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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Welcome Baby Trent!

This morning, Julie Harrell Boucek, former editor of The Colonnade at my university, gave birth to a future lineback for the University of Georgia (ok, maybe University of Virginia or Navy), Trent Goolsby Boucek.

Isn't he beautiful? He weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and will be gluten free for at least six or seven months (ok, I'm kidding, but seriously...he will.)

Mother, Baby. Daddy and Big Sister (and Gran C and Big Daddy) are all doing well.

And I'm one proud adopted granny (Aggie Carter, that's me! Julie is the one who nicknamed me Carter back in 1998).

I'm going to be on the gluten-free road for a few days. Back with reports from Gluten-Free Vegas!

Much love, happy labor day, and WELCOME LT!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

That was the week that was... (A Sunday Blessing)

All in all, I had a remarkable back-to-school week. Although Fay has been squalling to the south of here (and has been pouring rain on us since yesterday afternoon) we've escaped with no harm so far. Randy even escaped the worst of it, though rain yesterday did cancel his back-to-school golf game.

Last Saturday night, out of the blue, I got an email from an old undergrad newspaper friend. I hadn't heard from him in at least 10 years, and now it seems his daughter is considering my university next year. I was thrilled to be in touch with him and his wife (who was also a college friend). I hope they'll visit us soon.

On Sunday, while working on a project for my PR & Admin class, I created a LinkedIn account (I'm trying to learn about social media. My friend Karen is my idol...she's amazing. I want to be her should I figure this out one day...) While looking for connections, I found another undergrad friend, whom I hadn't heard from for 10 years. She and I been great friends for a very, very long time, and I'd truly missed her a lot. Well, by Wednesday, we were back in touch by email, and we just talked on the phone for the first time in years. Turns out she's only three hours away in Savannah, again. Last I saw her, she was in Michigan! If you are on linked in, connect to me! I'm already hooked up with my buds Gluten-Free Steve (who wrote me the greatest recommendation! LOVE you!) and Kate! I also on Twitter, which I can't for the life of me figure out, but anyway...if you are, I am too. GingerCM. Tweet me, y'all

And one more friend came back into my life this week. She's only a half-hour away from here, in Macon, but we'd lost touch and hadn't been in email touch since 2003. We're back in email touch again. I hope to see her soon.

I was also reunited this week with my dear students as classes started again. It has been a horribly stressful week. I have created a lot of new assignments for the student groups and classes I teach, and there will be a lot to do in the next two months. One of my classes is required now to keep a blog. That site is called Bobcat PR, and you're welcome to see it any time you'd like.

With all this schoolwork (I even had to work most of the day, much to Jeffrey's dismay) I haven't had much time to cook or create gluten-free goodies for myself. Since Randy went home last weekend, I've fallen back into my old habits of cereal for dinner, etc. Tonight, I'm going to make a pan-roasted Porterhouse steak that was on the markdown rack at Kroger. Tomorrow, I'm going to make Kate's Banana Bread.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to replicate one of my mother's recipes -- a pork-chop casserole with onions and potatoes.

Here's the recipe, if you'd like to try it, too:

Pork Chop Casserole

One package of lean pork chops (one pound). I have sirloin chops
seasoned with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, salt and pepper
Two baking potatoes, sliced thin
One large onion, sliced thin
One can cream of mushroom soup (GF for me) with 1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt

Alternate layers of potatoes and onions in a casserole dish. Top with pork chops. Top with soup mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

OR put it in the crock pot and cook on high for six hour. Can't decide which way I'll go.

OH, BTW, shoutout to Randy, who lost 18 pounds! YAY for my honey.
And y'all keep my former student Julie in your prayers as she goes in for a c-section in five days to have her son, Trent.

Much love, and so much more...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

So long to summer...

(Start humming the theme from "Welcome Back, Kotter." But don't call me Dr. CAA-tear. Only Brian Grooms can get away with that.)

Yes, friends, for me and my Randy, for my BGFF Kate, for a lot of others of you out there, it's that time of year again...the students are on their way back. We start classes Wednesday and have been back since last Thursday. Randy headed south (just in time for the hurricane, no less) Saturday, leaving me for his fall semester start next week.

Fall semester's here. Let the Week of Welcome BEGIN!

Yeah, right. Whatever.

While I am excited about all the work I did this summer to prepare for my fall classes, and I thrilled about those classes in general, I seriously needed a little more summer. What I needed, I realize now, was a week alone in my own house, with time to clean the closets and the toilets. You know what I mean?

