're in Dallas), well, she has all kinds of goodies on her blog. http://delightfullyglutenfree.blogspot.com/
She has some great ideas for last-minute homemade gifts! (big hug to you and those cute little boys!)

Sweet Kate of Gluten free Gobsmacked has naked men on her site! OK, cookie men. And the greatest candy. I love it. Check it out. (xoxo chickie) http://glutenfree.wordpress.com/

And a special shoutout to my friend Alexsandra who was going to COMMISSION me some cookies! Her blog is so inspirational -- it makes me think. I love it! http://www.transformedbywords.com/

So that's it. I did a roundup of cookie roundups. It's the closest as I'm going to get to posting a recipe. But you can count on me for improvision. I'll save that for tomorrow or Tuesday.

Much love, minus the baking gene,
Ging

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blogger buddies and care packages

We're still in Indianapolis, but I wanted to write and tell a special story.

One of my blogger friends, Melanie of The Gluti Girls, lives here in Indy. When she found out we were passing within a MILE of her house, she suggested a safe place to eat dinner. I suggested we dine together.

Melanie didn't feel great, but she sent her lovely husband Steve to the restaurant WITH A BOX OF COOKIES FOR ME! She knows I am missing the baking gene because she reads here...BUT anyway, Steve showed up with cookies and asked if he could join us for dinner. We were delighted to dine with hiim -- the place was very nice, and I don't anticipate any reaction.
We had a great time chatting and getting to know each other.

After dinner, Steve called and Melanie was feeling OK, so we rode over and got to sit around her lovely kitchen table, and we met her cute puppies and talked Gluten free food. I meant to take a picture for the blog with the cell phone camera, but we got so caught up in talking...time got away and we had to run. The rental car was due back at 8 p.m.

We're heading home tomorrow, and I'm kinda sad. I would have loved to have crashed the big party :-). I would have at least gone over and helped you chopped veggies and Velveta, Melanie.

You know, we're lucky out here in the GF blogosphere. We make friends. We share stories. Our lives become richer. Georgia's not nearly so far away from Indiana out here in the blog roll.

And when we're very lucky, we get care packages with GF cookies!

Much love,
Ging

Thursday, December 13, 2007

GF Pizza = manna from heaven

My sweet husband did some research and found a GF Pizza in Bloomington, Indiana for me.

Lennie's = lennies.bloomington.com

I am bowing to you, chef Fred Manion. You created GF crust that is so tasty, no one would know it was GF. WONDEFUL STUFF. We had ours with two kinds of sausage and mushroom.

YUM. I was in heaven. First pizza in about six months.

Also, I am bowing in the direction of the Grant Street Inn, which was so gracious in making sure the breakfast buffet offerings were GF for me. I had a delish egg dish, homemade hashbrowns, and bacon. YUM. And while they have more those who ingest gluten, it was lovely all the same. It's a beautiful (and reasonably priced) B&B just blocks from the IU campus (where we're doing research).

I met a lovely woman and her IU student daughter -- LSS her husband was diagnosed with CD just last week, so I told her about the blog, the blogroll, and the CD forum. If she comes by here, HI again, and I wish you good luck in your life conversion! Just holla if you need anything.

Much love. Did I mention it's cold in Indiana? Damn....
Ging

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eating Out is Risky

I've been eating at home now for about five months, eating out so rarely that I've had very few incidents of glutening.

But Saturday night, I had the mother of all glutening. In addition to all the gastric distress, headache, aches, you GF friends know, I got a rash this time. A big one. It hit my feet, hands, arms and knees. I am still itching from it. It has made me blisterty and scraped all over, and it's really kind of nasty. I feel like a puppy dog with fleas.

From a GF standpoint (as this is a blog about GF issues) though, the big problem with my being glutened was -- it was at a restaurant with a dedicated GF menu! A GFRAP association place. I got glutened (again) at PF Chang's.

I wrote them a strongly worded email (twice in six months) and explains my horror that this could happen. I would understand it at Ruby Tuesday's (which doesn't try) or Applebees, but Chang's? Dedicated GF menu. CLUELESS kitchen? Waitstaff? I don't know.

What did surprise me was that I got both an email and a phone call from the store's lead management. He promised me a letter to tell me what he was going to do at the store. And he offered me a refund. I thought that was nice. I didn't want that, mind you, but he did offer me what I DID want most -- a promise he'd work on the kitchen at the Tampa PF Chang's. If it helps ONE person....you know.

But it got me thinking: When we get glutened by a GF Menu, is anything safe? I don't hardly know what to trust.

I don't know how to feel right now. We're on the road next week for 11 days, and I'll be away from my GF kitchen. I'm truly scared of how I'm going to feel. Right now, I feel horrible.

On the cookie front: I was really wanting some holiday cookies, and I found some decent GF offerings in Tampa. Pamela's Anise Almond and Chocolate Biscotti are wonderful. I could see easily dipping them in some chocolate to make them more festive, but the anise ones tasted like those my Dad and Mama used to make. And Enjoy Life Snickerdoodles! Not my Mama's recipe, but a lovely cinnamon flavor. I loved them! They could be wonderful warmed up for company with some ice cream.

If I don't blog in the next couple days, it's because we're in Bloomington, Indiana at the Kinsey (yes THAT Kinsey) institute library doing research. Randy has found a GF Pizza Place in Bloomington, and we're staying at a B&B that knows what GF means. It's a start...

Happy week.
Much love, Ging

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A most wonderful season (A Sunday Blessing)

I know it's Saturday, but tomorrow is as booked a today! I'm in Tampa (a month with Randy! YAY) and we've been visiting friends and shopping for family for Christmas.

It's good to be home. That is my blessing right now. I miss Jeffrey but soon we'll all be reunited.

Mostly, though, I've been eating out, shopping, and playing with my honey. YAY.

Yesterday was Randy's office party, and it was so nice. He told them about my GF issues, and they went out of their way to get me a piece of grilled chicken, plus I had veggies and a salad, too. And three Chicken Wings. Did you know that Original Buffalo Wings from Anchor Bar in Buffalo are sold by mailorder on a cold pack? AND they're GF? I called them and asked. They don't flour them before frying, and there's no gluten in the sauce (they read it to me on the phone). You can get 50 wings sent to your door for $90 -- if you're into the authentic, it sounds like a lot of fun. And they were SO GOOD. www.anchorbar.com.

Last night I had a GF moment of joy -- thai food. Spring rolls made with rice paper (no wheat or soy sauce) and then pad thai with seafood (no flour or soy sauce. I also tasted Randy's satay and curry. YUM. That the place was willing to check ingredients for me made me happy, and I didn't get a bit sick that I could tell. I ate way too much, though. Then we made a Stein Mart run and went to Tuesday Morning AND Borders.

It was surreal today. It was 90 degrees and people were in shorts and flip flops. We should have put the top down (I got the Mustang cleaned up for Randy for a Christmas present). But we had fun. First we went to the Ybor City Market, and I did buy some honey. It is locally produced AND honestly, it was so distinctive. I could TASTE the difference in the seasons. Yum. Then we did a little GF shopping. I discovered Pamela's Anise flavored biscotti -- anise cookies are a staple in my family at Christmas. This might soothe that urge. And Snickerdoodles! I hope they're good.

We went to the mall (more surreal) Where I saw people in red and green tank tops. OK! And Santa flip flops. I won't say what we've bought, since I think some of our family reads my blog. But we're almost done. We have a lot to do these next couple weeks, that's for sure, so we need to get the shopping done.

We're also enjoying time with our friends. We are having dinner with Larry tonight (he was a reader at our wedding) and visiting with Tim and Robin tomorrow. Monday I get to see Andrew Aidan Humphrey (baby son of Uncle Buck to the Colonnade friends)and I can't wait to hold this little fella. I love it. He's one of Randy's former students. I don't think Randy is going to be an Aggie (adopted grandpa) like I always want to be an Aggie. Partly, I'm guessing, because he went to Texas.

As I look out our window, I see the grapefruit tree hanging with tons of beautiful pink grapefruit. We'll be picking those Tuesday morning to take on the trip and give out here and in between. They're looking good. SO are my two lemons.

