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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Half here, half there (Salad Days at the CSA)

I made the summer transition to Tampa over the weekend, and things are off to a rocky start, to be sure.

First, about 10 minutes before I was going to leave the house, a mondo storm hit (again) and the power went out. IN about 20 minutes, though, I realized my alarm system was run through the phone lines, so I set the alarm and left anyway. My neighbor confirmed the power was on again. I hope so. Otherwise, the freezer needed defrosting anyway.

Second, I could feel myself getting sick, and I am now deep in the throes of a horrible summer cold/bronchitis. Ick. I have to call the doctor in a bit to get some Levaquin. We are supposed to go out of town Thursday, and I hope I'll be well enough by then.

Third, I can't believe how much stuff I brought that I DIDN'T need, and how much stuff I forgot in Milly. For instance, I bought potato starch a few weeks ago so I could make up flour mix when I got here, and I left it AND my Xanthan gum in the other house. Now you GF bakers know, that stuff is expensive. I hate to spend $10 when I don't have to. And now's when I really want to cook things -- this is the GOOD kitchen, you know? All my stuff if here -- the stand mixer, the food processor, the convection oven? I also forgot my DCP (dedicated cornbread pan). And I forgot a box of pancake mix, too. We have a great GF waffle iron. So much for that... And GF pasta -- I have it out the you-know-what in Milly, but I had to buy a bag at the store for Memorial Day (which I ended up not using because our plans changed).

One thing I always love about being back in Tampa is that I have someone to cook for. Randy is a very appreciative husband, and he loves when I cook for him. Sunday. we went in search of provisions.

Our first stop was the final Sunday market for the Sweetwater Organic Farm, a local CSA. When I live here full time (some day...) I am going to subscribe and patronize this wonderful organic farm. As it were, I got some great organic eggplant, two beets, and some wonderful savoy cabbage. Now, mind you, Randy won't eat two of those things, but I WILL! I am planning to make a beet salad from the roasted beets (YUM) and stir fry the cabbage. Later, I'll roast the eggplant and add it to some spaghetti sauce I brought with me.

I really do support and embrace the idea of a CSA -- community sponsored agriculture -- in my food planning. First, the food is organic, and someone like me with so many food allergies, well, it's just in my best interest to eat as "clean" as I can. Second, and don't worry, honey, this doesn't apply to you, I promise, I am thinking about working beef, pork, and poultry out of my diet except occasionally. The reason is related to my visit to the GI doctor last week -- my stomach ailment I've written about before, gastroparesis, continues to get worse, and I'm finding it harder and harder to disgest meat. If I eat it, I have to eat really small portions. Fish is easier to digest for me, but I really don't like it that much. So we'll see.

I have been thinking, though, since my visit to Sweetwater Farm, what I'd make with this week's harvest? I've already told you what I'd do with the fresh beets and eggplant I procured. And the stir fry of cabbage, we've discussed here before.

But what exactly do you do with kholrabi, that beautiful bulb pictured above? Kale, lettuce, celery, all beautiful, all good, know how to cook those. But I think kohlrabi is one of those few veggies I've never tasted. If you have any thoughts, let me know.

Across the street from Sweetwater is my favorite butcher shop in Tampa, Cacciatore Bros. I love that place, a mixed Italian and Cuban market with a great meat counter. When I do buy beef in Tampa, I buy it here. It is locally produced, and it is fresh - not sealed in plastic and treated with CO2 and chemicals. But they also have a great deli, with fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh homemade Italian sausage, and great tins of fresh garlic. Yum.

One thing I acquired there were some black cherry tomatoes -- they are the centerpiece of one of my favorite salads:

Tomato Mozzarella Salad
Cut cherry/grape tomatoes on half, mix with tiny mozzarella balls, and shred in some fresh basil leaves. Season with 3 tablespoons of your favorite Italian dressing (I use one by Penzeys, the country French vinagrette, with fresh olive oil and vinegar).