Fall semester finds both Randy and me rededicated to our respective diets. In spite of my popcorn and GF cupcakes this summer, I did manage to lose 14 pounds since we got back from Portugal in May. I seriously hope to lose 15 more pounds by Thanksgiving. Then I'll have 20 more to go. Or something like that.

I wish you could tell. My buddy/colleague at work, Angela, told me she could tell, but frankly, the bloating from the gastroparesis (unrelated to CD/GF) has me constantly looking like I'm six months preggo (I'm not). And when I've had GF baked goods (like the melba toast I had this weekend, or the GF pizza I was served for lunch) it can get pretty bad.

I also find I'm getting glutened-like symptoms a lot lately. Of course, the fact that I ate half a flour tortilla (a small one) thinking and not noticing it was the corn tortilla I ordered, well, that was DREADFUL. I was sick for two days.

No, for me, it's time to start packing my lunch again. Kind bars and hummus, here i come.

My sweet Randy...honey, I know you're reading out on a super mega diet, and he seriously KICKS MY GF BUTT when it comes to willpower. With his permission on Thursday, I'll tell you how much he's lost, but he is doing GREAT. I better catch up, or he's going to trade me in for two skinny 25 and a half year olds...

But I digress. BTW, I was sad Estelle Getty died this summer. And George Carlin. My law class will never be the same...

Now that fall is here, one of the things I have in the yard are fresh pears. These are what we call in Georgia hard pears, but they're delicious. You just have to peel them to eat them. When I checked the tree last week, the deer and other critters had cleaned off the bottom branches which had maybe four dozen pears on them. I reached up high and picked three last week, and they were feeling pretty ripe. I hope to pick a dozen this weekend and make some low-sugar pear preserves. It's one of my favorite thing. I WILL report back.

I wanted to share with you a little salad I whipped up for dinner tonight. It was delicious.

Fresh Pear Salad

Two ripe but FIRM pears, peeled, cored, and chopped.
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I get these at Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup Stilton or GF Blue Cheese (or GF Feta or Goat Cheese) ( had a little tiny piece of Stilton
2 T. mayo, mixed with 1 T. Splenda and 1 T. apple cider vinegar (dressing)
1 handful raisins or dried Crasins.

Chop pears in bite-sized pieces. Add nuts and cheese. Top with dressing. Mix thoroughly.
Serves ME!

Much love, and OH! I got some new shoes for school. YAY me!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A perfect summer recipe - Pulled pork and coleslaw

I've been cooking a lot lately, since Randy is on a mega-diet and I'm the supportive wife :-) except when I'm eating cupcakes and popcorn in Chicago. Mostly it has been ultra simple grilled chicken and fish, a basic roast, things I've already posted here.

Since today was my first day of school (grrrrrr he has another week and a day) I decided to make something spicy and delicious in the Crock Pot. Of course, this was just before I discovered that Jeffrey left the freezer door open outside on Monday, thus defrosting my ancient freezer (and ruining a ton of food). Double grrrr....I was gonna have a GOOD day, I could tell.

Anyway, I thought I'd try pulled pork. Except, I had no idea how to do it that would work for the diet.

Funny thing, it was as good as any pulled pork I've ever had. And topped with our creamy crunchy cole slaw, it was a winner.

So here's the recipe...

Pulled pork

1 2-3 pound pork roast, lean (I used one by Smithfield with Paula's Deen face on it...) I suppose you could use loin, or tenderloins, but I used a boneless roast I got in a cryo-pack at Wally World...
1/2 cup organic ketchup (tomato sauce would also work) It is less sweet than regular because it has no HFCS.
1/4 cup GF worcestershire sauce
1 T. Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning (can't live without it)
1 t. Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning (GF)

Put roast in Crock Pot and season - add ketchup and worcestershire. Roll roast in sauce. Cover and cook on simmer hi for 6-9 hours until pork is fork tender and can be pulled apart. NOTE: You have to watch it toward the end, since all the seasoning will cook out (as will the fat) and caramelize in the bottom of the Crock Pot.

Shred pork. Add 2 T. of sherry vinegar and 2 T. hot sauce of choice (or to taste if you don't like spicy).