I miss my Tampa home, its stores and its shopping, when I'm not here. I have fun these last two days.

Much love and happy holidays! This is part of it, right?
Ging

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Makin' Christmas

We had the office Christmas party, and I took my admin class out to lunch today. Tomorrow's my official last day of school for the year. Tonight, I made Christmas presents for my co-workers.

Things are really LEAN this year, more so than the last 10 years. With the hospital bills, etc. I am really streteched to the limit.

So I decided to make my Famous Jambalaya Mix for everyone. People have liked it in the past -- one friend asked for a big jar of it. So it is tried and true. I guess I've been making it for about seven years now!

I thought I'd share the recipe if you were in the mood for a hostess gift (I bought little airtight buckets at the Dollar Tree for mine) or a neighbor present. I'll also include the instructions.

Jammin' Jambalaya Mix (P.S. Naturally GF)
(per batch)

1.5 cups of long grain plain rice (NOT Minute Rice)
1 heaping T. dried onion
I heaping T. dried parsley
1 heaping T. dried green or red peppers (not hot peppers) (I used a red pepper/garlic mix)
1 heaping T. dried boullion powder (I use a GF tomato blend but beef or chicken is also good)
Optional 1 bay leaf
1/2 T. dried celery leaves (not salt or seed)
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. dried cayenne or red pepper flakes (hot stuff)

Mix the above in a tightly sealed container.

Instructions:

The enclosed container has close to 2 cups of rice mixture. You can divide it in half for two meals, or make one extra grande sized pot of jambalaya. One scant cup of the mix will serve 3-4 people. The whole thing will serve 6-8 people.

In a heavy bottomed Dutch over, brown the meats of your choice in olive oil. You can use cubed boneless chicken or turkey breast, sliced smoked sausage (even andouille if you're being authentic), or chopped or cubed ham. You can use whole cut up chicken pieces, leftover turkey, or even pork cubes. Figure six-eight oz. of meat per person. (So you might brown two chicken breasts with a package of smoked sausage for 3-4 people).

Brown the meat and leave it in the bottom of the pan. Add rice mix. Remember, one cup of the rice mix will serve three - four people; the entire container will serve between 6-8.

Stir rice mixture with meat to release spices and soften rice. When rice is well coated and sizzling, add TWO CUPS of water per cup of rice and a full can (14.5 oz) diced cut tomates with juice. If you don't like chunky tomatoes, add a 14 oz can of tomato sauce. If you're a snob about tomato in Jambalaya, add another cup of water. We can debate this later.

Bring mix to a boil and reduce to low heat and simmer til rice is soft and jambalaya is thick. It will take about 20 minutes. (I have a trick I use with rice. I fold two sheets of paper towers and put them under the lid (over the right) so the rice steams. Be careful not to let the paper towel catch on fire, but this is a great method for fluffy rice.)

If the jambalaya is too mild for you, season with hot sauce.

*************************

I enclosed little bottles of hot sauce for the friends at work who like hot sauce. I am hoping they'll like it. If you try it, I hope you'll like it too. I keep it on hand for Jeffrey -- he loves Jumbo Liar.

I hope you have a great day!

Much love,
Ging

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Students to be proud of (A Sunday Blessing)

Around here we're swamped with the end of the semester woes. I'm trying hard to get in the holiday spirit, but it's hard this year -- post surgery, I'm still feeling the pinch of doctor and hospital bills. It's going to be a LEAN and handmade holiday, for sure.

But I get a good, warm feeling when I think about the work of two of my class, and I wanted to take time out to say something about my PR and Admin Class, and especially my PR Writing Class.



One Tuesday, my PR Admin class put together a world-class Relay For Life Kickoff. The planned, pitched, fundraised, worked, and executed this even, which was attended by more than 100 community leaders.

The best part? The even was free of charge to the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life in Baldwin County. In turn, we made a contribution of more than $800 (cash and in kind) toward the fight against cancer.

I am so proud of the Newtwork!

But my Pr Writing Class, "The Girls Gone Wild (in PR Writing,) well, I have to say, they make me smile. I knew they had hearts of gold when I had my surgery a few weeks ago, but they've really shown their generosity.

They were also involved in the Relay kickoff, writing cancer survivor stories for the Baldwin Bulletin and also contributing to the script for the survivor slide show. One of the class, Lauren Edwards, was especially touched by her survivor, an 8-year-old named Hannah Layfield. Hannah is the Honorary Chair for the 2008 Relay For Life. She's a cutie, with an older brother who protects her, and a mama and daddy who would (and have) done anything for her.


Lauren had the idea we should make a Christmas basket for the family, and the class jumped on it. In just a couple of days, these 14 girls have FILLED this basket with toys, games, candy, gift cards, and MONEY for the family. They are digging deep, asking their friends and family for contributions, and on Tuesday, we'll assemble this basket for delivery.

They even talked our class client, a local photographer, into donating a family portrait. How wonderful!

I know people say a lot of things about the shallowness of college students today, but you won't see it in these two classes! By and large, they are generous, thoughtful young adults, and I"m proud to know them. I'm proud to teach them.

They make my heart smile, and I hope they'll make yours smile, too. THEY remember the reason for the season!

I may be poor in the checkbook right now, but I"m infinitely RICH in those I know and love.

Much love to my students!
Ging (AKA Dr. Carter Miller)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The baking gene


Some people are great bakers, but somehow, I was born without the baking gene.

My mother, well, she was a great baker. She made cakes all the time -- chocolate pound cakes, fresh apple cakes, sour cream pound cakes, and Snickerdoodles and cheese straws. Snickerdoodles. Jeffrey loves them. I'll never forget, my Mom made Jeffrey a batch of Snickerdoodles not long before she died. He kept them in the bottom of the freezer for years, in a sense keeping her alive, I guess.

And her cheese straws. Flour, Rice Krispies, Grated Cheese, Butter, and Cayenne pepper. Not much, but I could sure mess them up. I NEVER made them the way she did. I miss those things.

I think there are two reasons I'm a lousy baker. 1. I'm not precise with measurements, which is required when you bake. 2. I'm not patient with doughs and baking. I am not one who will bake seven batches of cookies from a big bowl of dough.

I do OK with pies (can't make a crust for anything, though) and I do OK with some cookie-like things that don't require precise measurements, like oatmeal no bakes and date nut balls.

But I was born without the baking gene. I can cook about anything, but I just can't bake.

This deficiency in my character was made clear today when I had to watch my cooking doppleganger, Paula Deen, make cookie after cookie on her show. She did make one cookie with oats -- I have certified GF oats -- but this cookie was one that required three kinds of sugar, and two kinds of chips, and all that. Nope. No Patience. And Sandra Lee. Is there a way to make a semi-homemade gluten free cookie? I don't think so, scooter.

I do have one bag of a mix that is supposed to make cookies, and I am hanging on to it, just in case a spirit moves me.

So now, 'tis the season for cookies, and now that I am gluten free, I don't have the same resources for my once-a-year cookie fix. There's a great bakery here in Milledgeville, Ryals, and I'll miss buying their cookie basket there. And in Tampa, there are all kinds of possibilities for cookies -- Wright's Gourmet House, Alessi Bakery, random bake sales.

I know I have Pamela's packaged cookies and the Trader Joe's Ginger Snaps, but somehow, they're just not the same.

What I want more than anything is a plate full of homemade GF sugar cookies, with a little of sprinkled sugar on top. Or maybe, just for Jeffrey, some GF Snickerdoodles. I'm going to have to move through a season of holidays at friends and relatives houses from here to Texas and back with no chance of cookies.

If you want to read about the joys of gluten-free baking, I'm not your girl. Go to The Gluti Girls site, or Gluten Free Girl (the links are on the sidebar). They've got recipes, plans, and tips. I'm envious. I'll live vicariously through them.

But bake? Not I!

Bah, Humbug.

Much love, Ging

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Soup for 100


Tonight I felt like I was in a chapter of the book Stone Soup. You remember that book, where the guy starts out with a rock and some water, and all his friends brough stuff to make a good soup.