And while I'm at it, if you've never tried fresh beet salad, you are missing out! I grew up with canned beets, and I hated them, but fresh roasted beets are sweet and crunchy, not mushy, with a beautiful musky taste. They're available in a lot of the country right now, fresh. Try some! Try this!

Fresh Beet Salad

Wash a pound or so of fresh beets minus the greens and place in a piece of aluminum foil. Salt and pepper, throw in a couple chunks of garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. Crumple foil over beets. Bake in an over for an hour at 400 degrees. When the beets have cooled (even overnight in the fridge) you can slip off the skins easily with a paring knife and paper towel.

Slice beets in a bowl. Add one small sliced Vidalia (or other lesser sweet) onion. Top with your favorite vinagrette *if you don't have Penzeys, I highly recommend the Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinagrette - it's organic and GF). Before serving, sprinkle the salad with a but of crumbled feta or plain old goat cheese. In the vinagrette, the beets and onions will keep for weeks BUT THEY WON'T LAST THAT LONG! YUM.

This afternoon, after Randy has his medical procedure (pray for him) I'm heading to my favorite local fruit stand. It's time for some vitamin C and some fresh PINEAPPLE.

Tonight, I'm trying a bison burger recipe. I'll report back! If I had that potato starch and xanthan gum, I'd make Kate's Lavash to go with....bummer....

Much love, and try those beets!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Picture this!

I tried to go through the trip pictures and pick my favorites. It was difficult, as I had a lot. Here are a couple from Lisbon and Paris:

Old man in a doorway in Lisbon.

An old Portuguese beggarwoman.

The most delicious Portuguese ham...

L'Arc de Triomph

By our hotel near the Moulin Rouge.

Go here to see our trip album!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gluten Free in Portugal, Spain and France

Oh what a journey. Oh what an adventure.

Oh, that the Euro didn't absolutely suck right now.

I need more sleep than I have had to compose a clear post on our trip, but I did want to mention a few things about our adventure to Europe. Consider this a preview.

1. People in Europe "get" GF in a way that Americans just simply don't. With one exception, in a week, in three countries where I didn't basically speak the language, I ate delicious, regional, gluten-free meals. At one restaurant in Lisbon, a saintly man named Miguel took individual care of me (in a crowd of 40 plus other diners) to make sure I didn't get sick. Only once did someone mistakenly serve me food with gluten, and I caught it at only half a bite.

Miguel and Alice Trindade, our gracious host in Lisbon, get their own post, but they both go down in the GF Hall of Kindness. They made my life blissfully sweet while I was in Portugal.

2. Airlines don't get GF meals, but trust me, U.S. Air will get it when I'm through with them. I promise. On the way out -- Quaker Rice Cakes with high fructose corn syrup. On the way back? A roll on the tray. When I asked if it was GF, the flight attendant LAUGHED at me and said, how do you think I'm supposed to know that?

3. Best discovery: baked good "Sin Glutin" in the cafeteria in the Madrid Airport. I had my own Madelines (Magdelenas). I took a picture.

4. Ham, be it Portuguese, Serrano, Iberico, or Parisian, is God's greatest food invention. Emeril is right. Pork Rules.

5. And while I'm at it, God done good with the Fois Gras, too.

6. There were a couple of downsides. Here they are: I spent NINE FREAKING HOURS in the Philadelphia airport on delay yesterday -- Randy was at home asleep before my plane to Atlanta even took off. That was way worse than the roughly four-hour delay on the way out of Philly for the gas leak. I'm not sure where the bad Karma was coming from -- US Air or Philly. Either one makes me believe that I won't fly US Air or go through Philly again, even. I don't CARE that the storm that caused the delay apparently dumped hail and rain and tornadoes on Milledgeville...I was in a city I detest, with a swollen and icky knee, with no paid meds and no ice. BLEAH.

AND ALL that paled in comparison to the fact that Monday afternoon I tripped off a sidewalk at La Madelaine (cathedral) in Paris and kissed the mighty cobblestones of the city of light. Thanks to my blessed husband (who tried to pick me up, but I screamed at him to block traffic instead) and an American angel and her friend who carried me literally to the curb, I luckily was not flattened by a cab or petite voiture de Paris. But I could barely walk today on my left knee (which is still icky). I broke my glasses as well as bruising my cheek, hand and arm. I'm a mess.

But I'm home. Muchas amore, beaucoup d'amore, and much love...and more later.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gluten Free Over the Pond

Tomorrow, we commence on our trip to Portugal and France. I actually don't fly out of Atlanta til Wednesday, but I will be at my Dad's tomorrow, getting Jeffrey settled.

Today, I spent some time organizing my food and GF Supplies for the trip. Never mind that I haven't THOUGHT about what I'm presenting at the conference, and I've not considered what I'm wearing while I'm there (I don't even know what the temperature is!)

But I won't go hungry, that is for sure.

I am bringing a rolling backpack as my carry on (with food, pills, my camera, iPod, purse, books, etc) and a suitcase with more food in it for the trip. US Air has a two bag minimum -- one for the plane, one for checking. I don't know if this includes purses, but I'm not much for them on trips anyway. I carry a string bag I can put inside my shirt/pocket.

In the rolling bag, for the plant:
Yogurt raisins
Two dark chocolate bars (one for Randy)
A Dinty Moore Beef Stew *have to check the ounces)
A 3-oz peanut butter cup
A bag of pretzels
A Kind bar or two

This is a lot, I know, but I get bored easily on planes, so why not eat? I hope to grab a couple of Martha Stewart mags from Mary to read. But mostly, I plan to take a Tylenol PM around 9:30 and sleep for six hours. My sis Janet always said her recipe was a Percogesic and a glass of wine. Same thing.

For the whole trip, I'm bringing more of the same:
Kind and Lara Bars
More pretzels and some crackers, too
Zip Lock bags
Crystal Light stir-ins and some Sweet and Low
More peanut butter cups
More Dinty Moore
Some Chicken Vienna Sausages

I know I will be able to find yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, and fresh veggies in Portugal and France.

I also have packed a stack of Dining Cards in Portuguese that say, "Don't feed me wheat or I'll throw up on you." I also have cards in French. Pas de Pain...Pas de Pao. No both languages.

I'm a little apprehensive about all of this, to be sure, but it will be OK.

Well, this is it: Wish me luck! If you think of anything I've forgotten, email me, ok?

Much love, and I'll see you with pictures when I get back late next week!
Au Revoir! A bientot. I am an American tourist -- do not hurt me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day (A Sunday Blessing)

Jeffrey plays the drums in a show group at The Baldwin Service Center. One of my former students, Kari Brown, sent this to me a couple of weeks ago after their concert at Central State Hospital.

I am proud of my little drummer man. I am a proud Mom.

Much love, and Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008


(Sorry, another post not about gluten free cooking. But it has a purpose.)

Today is May 9th. Twenty-eight years ago today, at high noon, I got married for the first time. I was a optimistic, wide-eyed idealist. We were happy, and we thought it would last forever. My parents -- not so much. But we had a sweet and simple wedding on the back patio of my parents' house in Atlanta, attended by 15 friends (and not attended by a lot of people I really meant to invite).

In those 28 years, we went through a lot, including the birth of Jeffrey and all the challenges that brought.. I have to give my ex credit for one thing -- he loved Jeffrey from conception and did the best he could to be a good Dad to him. Now -- well, he has other priorities and a "new" family. It's bittersweet.

I know that my wedding almost three years ago to Randy was nothing like that first one, and I'm glad. I made sure of that! When you marry the love of your life, it should be a spectacular day. I am happier now than I ever thought I would be, even with challenges with Jeffrey and my distance from Randy. It was just plain sweet.