Well I brought the pot, two onions, some old celery, and a bag of Tinkyada fusili. And I still have a large container of soup left, after feeding 83 people and sending a gracious plenty home with two different people.

So here's the short version of the story. I made a minnestrone soup for the Relay For Life Kickoff, which my class always plans and fundraises, and the soup is what the team had on the menu. I'm Italian, and that's an easy one. Two of my classes brough in stuff for the food for tonight, and a few of us made the food. Shoutout to the early cooking crew: Georgia, Rachel, Lindsey, Katie, and Mallory Jones, chopper extraordinaire.

The hard part? Not tasting the food with gluten (three pans of homemade Monkey Bread that Rachel, Georgia, and Katie assembled as I drooled). We did the soup and the spinach dip, and then I let them get to work on the stuff with Gluten.

OK, so to the soup: It was awesome. I was suprised, but it was really good. So here is the recipe for the minnestrone soup I made tonight.

This is scaled down for a big pot of soup.

2 cans of chicken or veggie broth (about a quart of broth)
2 cans of Italian spiced diced tomatoes (around 28 ounces)
one chopped red (or yellow) onion and a half cup chopped celery
1 can each kidney and garbanzo beans
1 can green beans (drained)
1 can drained diced potatoes
2 fresh zucchini, sliced thin

Sautee the onion and zucchini in olive oil and then add all the canned stuff. Season with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and a generous pinch of Italian seasoning (about 2 t.).

Simmer for a couple of hours on the stove. Turn it off, add 1 - 2 cups of Tinkyada fusili and let stand for about 20 minutes. Soup will be perfectly thick and the pasta will al dente (and not mushy at all).

Correct seasoning. Before serving, sprinkle with some grated parmesan cheese.

Much love, and I'm going to drop into a sleepy heap now.

Ging the soup meister

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The end of the semester (A Sunday Blessing)

I tried to think of something positive to say about the end of the semester, and here it is:

Next Tuesday, Dec. 4, the semester will be over. Finally.

That's all i got :-)

Much love,
Ging

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Now what?

Happy Thanksgiving ya'll. I have plenty of food and leftovers I've made in the fridge, and we had a good time at Pam and Pat's house (where we usually go if in Milledgeville).

The day was not without catastrophe.
•I fell asleep and while I was napping, the water burned out of the lima beans (I have done this before) so it smelled like a fire scene in here -- AND I had to recreate the lima/corn veggies I was bringing.
•My breadmaker "threw up" and the risen dough was all down the side and on the element. I took the dough basket out, loaded the dough into muffin tins, and made rolls. They were good. I think they'll make good ham sandwiches.
•I'm not sure I didn't get glutenated at lunch, but not on purpose. I checked ingredients on all I ate, but I don't know what was on the counter...etc. I feel very yucky now.

Jeffrey had two dinners -- one at his Dad's, one at Pam's -- and got to swim in the hot tub and play cops and robbers with some of his younger friends. We played poker, and I won the final hand, which was about seven bucks. Full house, Kings and Queens.

So we're home. Randy is snoring in the chair, I feel sketchy and am heading to the Pepto and Milk of Magnesia.

I have no pictures. I have some leftovers. And the day is over.

But Much Love and happy day.
Ging

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thai Chicken and Rice

One of my students, Aubrey Nazarro, is a budding young chef, and made me this wonderful dish when I was out with my surgery. With all the talk of Thanksgiving, I thought it might be nice to have a dish that DIDN'T taste of poultry seasoning or pumpkin this week (Flaming Turkey Rolls!)


Aubrey's Gluten-FreeThai Chicken and Rice

White jasmine, texmati, or other white rice
2 tablespoon light vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1 onion (optional), cut bite size
2 red bell peppers, cut bite size
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Gluten free soy sauce
Gluten free hoisin sauce
Hot Thai chili paste
1 green onion sprig, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup salted peanuts (optional)
A handful of cilantro (optional)
Start rice according to package directions.

Heat oils in large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat. Add the garlic to the hot oil, and watch it carefully so it doesn̢۪t burn. Cut chicken into thin strips and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken and stir fry until golden, 2-3 minutes. Push chicken off to sides of the skillet, and add onions and peppers to the center of the pan. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes, then combine with meat.

Toss a good drizzle of soy sauce, about 4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, and Thai chili paste (according to your taste) into the mix, as well as the chopped green onion and the basil leaves. Once the leaves have wilted, remove from heat and serve over rice. Garnish with chopped, salted peanuts and cilantro.

It was delicious, and I didn't get glutened. I hated to finish it all up, so I might have to make some more myself.

Much love, and happy Monday!

Ging

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Thankful Meme (A Sunday Blessing)

I have been planning this all week!

All right, all you readers with blogs of your own. I am tagging you and starting this meme, called
"!0 Things I'm Thankful For This Year" Now I don't know why they call it a "Meme," but there was one going around last summer and, though I didn't get tagged, they called it a "meme." So it's a "meme."

I think it is important to remember the good stuff, since the bad stuff seems to weigh us down so much.

So get on those blogs and tell the world why you're thankful this year! And TAG your friends who read your blog. In the end, we'll have HUNDREDS of things to rejoice about, instead of being sad or upset.

10 things I'm thankful for this yea, in no particular order:

1. That I don't have cancer
2. That after going gluten free, I feel better than I've felt in seven years.
3. That I have my Dad. He is 84. (I'm sad today because Martha Stewart's Mother died. They were real close.)
4. That I have my Jeffrey, the best kid in the world.
5. That Tinkyada makes pasta. And Kinnickinick makes cookies like Oreos. And Trader Joe's makes Ginger Snaps. AND THAT JIMMY JOHNSON WON THE NEXTEL CUP FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW! (OK, I just added that!)
6. That we had a wonderful time on our family cruise in July.
7. That I have new babies in my life -- Hendley, Addison, and soon, Tyler.
8. That people actually think my blog is funny. And some people said it helps them. And that I've made friends like Kate, and Carrie, and Steve, and Ginger of the North, and Aleksandra, and Carol, and Cassandra from it. Oh, and The Gluti Girls and Lori in Atlanta.
9. and 10. That I've got Randy. I'm so thankful for him, he's worth two spaces!

Now you do it! Remember why you're thankful this year! if you don't have a blog, post it in the comments. If you don't post in the comments, write it on a piece of paper and stick it to your refigerator!

Much love to you all!
Ginger

A post-scipt: As soon as I posted this and re=read it, I realized that I could keep adding to it for hours and hours. I am blessed with many, many wonderful friends. I didn't mention OLD friends by name, only new GF blogger friends. It was a sin of omission, I promise you. I could easily start with the wonderful friends with names that begin with the letter J.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thanks to all my friends -- both GF and gluten-eating -- i have finally figured out why I'm dreading Thanksgiving so much.

1. It's a holiday solely centered on food -- food that generally I can't eat. Food that I tend to love.

2. It's my FIRST major holiday since going GF.

3, People just don't naturally think to prepare GF food on this holiday, unless they're the ones who are GF. So I have low expectations that food at my friend's house will be stuff I can eat (I am hoping for deviled eggs, potato salad, vegetables. I am hoping the ham is GF. But no mac and cheese, no stuffing, probably no sweet potatoes, and no desserts).

4. I want someone to cook for me. I want to contribute to the meal, but I don't want to cook it all unless I have a table full of people. I am at least blessed that Randy would take me ANYWHERE to dinner if they'd feed me like I needed to be fed.

5. I'm not-so-secretly bummed because I was invited to a totally GF Thanksgiving Feast in Atlanta today, and I couldn't go because Jeffrey's been sick. I think that has been the straw. I was going there, then to Trader Joe's and then to Whole Foods. Instead I'm sitting here watching stupid food shows thinking how I can convert the gluten.