Eleven years ago today was another bittersweet day. My Daddy, my ex, Jeffrey and I were gathered at Piedmont Hospital with my Aunt Jeannie and my cousins Pauline and Josie, who'd flown in from Connecticut. My mother was in a coma, dying of complications from heart bypass surgery she'd had just over two weeks earlier. We were discussing that it was our anniversary when the nurses paged us -- Mama had taken a turn for the worse. I remember saying to my Daddy, "she won't die on my anniversary, because she knows I'd never be able to celebrate it again if she did."

Instead, she held out til Sunday, May 11th -- Mother's Day. At 12:20 p.m., my Daddy, my ex and I did what was the hardest thing I've ever had to do -- we watched as the doctor who had just reconstructed her failing heart disconnected her life support. As he watched, he had tears running down his cheeks. I'll never forget the nurse saying gently..."OK, the machine is disconnected"......she paused and quietly added, "and now she's in heaven." It was only a couple of seconds. My mother died at 12:20 p.m. on Mother's Day. It was the single saddest moment of my life.

I have never been able to celebrate that day again.

Oh, Randy is sweet and gets stuff for me, but Jeffrey's Dad -- the one who should really do this -- doesn't see to it that I get anything for Mother's Day from Jeffrey. I usually get a card he makes at the center, which is enough. I want the acknowledgement that it's Mother's Day, but I just can't get excited. It's bittersweet.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate the graduation of many much-loved students and advisees. My friends Greg and Rosemary will be here tonight, and tomorrow they'll watch their younger daughter graduate, too. I love commencement, but it's bittersweet.

I hope you won't mind that I won't be blogging Sunday about the blessings of mothers...I just can't do it. I hope all you beautiful mothers (and sons with wives and mothers) have a beautiful day. I am thinking about my friend Julie who is awaiting baby no. 2, and about Jenn who has just had her first. I think about my buddy Karen and her little girl. And I am thinking about Kate and her love, who want a baby more than anything (and will have one in time, I know!) I am thinking about Cassandra who just found out she is having a little girl. And I'm thinking about Joy, who is moving into her first house this weekend....all good mothers, all of them. I know i have other friends and readers I've left out -- Stevie, I know you're a great son. And Melanie, you're the greatest Mom to the little Gluti and your son. And Alex...sweet friend. I think I remember your mentioning a child...but you're an Earth Mother in the finest care for our whole world. Much love and a happy day to all of you.

I know my Randy and I will both be bittersweet on Sunday. See, he lost his mother not long after we started dating in 2003, in a similar sad scenario. He was a good son who loved his mother. Ron, his brother. took care of his mother every day til she passed. And Reagan and Christne were there too, til the end. They will all be missing Jeanne Miller on Sunday, just as I ache for mine. I wish I'd known her -- I hope she'd approve of me. I know she was proud of her oldest son. At our wedding, we had a tribute to both of our mothers, who would have loved that day. We lit a candle and had photos there in their honor. Scott even mentioned it in the service -- that was bittersweet.

I leave you with the last picture taken of my mother and me. Jeffrey was just 14 in the picture -- a baby, compared to today. It was at my graduation from USM in December 1996. That night, after the ceremony, as we went to the restroom, she asked me, solemnly, "So now, you're a doctor?" I replied that yes, finally, I was. "Good," she said. "Now I can die."

Five months later she did.

Much love,


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Gluten Free Rachel Ray? Maybe....

Tonight, I made a 30-minute meal that was elegant, delicious, and fast. Clean up was easy, and of course, it was gluten free!

I thought I'd share it with you. Sure, it's not rocket science. But we know that, don't we Rachy? Besides, sometimes you need a whole meal plan. You could serve this to the nicest company, or just make it for your family. It's that delicious and special.


Pan-smashed creamer potatoes
Garlicky microwave green beans with sherry vinegar
Pan-roasted Rib Eye steaks

Ingredients you'll need (I cooked for three of us):

Ribeye steaks, six ounces at least per person (I made two large and had ample leftovers.)
One bag of fresh trimmed green beans (I buy the ready ones at Kroger). One bag will feed two people.
10-12 small red potatoes (Called creamers) washed well. If you have larger potatoes, cut them in half. This feeds at least two.
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning (or fresh garlic and chopped tarragon -- but I love Mrs. Dash)

Tony Chachere's Seasoning (or your steak seasoning of choice)

Olive Oil
Sherry Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Margarine/Butter of Choice

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Put a cast-iron skillet or grill pan in the oven to heat thoroughly.

1. Put potatoes in salted water and bring to a boil - cover your pan and continue to boil.

2. Put the rinsed green beans in a Corningware pan. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and Mrs. Dash (or chopped fresh tarragon and Mrs. Dash). Put in Microwave for 8 minutes, covered.

3. Season the steaks to your liking, adding a drizzle of olive oil on the top of your seasoning. Put the steaks in the hot pan and season the other side of the steaks. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and cook for 10 minutes. WATCH THE TIME -- it's important. At 10 minutes, turn the steaks over using a spatula or tongs (not a fork) and turn off the oven. Let steaks continue to cook 5 more minutes for medium rare steaks. Longer for well done, OK? Take pan out of the oven and let it set while you finish the meal.

4. While the steaks cook, take beans out of microwave and top with 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar. Toss. Cover again and let sit. They will be crispy and tender, but not mushy.

5. Test potatoes -- they should be done by now. Drain water and smash them with potato masher or large fork. Add two tablespoons of margarine/butter and dust with pepper.

6. Plate the food. The steaks will have a really great juice -- serve that on the steaks, or on the potatoes -- or both!

Clean up is quick, too!

Much love, and pass the green beans, ok?


Friday, May 2, 2008

For the kids - Beefaroni

When I was growing up (who am I kidding, until last year when I went GF) I loved Chef-Boy-r-Dee Beefaroni. I know, it's heresy for an Italian to admit that. But I did. That stuff is unhealthy and fat filled. But I loved it.

Today, I discovered another use for Tinkyada Elbow Macaroni -- you can add it straight to hot spaghetti sauce (without pre-cooking the pasta) and in a few minutes -- Beefaroni!

Jeffrey ate two bowls, and I didn't do so badly myself.

Here's the secret: While your spaghetti sauce is still simmering (small bubbles on the sides of the pan) add two cups of UNCOOKED Tinkyada elbows or fusili. Stir carefully to coat all the pasta, cover it tightly, and turn the sauce to low.

In a matter of 20 minutes, you will have perfectly cooked pasta in your sauce.

Now, here's the real secret of the faux beefaroni....I did this IN MY CROCKPOT.

This morning, I put on a pot of my Lazy Spaghetti Sauce -- since I use only the four percent lean Laura's Organic Beef, it cooks in the Crockpot without needing to be drained. I added onions, mushrooms, the raw beef, a container of pesto sauce, and a jar of non-HFCS spaghetti sauce and set it all to simmer high. I turned it down to simmer low after four hours, and it was quite loose and soupy.

At 4 p.m., when I left to get Jeffrey, I added two cups of Tinkyada elbows, and stirred. By the time we got home at about 5 p.m., it was beautifully cooked.

You non-GF folks, you don't have the benefit of doing this, but it's almost worth buying some Tinkyada to try it. Seriously healthy beefaroni -- no additives, no HFCS, low fat. All it needed was a sprinkle of low-fat cheese.

I know you GF folks know how versatile Tinkyada is, but this is crazy easy. No browning. No boiling. Just stir it. Yay!

Much love, and try it. You'll like it. I mean it.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

When words fail me (A tribute)

(Photo credit: The Student Printz/Media Credit: Sebe Dale IV
This is not a post about gluten-free anything, but it is one I need to write.