So I'm trying to get a new attitude. I'm leaning toward our still going to Pam's. I'll ask a few questions before I go but I'll pack most of my own meal. I'm going to make the green bean casserole (I test drove the GF one last night,) and I'm going to make myself a BIG pan of dressing (actually, a tiny pan for me to eat at her house, and a pan for us here). I'm also going to make two turkey breast rolls we have in the freezer. I haven't decided about sweet potatoes yet. I'll probably make my congealed salad (because it is so easy). And I willt make some other vegetables, depending on when we're eating. Nothing fancy. I won't spend all day in the kitchen while Randy watches TV and plays Scrabble online. And I'll have some leftovers. He'll get a full meal with all the goodies.

Come to think of it, I'm also going to make a crustless pecan pie and a carrot cake. Yeah. I have all the stuff. I don't need much sweets. Just a little.

And while eating out is always risky, I am going to go more for the social interaction than the food. That is a skill I need to learn.

Truth be told, I have invited EVERYONE I could to our house so we could have a normal looking holiday. My logic was I could make a totally GF meal for everyone, and I'd have my social situation too. It was actually worth it to me to do this. Sadly, no one will come. My Dad and Mary had already made other plans when I asked them; so had another set of friends. And my friend Jess is too bogged down with school projects to come visit. ALL understandable reasons.

So I will do my version of this for Randy and me (Jeffrey won't eat most of this stuff and may be at his Dad's).

But to my gluten-eating friends, I say, YOU try this. There is nothing as frustrating as walking into a social food situation and finding there is nothing you can eat at all. Or having someone tell you, while everyone else is eating hot snacks and sandwiches and such, "well, there's fruit."

And to quote my GF blogger friend Alexandra I should focus this year on how thankful I am -- thankful that I don't have cancer, thankful that I'm feeling better since going GF, thankful that I have ALL OF YOU. Yeah.

It's midnight, and it's time for me to check out of this pity party (thanks, Cassandra. I love that).

I'm going to bake some cornbread for dressing. Jess, you inspired me.

Much love, and I'm working on that bad attitude.
Ging

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving. Angst. Would you like some WHINE with that Turkey


All my gluten free friends are swapping recipes and posting menus on their blogs, and I've been thinking about Thanksgiving a lot.

I have a horrible confession to make.

I hate Thanksgiving. It causes me great angst.

This all stems back to the fact that when I was a kid, we rarely did the big "Thanksgiving Day" and I rarely remember Thanksgiving with extended family (last one I remember was when I was in college -- we went to Connecticut in 1974 and 1976).

I spent most of my youthful TDays at Morrison's Cafeteria or the Holiday Inn Buffet. Once in a while my Mom would cook, but there was always so much angst attached to it -- fights over turkey temperature, etc. I mostly laid on the floor and watched the parades. In about 1975, my Mom concocted a "new" family dinner consisting of Countryside Chicken Bake and Yam Baskets Louisianne. She also served corn pudding from the Southern Living cookbook from that. I inherited the tattered, faded recipes for those. I still love those recipes.

Thanksgiving was a big deal in my ex's family, and his mother always killed the fatted turkey for the whole crew. I hated not spending Thanksgiving with my parents, but his folks invited them over, and we all had dinner together. Once in a while I cooked at our house. It was a huge, angst-filled production. That went on for a long, long time. It was OK when we could bring home extra dressing -- I would just open a can of Ocean Spray and I would be happy. But most of it was angst. (I remember really enjoying cooking in 1983. I was in Germany. I was proud of that meal. And one or two in the late 80s, maybe. 1997 we had a lot of fun. But I digress.)

That's it. To me, Thanksgiving meals are a lot of angst. I HATE cooking for Thanksgiving. There. I said it.

The perfect Thanksgivings for the past four years have been with Randy. We always go to someone else's house (Usually my friend Pam, who has a great, crazy family). We bring home leftovers. (Pam doesn't mind sending us home with food). And I don't have to do much work. I have a lot of great home cookin and have fun! And I bring home food in exchange for a side dish or two.

So we're invited to Pam's again, but this year, I'm GF, and this lunch is fraught with cross-contamination danger. Randy said we should just stay here, but I just don't want to cook what I want to eat!

If I have to cook, I'd make turkey breast, my Southern Cornbread Dressing, and a GF modified green bean casserole. But that's about it. And Randy won't eat the green bean casserole. There would be corn. I might make some frozen/refrigerated mashed potatoes. Maybe. But if I mostly want to eat at someone's house, I don't want to have to bring the food I'll eat with me. I can't eat her turkey (she makes a rockin turkey) because she stuffs it, which causes cross contamination. I don't know what is in the glaze of the ham, so I don't know if it's GF. I know all the desserts are out. My favorite food is dressing. Can't have none of that. To me, the greatest thing about Thanksgiving is leftover dressing and that can of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce.

I guess the bottom line is -- I want someone to cook for me for Thanksgiving. And now, I can't get anything that resembles it without doing it myself. Which I don't want to do.

This is so dreadful! I love food, and I love cooking, and I am THANKFUL, but the thought of making Thanksgiving dinner this year just drives me nuts. I guess I'm feeling a little sad. I can't have my Thanksgiving and eat it, too, anymore.

I'll get over it. I promise. Don't worry, honey. I won't let you starve.

Much love, and I'm sorry I'm so WHINY
Ging

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

United Nations World Diabetes Day Nov. 14, 2007

I have type II diabetes, and have lived with it since 1991.

Millions of people around the world have diabetes -- both type I and type II, diagnosed and undiagnosed -- and today is a day in their honor.

I am one of 246 million people in the world who have diabetes, and our ranks will grow in the next 20 years to more than 380 million. Alarming. Frightening. Dangerous.

This is a reminder to encourage your family members to check regularly for diabetes during doctor bloodwork. All it takes is a simple blood test, but it can save your life.

Believe me when I say I wish I'd been more attentive to my problems when I was first diagnosed. Because of complications of my causation, I am now legally blind in my right eye and have significant stomach and digestive problems because of diabetic neuropathy. My dear aunt has lost her leg and in on dialysis because of her complications.

All it takes is a simple blood test and care.

In honor of the day, and thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, here's one of my favorite sugar-free, gluten-free dishes. It was one of the first I learned.

Cool Pineapple Jell-0 Mold

1 small box of sugar free Jell-O (SF Black Cherry and Cranberry are good. So is Orange)
1 large can of crushed pineapple
1 cup of buttermilk (nonfat is good here)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Boil Jell-O powder with pineapple in a saucepan. Add the buttermilk. Stir in the nuts. Pour into mold.
Chill til firm and serve.
Can be easily doubled and placed in a 13 by 9 pan and cut into squares for serving.

Believe it or not, it makes a beautiful cream-like Jell-O congealed salad. Perfect for those of us who can't make Jell-O.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News items of note to the Gluten Free (and others)

The morning news today was filled with health information. If you didn't see it, I thought it was interesting and want to alert you to the media.

1. Beware of sodium-infused chicken. A new report points out that just because chicken is labeled "all natural" doesn't mean that it is free of additives. Many/most chicker purveyors (like Perdue, which was shown many times) add a solution of salt water (brine) to the chicken to make it moister and plumper (and, this will also preserve it better).

The report said that a four ounce chicken breast has more sodium than a large order of McDonald's fries. Holy crap!

And, this additive is not labeled, so you might not know it.

Add this to shocking tales of chicken abuse (I watched Chicken Run the other night -- gotta love a movie with a lead character named "Ginger") and the fact that chicken parts can come from diseased chickens (ewwwww) and it makes me wonder if any chicken breast is safe.

You can tell if a chicken has been injected with this solution. It is tender and very uniform when cooked. It won't get dry and stringy. Natural, organic, hormone free chicken can be decidedly UNtasty stuff.

Solution? Read the labels, friend, and question everything. I have started buying organic chicken, or at least whole chickens that are not packaged in flashy packages.

2. Beware of carbon-dioxide treated beef -- especially ground beef. I've talked about this before (See "A trip to the Abattoir") but a senate committee will be discussing this today. Beef produces you CO2 to enhance the color of beef, making it shelf-stable (and red) longer than it probably should be. This is an issue especially with ground meat, but it applies to any meat that is cut.
Solution: A lot of people have already given up beef, but it can still be safe. READ the labels and buy organic when you can. It is not more expensive (contrary to popular opinion) and it is healthier for you. Buy it and freeze it for optimal use.



3. Women with hourglass shapes (big hips and small waists) are healthier and now, apparently, smarter too. I am so SOL. of course, whom did they use for their example? J-Lo and Shakira. Please.






Of course, I am shaped more like this, i.e. straight up and down (but much thicker):











Much love, and I hope you have a great day, and watch that chicken and beef!
Ging

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Randy and ME! (More than a Sunday Blessing)



Two years ago today, Randy and I got married. With the birth of my son, Jeffrey, our wedding day ties for the honor of happiest day of my life.

I'd been unhappily married before -- we tried, we really did. But on this second wedding day, I felt none of the apprehension or anxiety I felt that first time.

I knew it was right. I still know it's right, in spite of the 410 mile distance. You see, like they said in Sex and the City, you get two chances at GREAT love in your life. And mine came along on a stroll back from the theater in New York City in 2003. Like getting smacked in the head by a two by four.

Those of you who were there remember what a beautiful day our wedding day was -- perfect fall weather, like today -- and how Allen's Market was packed with 100 people. All the flowers were beautiful, the music and readings were so sweet, and we had more fun than should be allowed on such a special, sacred day. It was PERFECT.

So there have been bumps in the past two years -- can't get a job in Tampa, problems with health, etc. -- there has also been much joy. I wouldn't trade a minute of it, even with the six-hour commute. Randy is worth every mile I drive to see him.

Randy wrote me a poem today on my Facebook wall. I had to share it because -- it's all about me and contains tons of inside references.!

You're the top!
You're Penzey's Spice team.
You're the top!
You're Blue Bell ice cream.
You're a Broadway tune that is crooned by Stokes.
You're a Chico's spree,
And gluten-free,
You're Bobby Flay.
You're armadillo cake.
You're Jimmy Choo heels
Jimmie Johnson on wheels.
I'm Nana's cookies, stale soda pop,
But if, honey, I'm the bottom you're the top!

I simply cannot top that. I can't.

But I did write

A recipe for happiness with the man I will always love:

Take one closet full of color-coded jerseys
Combine with a pit stop at Ellis Bros. Pecans
Mix in a quick run to the Original Lee Roy Selmon's for RIBS!
And a trip to the fruit stand for some pineapple.
Add a dash of obsessive weekend football viewing
And trips together all around the world.
Temper it with the frustration of a long-distance romance
but add a hint of humor and patience to balance out the flavor.
Stir up OFTEN and with VIGOR
And you have us: Not perfect, perhaps, but still a damn good mix.

or to quote Don Richardson at our wedding, who quoteth "The Princess Bride":

I asked the Lord of Permanent Affection for the strength to live through the day. [He said], “Mawidge is a dweam of wuv, twuw wuv, wapped wiffin the gweater dweam of everwasting west. Wemember that and wuv wiw fowwow you fowever.”

Happy Anniversary, Randy. Do you really know how much I love you? We might not live together all the time under one roof, but we love together always, with one heart.

G

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bison Chili

Kroger was having a crisis of space yesterday and marked down all its ground bison meat to $1.99 a pound. I don't know if you've ever ventured to Ted's Montana Grill (or some other establishment that sells the humble buffalo) but ground bison is extraordinarily lean meat and very tasty. It's not treated with hormones, is antibiotic free, and wasn't due to expire until after Thanksgiving.

I bought five packages! And two are now the base of some Bison Chili.

Actually, Friday morning is my favorite time of the week to go to the store. That's when they mark down all the produce and organic dairy -- and I almost always come away with a savings of $30 or so on products that are marked down for weekend space, not because they're expired. For example, I've gotten organic eggs for $1.45 a dozen. Eggs last a LONG time past their expiration date -- so I stock up. And Pom juice -- I got a gallon of the stuff yesterday for the cost of two bottles. I love it. Ask at your store when they do they serious marking down -- my Kroger is on Friday and Saturday morning. I make a special trip.

Today's a big football day if you didn't know it. Auburn v. Georgia. Two years ago, Randy and I got married on the day of the Auburn - Georgia game, and as a wedding present to us, Auburn won (or Georgia lost, you choose) in the last few minutes. I am still appreciative to my UGA friends for giving that to me as a wedding gift. Very sweet.

But back to the chili. Right now it's simmering away in the Crock Pot with tomatoes, on its way to being Bison Chili. Here's how I make Chili in the Crock Pot that is so easy, you'll do it all the time.

Bison Chili in the Crock Pot

1 large onion, diced very finely (I used my food processor since it was already being used for chicken salad this morning)
2 T. Sliced jarred jalepanos.
1 T. jarred garlic
2 pound ground bison OR ground sirloin or round. This will not work with a beef with less than 93 percent lean! It will puddle up in fat and be tres yucky.
3 14 oz cans of tomatoes, diced. I varied the flavors -- sweet onion, etc.
1 package of Texas Chili seasoning (you can use Carroll Shelby brand. I had a package my brother in law Ron sent me for my birthday.

Cpmbine all ingredients in the Crock Pot and simmer high for four hours.

Wait. No browning the beef? I've learned in just the last six months that you don't have to brown extra lean ground beef -- in fact, it seems to be jucier (and not as boring) if it cooks in a tomato sauce like this. You won't have the fat, but you will have the deep, rich sauce.

When the chili is done, here is where my husband and I part company: Beans. I love pinto beans in my chili. Others love red kidney. My husband considers it herasey to put beans in chili. He is a Texan through and through.

So he's not here. I'll add two cans of pintos, drained and rinsed, in about four hour -- or about half time of the Georgia Auburn game. But I am going to make some GF fusili this afternoon, and serve my chili on mac with cheddar. Yum.

Much love, and I WILL give a War Damn Eagle for my team on my blog (you Dawg fans do it all the time on yours). And no, Dawg fans, I'll talk no smack here until the end arrives. You see, I remember last year....
But I will do a little cheer!

BODYGETTA CHEER
Bodygetta Bodygetta Bodygetta Bah
Rah Rah Rah
Sis Boom Bah
Weagle Weagle
War Damn Eagle
Kick em in the butt, Big Blue
Hey!

Ging
AU Class of '79

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen...A new look for GFINGF


Introducing the designs of Cooper Dobbs van Rossum.
Thanks, Cooper. Take a bow.
Cooper is one of my most talented (ever) advertising students, and he graciously designed my new logo.
I think the new header design is great. I hope you do, too.

Much love, and aren't my students the BEST?
Ging

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pumpkin Mouse


Cheers to my bud Kate for this idea! YAY. it's my first GF TDay so I need inspiration. You inspire my, mi amiga!

I remember once editing a story about "Chocolate Mousse" and the student kept spelling it mouse. I thought of it when I got a card today from the American Cancer Society, thanking me for all my volunteer work for Relay For Life.

In it was a recipe I decided I would make for dessert for Thanksgiving. I think Randy will like it better than pumpkin pie, and I know I had something like this last year at Pam's house and loved it. I adapted it to GF very easily with yummy Trader Joe's gingersnaps.

So adapted from the ACS card (did they know I don't have cancer? They noted it is a time to give thanks, and I agree)

Pumpkin Mouse

2 cans unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 5.1 oz packages vanilla instand pudding mix (I will use sugar free)
2 T. good cinammon plus 1 t. divided
1 t. Allspice
1 t. nutmeg (freshly grated)
1 t. cloves (my addition)
5 cups of light (not fat free ) (GF) Cool Whip or other GF Whipped Container Topping
20 gluten free gingersnaps (from Trader Joe's or Midel) slightly crushed *but not pulverized
Reserve 1/2 c. crumbs in a bowl on the side.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin, vanilla pudding, 2 T cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Add Four cups of whipped topping.

Line bottom of trifle dish with half of gingersnaps. Top with hald pumpkin and half whipped cream. Repeat layer, ending with whipped cream. Sprinkle with a few gingersnap crumbs and cinnamon.

Cool three hours and serve. Serves 8.