On Tuesday, my doctoral dissertation adviser and mentor, Dr. Arthur J. Kaul, professor of journalism and mass communication at The University of Southern Mississippi, died of cancer at his home in Hattiesburg.

Art directed my dissertation, "View from the Bird Watch: Media, Memory, and America's Mercury Astronauts." He taught me ethics and journalism history. He made me embrace research and scholarship again. He was a dear, dear man, and a dear, dear friend.

I am still reeling from the news. I spent most of Wednesday in a puddle of tears, and even now, as I try to type this, I do it with a heavy heart. In fact, I couldn't bring myself to write this blog post until I saw his obituary in print. I just couldn't believe it was true.

I spent three years in the company of this wonderful man, laughing, crying, occasionally arguing, even once in a while drinking, but mostly learning. His profound impact on me as a professor is in my every class: in law and ethics, where I remind my students, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." In feature writing, where I recommend Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, Gay Talese. or Bob Greene. And in general, when I remind student to "Subvert the Dominant Paradigm." That was the bumper sticker for years on his pick-up truck.

I hope his wife Nancy won't mind my telling you this: I loved Art Kaul. Very, very much.

Last time I saw him was about a year ago, in Hattiesburg, at a friend's graduation party. I brought him some literary journalism books he'd inspired me to collect. He's had a horrible fire at his house, and a lot of his collection was destroyed. I'd pushed some of my collection aside for him, and it took me two years to get it there, but I delivered it in person.

My visit with him was short and sweet, but I got to hug his neck and tell him how much he meant to me. Art being Art, he just smiled and didn't say anything, but Nancy said, "Oh, he knows. And he feels the same way."

We talked for about an hour in January, when I was struggling with our Ralph Ginzburg paper. It was like old times, him quizzing me on the properties of literary journalism, me trying to mold and shape something that just didn't quite fit. By the end of the call, I had it, and when the paper was finished, we added a "fond footnote" to Art for his suggestions.

When Randy and I present it in Lisbon in two weeks, we will dedicate the work to his memory.

Here is my favorite Art Kaul story, and it involves my first class with him at USM. One of my classmates, Laura Berthelot, wrote a research essay on Hunter S. Thompson, with a bibliography of work on the author. She managed to leave out one of Art's critically acclaimed Hunter S. Thompson essays (he was considered one of the contemporary scholars of note on the late Gonzo journalist). At the bottom of the page, he wrote, "In Hubris," and cited his last articles. Laura whispered to me, "What does that mean?" "it means," I whispered back, "you fucked up."

That, though, was Art. In Hubris. He was a humble man. I think he'd be embarrassed by this post. He'd be embarrassed that across the U.S., his many friends and former students are mourning his passing by telling Art Kaul stories.

Students always kid me about having so many pictures of my former students in my office. Some in frames, some on the file cabinet, but I am a sentimental old fool when it comes to those pictures.

Today, I have but one picture of Art and me -- it's at my Dad's house in a frame. It is the picture of Art hooding me at graduation in December of 1996. I wish I had a couple more, from the times we went out after ethics or literary journalism class, from my graduation party, from times we just got together to visit.

There are two lessons from today's post, for me, and for you. One, don't ever let the chance to tell someone THANK YOU or I LOVE YOU pass you by. Two, if there's someone out there who has made a profound impact on your life, make sure he or she knows it.

I didn't tell Art Kaul how much he meant to me nearly enough in the 15 years I knew him. He helped make me the teacher and scholar I am today, and I can only hope I pass it on as gracefully and forcefully as he passed it on to me.

On Monday at 11 a.m. (10 a.m. Hattiesburg Time), there will be a celebration of Art's life in Hattiesburg. Because of finals, I can't be there, but my heart will be on the front row, remembering this great, great man and teacher.

Thanks, Art, even though I didn't say it nearly enough. And much, much love.