Much love, and don't you love pumpkin? I sure do!
Ging

Saturday, November 3, 2007

World's Best Husband (A Sunday Blessing)


It occurred to me, I never seem to write about Randy.

in about 9 days, Randy and I will have been married for two years. We have known each other since the mid 1990s -- we met at an AEJMC meeting, don't know which one exactly.

But I do know when we became friends: The weekend of the MC&S midwinter meeting April 1-3, 1998, in Tampa. We had an hour long conversation on a bus and I realized that we were "of the same mind" about so many things. He and I were sitting across the aisle from each other on the bus. My ex and Jeffrey were in the row in front of me. Go figure.

What some of you don't know is we don't live in the same city through the year. Randy teaches and lives in Tampa, and I teach and live here. We visit. A lot. Sure it's tough. But we haven't known any other life as a couple, and we live for the time when we can be in the same city in the same house full time. Whenever and wherever that is.

So what do you need to know about Randy, the love of my life? Like me, he loves good food, eating in wonderful restaurants, travel, disco music (and The Manhattan Transfer), and real humor. We love many of the same movies and many of the same shows.

He is a loyal friend like no one I know. He had high school friends who came to our wedding -- I'm not even in touch with anyone I went to high school with right now. He's the kind of guy who "keeps in touch". He's also loyal to his family. And now he's added my family.

He's smart. I'd imagine MENSA level high smart. MUCH smarter than I am, really. He can do the Times Sunday Crossword with an ink pen. Sometimes he makes me feel really dumb, but he keeps me on my toes.

He loves sports and knows more about sports than just about any man alive. I swear I think he could Stump the Schwab! He's loyal to his teams (I can't watch a USF football game with him when they're losing -- I'm afraid for my dishes when they do something stupid). He loves all sports except NASCAR, and he admits he tolerates it because of me and especially Jeffrey.

Since I got out of the hospital last Monday, Randy has been here trying to take care of me. I say trying because I'm not an easy person to take care of when I'm sick. I'm grumpy. I'm picky. On Monday, he fielded (and made) all the phone calls with the good news from the surgery -- no cancer. I know he was scared as I was, but he held it in and didn't say anything except positive thoughts. And he e has been here all week, bored out of his skull, taking Jeffrey to work and picking him up, and running to the store for me to get this pill or that juice. He's had to fend for himself on meals (I'm not cooking for obvious reasons and we've eaten up all the food my students brought Wednesday and that I cooked last weekend). He picked up after himself, he put the toilet seat down all week (YAY) and he didn't complain to me about how bored he was a single time. He has also dealt with the fact that I'm in instant menopause because of the surgery, so the hormonal moments and hot flashes and insomnia is already starting. I'll be on HRT by Thanksgiving, honey, I hope.

Jeffrey said the other day, aren't we lucky we have Randy? I said yes. Yes we are lucky. And blessed.

He's been here in case I needed him. All week. All the time. No matter how bored he was. And this isn't the first time -- this is the third operation I've had since we've been married and fourth since we' started dating. (It has been a tough couple of years). And he's been here for me through all of them.

About all I've ever said here on this blog about Randy is how lucky I am. Well, now I think you know why I'm so lucky.

I love you Randy. Thanks for being all mine. Thanks for taking good care of me. Just thanks.

G

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Post op update

One of my favorite shows of all time is Thirtysomething. It remains my favorite of all the series/dramas. I know it was a little Whineysomething sometimes. I didn't care. I loved it.

There was a poignent (and Emmy-winning) series of episodes when one of the characters, Nancy, figoes through the process of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I kept thinking about that a lot this past couple of weeks. Up to the point when they told me I didn't have cancer, it was an identical process, and I could relate to closely to it. Thankfully I don't have cancer, but Nancy did OK too. She's all grown up now and playing a bitchy woman on Brothers and Sisters. That's what i call a survivor.

Three funny things stood out from those episodes that I have seen in parallel here:

1. Nancy was overrun with banana bread. I am overrun with fruit. I am happy because I have been eating mostly fruit and yogurt for the past four days. But I will enough apples and oranges for all the kids' Christmas stockings.

2. I don't understand this no driving thing. OK, I understand it while I'm in darvocet land, but seriously, to quote Nancy in one episode, since when do you need ovaries to drive a car? What, are they nature's GPS?

3. The menopausal symptoms that come from dead ovaries (I know guys, TMI) well they happen fast. I'm already starting on the hot flashes (or is it a fever breaking) and the insomnia!

But we had a delightful Mexican meal (with veggie soup for today) brought over by three of my students -- Rachel Stubbs, Angel Wallace, and Katie Parker. And Jodie is coming to visit shortly. April just called to check in. I have beautiful, glorious flowers to look at, and the mail continues to bring cards and notes. And I have lots of friends emailing and posting to cheer me. My brother in law Ron mailed me a classic cookbook and a Bette Hagman GF book (yay!) which I've been reading while relaxing.

Today I even did a few chores. I did laundry and unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned the bathroom a little. Now I have to go put laundry in the dryer. Randy is taking a nap. He took Jeffrey to work at 8 for me and will probably escort him to the grocery store this afternoon.

I hope to be back in a couple of days with a recipe for something likely involving fruit.

Much love, and healing
Ging

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Recipe For Life! (To Thank You All)

I've been mortally scared three times in my life. The first time was the period before Jeffrey was born, when I was in the hospital for seven weeks and his health (and life) were uncertain. The second time was when my Mama got sick and eventually died from complications from open heart surgery.

And the third time occurred over the past three weeks.

I've always been terrified of cancer. I'm so thankful I don't have cancer.

I learned something these past few weeks, and it is a recipe I think belongs on this blog: it's My Recipe for Life.

Take one part pure emotion, from friends, students, and family from here to Washington State to New York to Tampa Bay to Spain to Belize and Wales and back again;
Add a generous dash of humor, from the Hamster Dance to Fierce Frog and Operation games and Witchy-Poo Hats and casting Satan out of my office for good measure (Shundra, you were right all along);
Sprinkle with heartfelt treats, like homemade GF pound cakes, ginger cookies, Coke Zeros, and Snickers Bars (as Snickers are naturally gluten free);
Brighten the flavor with cards and flowers and beautiful letters from dear, dear friends. Emails in the middle of the night. And Facebook notes. And phone calls burning up the wires!
Fold in the gathering of dear friends and my dearer family, flecked with an hour of Polka Joe and Oma and the Ooompahs;
Salt with a good cup of tears, a little displaced anger and some bitterness, because we all got scared in the middle there;
Pepper with cursings at cancer from those who sadly know all to well about it;
Toss generously with strong, fervent prayer, positive thoughts, and a knitted Linus blanket.
For good measure, add a miracle.

Serve in the beautiful silver bowl from the Peachtree Street Girls, while wearing a Braves Cap!

I can never, ever, thank you enough for all you've done for me this past few weeks. New friends. Old friends. ALL friends. You have given me the strength I needed to get through yesterday. And we did it together.

At this moment, pick the song of your choice and join me as I rejoice!

Much love. Really.

Ging

Monday, October 29, 2007

No cancer!

I'm home. I'm fine. There's no cancer.

More later.

Much love and THANKS for all your thoughts, prayers, poems, presents, and love!
Ging

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sour Cream Pound Cake (A Sunday Blessing)

OK, so it's Saturday. I'm a little preoccupied tomorrow.

One of the few foods I've been missing terribly since I went GF is pound cake. Sour Cream Pound Cake. That was one of my Mama's signature dishes, and I loved it. I can't make a pound case for spit, so I have been without. Tommie, our wonderful secretary, made me one last Christmas before I stopped eating gluten.

I miss a good pound cake. So versatile -- can be cake, can be frosted, can become strawberry short cake.

My favorite part of the cake is the crusty crumb outside of it. It has to flake into crunchy bits. I thought long and hard about how to make that happen with a GF flour mix, and finally found a blend -- Carol Fenster's, I believe -- to use for it. I surmised (and I was right) that a combination of sorgham flour and corn starch would do the trick.

A few weeks ago, i asked (ok, begged) my student Rachel Stubbs to ask her mother to make me a Sour Cream Pound Cake. I told her I'd provide the flour mix for it, and all she had to do is make the cake.

Last Tusday, Rachel bought me the cake, and it was the crunchiest, most beautiful pound cake I've ever seen. True, the color is a little different because of the GF flour mix. But except for being a little bit denser than my Mama's cake, it was perfect.

When Rachel gave me the recipe -- it turned out the be the same recipe I had in my recipe box. My Mama's cake, from her Mam's kitchen, from her oven. Kharma Kale!

So without further ado, here it is.

GF Sour Cream Pound Cake By by Me and my Mama and Rachel Stubbs and her Mama (whose sister studied Home Ec with my Aunt)

Flour mix:
1 1/2 c. each sorgham flour and cornstarch
1 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. corn flour (not masa de harina)
(there will be a little mix left)

1 1/2 c. butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups flour mix
1 T. Xanthan gum
1 8 oz container Sour Cream
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. lemon extract and 1/4 t. almond extract (or you could add any flavors of your choice)

Cream butter and add sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well till fluffy.
Sift flour mix, salt baking soad and add xanthan gum. Add butter alternately to dry mixture with sour cream, ending with flour mixture. Then blend in extracts.

Bake in a greased and GF FLOUR MIX floured pan at 325 degrees for 90 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes, and then remove from pan and cool completely.


Much love and happy pound cake!
Ging


Surgery update: Surgery is Monday at around 8 a.m. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A day at Atlanta Motor Speedway

I am exhausted, and the last thing I needed to do this Friday before my surgery, was spend seven hours walking around Atlanta Motor Speedway's "Fan Fest."

But Jeffrey and I have a tradition: If I'm in town, and it's not raining, we head to AMS for the qualifying/happy hour day of the race. We've actually done this four times -- once with Susan -- and we always have such a good time. We play the games at the exhibits, we walk and look at collectibles, and we make fun of the Knuckle Dragging NASCAR Hell Fans.

See there are fans like us -- Jeffrey in his vintage Valvoline Pit Crew shirt (which 10 people asked where we got it) and Goodyear jacket and Jimmie Johnson hat (for me, because I don't wear NASCAR gear because I don't OWN any NASCAR gear). Nice people in regular clothes, a tshirt or hat (or both), a jacket here and there.

Then there is Knuckle Dragging NASCAR hell fans.

You know, like the couple dressed in matching Dale Jr. wear (from head to toe), smoking Marlboros, drinking Miller Lite in a Chevy koozie while hauling a wagon with a no. 8 flag flying off the back AND a bumper sticker that says "Jeff Gordon is Gay." Or the woman with boobies to her navel wearing a (braless) Tony Stewart Tank Top and cut off denim short shorts, chain smoking, popping gum and drinking a beer in a can while her daughter talked about how much she wished she could have sex with Kasey Kahne. LOUDLY talking. While chain smoking. And drinking.

But I am so tired. My poor back, which is already dreadfully tender, got worse as the day went on. I went to the Richard Petty House to get some Goody's, only to find it has aspirin in it, and I can't have any of that now that surgery is only 72 hours away. So I stumbled on, but we had a great Mom and Son time. It's amazing what amuses my son.

Here are some cute pictures from the day:


Jeffrey driving a simulator at the Pep Boys booth


My son WITH The Pep Boys. I was tempted. SOOOO tempted.


Jeffrey driving a giant CROCS shoe simulator. I was impressed. I bought Crocs at AMS.

Some of the fun/cool/things that happened:

1. I met a guy who works for a sports advertising/marketing firm in Atlanta who wants to talk to some of my students for internships. AND he works for Fathead. I won Jeffrey a Fathead Elliot Sadler poster for his house. Fair and square.

2. They had a great Crocs booth and display -- not only did I find a pair of size 8 Mary Jane Black Crocs (which I've wanted) BUT i got a whole of cool free Croc stuff because I'm a suck-up. Shoot, if I hadn't already paid for my operation, I could have had some cute as heck fleece lined Crocs. Maybe Santa... (AND Julie/Joy/Jenn/Rachel -- BABY CROCS galore in every size. CUTE!)

3. I managed to have a completely GF and nonCC meal! The Johnsonville Brats people had plain grilled brats, no where NEAR buns, so I had two (they gave me a deal). I also had at least a whole NASCAR burger patty that they were serving in a cup, no condiments, and no bread! Imagine.

4, Of course, we spent $16 on sodas (I forgot the cooler rule at AMS, i.e., only idiots don't bring coolers). At least we bought them from a church group inside the grandstand.

5. I met, for a brief second, that metrosexual NASCAR driver, Michael Waltrip. He was very frou-frou with his hair and all, but he smiled and gave me a high five. Couldn't get the phone out fast enough.

6. I got lots of good junk that will stuff Randy and Jeffrey's stockings this year. Cool stuff. Can't say what cuz Randy reads this blog :-)

7. Got stopped by the State Patrol and sweet talked my way into a warning. Carter is a speed racer. Thank GOODNESS Jeffrey started telling the trooper we were going to Hampton. THAT was one of Jeffrey's favorite parts. He loves it when we get stopped, even if almost never happens (thank GOD!)

8. Got at least 10 free bottles of bleach and 10 free packs of trash can liners from Dollar General. AND a T-shirt.

What can I say. I was tired and sore, and I'm hurting right now (hello Xanax?) But it was worth it to see my baby smile in the stands as the cars roared by. There's nothing like our special trip to AMS every year, and we are already planning for March.

Much love, and vrooom vroom.
Ging

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fake Spaghetti


Make your meatballs browner than these. They're a little underdone.

In my family, there are two kinds of spaghetti sauce - real sauce, the Grandma Redente model from Italy, and fake spaghetti. Fake spaghetti is what you make when you're lazy and you don't want people to know it. I remember when I was first married (the first time) I made an Italian Meal for my parents and inlaws (outlaws) together for dinner. Only my Mama knew for real that it was fake spaghetti.

I have a confession here -- my favorite fake spaghetti used to be from Shoney's. Now, of course, I wouldn't go there, but there was something about the meat sauce. But I don't make spaghetti with meat sauce unless someone requests it. I usually make my Fake Spaghetti.

OK, so in my family, when we want the taste of real sauce but not the work, here's how we do fake spaghetti: we make meatballs (and maybe cook some mild and hot Italian sausage), then add a jarred sauce to the drippings.

Yesterday I decided that I would need some fake spaghetti next week after surgery, so I decided to use the ground beef I had in the fridge to make meatballs. My recipe is very authentic (i.e. from my Aunt Jeannie, and from my Mom, whose parents were born in Italy). Point of contention: my uncle Sebby doesn't like onion in his meatballs. Neither does Randy. So we argue in on the Redente side on how to make the meatballs). We also argue about size. My Aunt Jeannie used to make them really big like a baseball; my Mama made them like a golf ball. I'm in the golf ball camp here.

And to eat them right -- eat the meatballs and sausage first with your salad, THEN eat a bowl of pasta with sauce.

So here is a recipe for real Italian meatballs that will make just about any jarred sauce taste great.

2 pounds 8 percent fat ground beef (these have just enough fat but not too much).
three eggs
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I use GF but you can use any kind -- even italian flavored)
four to five cloves of garlic finely minced (VERY FINELY MINCED)
1 small onion or two large shallots, very finely minced (optional - I use onions for me, shallots if Randy is eating them)
1 T. Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning (or italian seasoning of some kind)
1 T. Parsley, dried or freshly minced
2 t. garlic salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 c.parmesan cheese grated (I don't care if you use green can stuff).

Mix this up -- don't mix it too much, but it should hold together when you roll into balls. If it is a little loose, add more crumbs or cheese til it is stable.

This should make about 18 golf ball sized meatballs. (I always have to eat two or three). Brown a small amount of the meat in the hot oil to check the seasoning. Add more garlic salt or pepper if you think it needs it (but I don't think it will). Brown the meatballs in olive oil in a pan of your choice. If you're going to add sauce to the pan, make it a high-sided pan. When the meatballs are cooked almost through (about medium) drain off fat and return to pan. Add the sauce. Stir well and simmer. If you're making Italian Sausage too, just buy them, cut them into links, prick them with a fork, and cook them 2/3 of the way through in hot water in a frying pan. Drain well and add to sauce. If you skip this step, you can get a similar taste in your sauce with 1 t. dried fennel seeds.

You can also put the cooked meatballs in the Crockpot, add sauce, and simmer away all day while you do something else, like hike the Adirondacks.

This is a little more work than just browning the beef and adding sauce, but it is so, so worth it. I can make this up in about a half hour total. And it makes great leftovers for pizza toppings and sandwiches. Serve on the pasta type of your pleasure. My Dad prefers penne, I like thin GF spaghetti, and sometimes I just like it on bread with more cheese.

Much love, and I hope you enjoy half of a family secret recipe. Maybe someday we'll make some sauce.

Ging

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Let it rain (more than A Sunday Blessing)

I love music of all kinds, and I love to sing. Songs are often the "art imitates life" I refer to in conversation. I mean, if I can use a rap by Eminem in my Mass Media Law Class to explain the FCC....well. I love music for what it means.

I especially love old hymns and gospel music. I'm the epitome of "make a joyful noise," but I was in a church choir since I was a little kid, and have always loved singing hymns. In fact, the biggest thing I miss about attending church is being among the fellowship of a choir.

This morning, I can't get a couple of polar opposite songs out of my mind. One is an old hymn, the other classic rock. Go figure.

If you've ever been to a church revival, you know the first one -- Showers of Blessing. It comes from the verse “There shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Refrain:
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

I also keep thinking about a song by Eric Clapton, "Let it Rain." He wrote the song with Bonnie Bramlett, and it's a classic, too.

The rain is falling through the mist of sorrow that surrounded me.
The sun could never thaw away the the bliss that lays around me.

Let it rain, let it rain,
Let your love rain down on me.
Let it rain, let it rain,
Let it rain, rain, rain.

I am trying to be strong, and thanks to the showers of blessings I've received from my friends and loved ones this week, I am hanging in there. I am very grumpy and unusually needy right now, but I am hanging in there.. Your love and friendship is washing away the mist of my fear.

THANK YOU to all of you who have assured me of your love and support this week. From the blue ribbons showing up on Facebook sites to calls, cards, letters, Coke Zeros, flowers, and hugs galore, I am hanging in there.

We can make it one more week. Then we'll know. It's going to be a long week. But then we'll know.

Much love, and I can't thank you all enough.
Ging

P.S. Thank you Carrie (Ginger Lemon Girl) for my Shoo Fly Pie! I wish I could be sitting with you now, eating pie and talking about GF cooking.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A recipe! Southern GF Cornbread Dressing


stolen with love from Jeff Houck's Blog, The Stew

Today at the store, I caught an enormous sale on Butterball Fresh Turkey Breast, and that got me thinking about this recipe. I posted it a while back on the Celiac Listserv and never got it on here.

This is my family's recipe, adapted for GF. My Grandma Rudeseal from Alto, Georgia, taught my Connecticut Yankee Mama how to make this in about 1955, and Mama taught me in 1982 during a long-distance call from Germany, where my ex was stationed with the Army. No printed recipe for this exists in my family.

I have actually taught this recipe to others who don't know how to make dressing, so in a sense it's TNT -- the procedure is, at least. But this will be my first try with GF breads. I trust they will be fine. You need to know two things before you begin. 1. You have to know how dressing is supposed to taste (like Stovetop, only better). and 2. You have to know what thick oatmeal looks like.

If you don't have a cornbread recipe, my Southern GF Cornbread recipe is in my Recipes and Resources guide to the right. To make a smaller batch, halve everything -- just make sure it's 2 to 1 cornbread to table bread. And you non GF people -- use plain cornbread and plain bread, and drop the Xanthan gum. It's still a great recipe.
Makes: A LOT about 7-8 cups of dressing total, which will serve about 10 people with leftovers.

Ingredients:

For the crumbs:
4 cups of cornbread crumbs, made FROM A NON-SWEET CORNBREAD RECIPE If your favorite recipe calls for sugar, leave it out. (This is roughly two recipes of my cornbread, which I make in an iron skillet. It is very crusty, so I use mostly the innards. Crumble it up into crumbs but do not dry it. Can actually be made way ahead and frozen, just thaw before mixing.)

2 cups stale GF bread or rolls, torn into little pieces, but not toasted into crumbs or croutons. A not-too-sweet bread, again, is better. I am saving some Bob's Red Mill bread for Thanksgiving right now in my freezer.)

MIX these in a large bowl and let stand to continue to dry slightly. I often do this the day before, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and put in the oven (no heat) over night as a "storing place."

2. Aromatics
Saute the following in a large skillet until crisp tender.
2 large onions diced or 8 large shallots, chopped (I prefer onions, but my husband won't eat them, so I also use shallots with equal success).
1-2 cups celery, finely chopped (depends on how much you like celery).
(Optional, and not southern: One package mushrooms, sliced)
2 sticks melted margarine -- can use light margarine for this.

when cooked, add this Seasoning to the pan til warm and dissolved:

GENEROUS amount of Poultry Seasoning, at least 2 tablespooons
1 T. each Salt and Pepper (or to taste, see below)
2 T. Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb (again, optional: not southern, but good)
1 T. Onion Powder (not salt)

Dump the skillet contents on the cornbread and mix.
Add enough low sodium GF chicken stock or broth to make the dressing the consistency of thick mushy oatmeal. (If you have GIBLETS and like them and aren't using them for gravy, add them here). *Note: In my family, we always have homemade stock with chicken bits in it. Warm it up and add it in. There is nothing wrong with some chicken bits in the dressing.) ADD STOCK A CUP AT A TIME, mixing in between. You don't want cornbread soup, and depending on the crumbs, it might take more or less stock. Usually it takes me about 4 - 5 cups for this amount of dressing. (so have one of those aseptic quarts handy for starters, but I've added chicken boullion cubes in water in a pinch).

MIX Thoroughly: Taste it. Here is where I adjust seasonings -- very important to do now, because the last few add-ins will make it taste weird and are unhealthy. IF you like a sage-flavored dressing, add dried ground sage here to taste. I almost ALWAYS have to add more poultry seasoning here, but I don't like sage so I don't add that. If you DO like sage, add it in addition to the poultry seasoning.

NOW, when it tastes good to you, add:

Four eggs beaten (or the equivalent in egg replacer of any kin)
2 T. Baking Powder
1 T. Xanthan Gum (just to make it rise lighter)

to the bowl and stir. It should still be like mushy oatmal.

Pour into a greased baking pan. Top with slivers of sliced margarine.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. During baking, feel free to baste with your turkey drippings or a little more chicken broth or stock.

It will rise up slightly, and you know it is done when the crust on the top is golden brown and the casserole is firm. It holds well and reheats beautifully by just basting it with broth/stock. You could easily make it ahead, freeze and thaw it, then reheat.

Serves ME :-) with leftovers, and I often share with my guests.

Questions you might have:

Why no sugar? It's a southern thing. You can use cornbread with sugar, just don't taunt me about it :-)

Can I do all cornbread? It's not as good that way to me, but sure. I'd keep at least 1 cup bread pieces. But the cornbread is more porous and not as light when made into dressing by itself.

Can I add other veggies? Sure, shredded carrots are great in this and add moisture. A lot of people want corn in there, and that's fine. Just remember -- mushy oatmeal.

Can I leave out the onions all together? Sure, but it just won't taste right. If you add any more celery, you won't be able to taste anything else. If you prefer leeks or green onions, they'll work.

Can I leave out the salt? Sure, but it will need some light salt or something. Add it to taste if you want to instead as prescribed. And you don't have to use low sodium broth -- just DON'T ADD SALT til after you put that in there. Salt to taste.

Do I have to use that much margarine? Well, no, not really. You can cook the veggies in broth with a little margarine. But use a little for taste, even if it's light.

Can I use butter? Heck yeah. Or half and half. Just don't use oil. It will taste oily.

Can I stuff it in the turkey? Yes

Much love, and I might have to make some thing for next weekend. I'm hungry for it.

Ging