Spicy crunchy cole slaw

1 bag angel hair cole slaw mix (thanks, Angela...)
1 small bunch of green onions, chopped (I used Penzeys freeze dried shallots, but if Randy weren't here, I'd use the green onions).
1/2 cup dill pickle juice (straight from the jar...or cider vinegar and 1/2 t, dried dill)
Generous sprinkle (2 t.) of shallot or garlic salt (oooh Steve, I used that shallot salt. TDF...)
1/2 cup sugar free pickle cubes (or relish, if you have no sugar issues like we do)
2 T. mayo (I use Duke's) You can use light or fat free, but I don't...they contain HFCS.
Several generous grind of pepper (I actually used Penzeys Florida Pepper)

In a big bowl, put the cole slaw mix and onion together and season with salt. Let sit for a few minutes, then add the pickles and stir. Add the pickle juice, then add the mayo last. Stir well. It has a nice sweet/sour flavor. If there's any left when Randy leave, I'm adding back the onions.........

Much love, and Chow, y'all...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chicago, Chicago...that Gluten-Free Town!

We're back from our conference in Chicago and I have to say, I am impressed with the gluten-free consciousness of The Windy City. It seems like everywhere we dined, there was a gluten-free menu, or a chef willing to make gluten-free food for me.

The highlight of my trip had to be my cupcake expedition with my dear friend Jessica. She'd been interviewing non-stop for the entire conference, so on Friday, we caught a cab to Lincoln Park to get a gluten-free cupcake at Swirlz.

Their motto is "cupcakes make people happy," and let me tell you, they DID! They made both of us happy. It was worth the $25 cab ride (my only Chicago extravagance, I might add) to buy the beautiful cupcakes. I learned about Swirlz from Gluten-Free Steve, and since I heard about this place, I knew i had to go there. It was beautiful! Lovely Linda, our server, said the owner has Celiac Disease, and for that reason, the shop serves GF cupcakes. What a service. (I wish they shipped. I would order from there all the time. At least three people came in while we were there asking if they shipped cupcakes, but they don't.)

Here are a few pics of the beautiful cupcake I ate first....I'm a southern girl, and you know red velvet is a fave...

Digging in...I bought FIVE cupcakes and ate them for three days! I also got chocolate on chocolate, and chocolate on vanilla.

Jess peruses her choices...she had banana nutella...and malted milk ball.

Someone on the Delphi Celiac listserv suggested a Greek place called Venus, and on Wednesday, Randy and I took Jess there to celebrate the end of her doctoral comps. Our friend Susan Lewis came along too, and we had a lovely time. Venus has a wonderful gluten-free dinner, and I asked the owner, Costa, why they were so dedicated to GF meals. He introduced me to Amy and Anna, two of his best customers -- and Amy is Gluten Free. They were just lovely women! But it was especially lovely that Costa would plan an entire menu because of a dedicated customer. What a great place!

I had a delicious stuffed eggplant. Randy had fish. Susan had lamb. And Jess had Spanikopita. Lovely!

I would also like to mention a couple of places that were incredibly gluten friendly. The first was an Italian restaurant called Volare, where the chef regularly replaces breaded items with grilled items for those who are gluten intolerant. I had a brilliant grilled eggplant parmesan with my friend Karen (shoutout to the new editor of Public Relations Research Journal!) and didn't even have to explain it to our server. We had a great meal and a great time talking about old times.

And Friday for lunch, we went to celebrity chef land -- Topolobampo, Rick Bayless's fine dining establishment on Clark Street. Our server, Jessica, was incredibly knowledgeable of gluten-free needs, and she even called the pastry chef to ask about the ingredients in desserts for me. It was brilliant. The food was amazing, the ambiance was perfect. We loved it. If you're gluten-free, this is a great place to dine. There were only two items on the entire menu that day that were not gluten-free. The chips were fried in a non-dedicated fryer, but they still brought me my own little bowl of delicious guacamole. We also shared a ceviche that was just incredible...try it. It is more than worth it. Oh yes, I had a celebrity sighting. I saw Rick Bayless. I am happy.

I can't leave my trip story without mentioning one more GF place we visited -- Garrett's Popcorn.. According to someone on the Delphi listserv, all their ingredients are gluten free, and their caramel was a seriously OMG moment. People at Garrett's follow Oprah's lead, though, and order "the mix," a mixture of caramel corn and cheddar cheese popcorn. I enjoyed it very fact, between popcorn and cupcakes, I didn't eat anything healthy for days...

It was especially nice to visit with Jim Mallison and Dana Leckie, my "step" brother and sister-in-law. They live in Chicago, and visiting with them (and munching caramel corn) was the icing on the cake.

There's lots to do in Chicago, and there's plenty of GF food there, too. I can't wait to go back in May.

Much love, and I wish I had another cupcake!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A year of Gluten-free Blogging (An almost-Sunday blessing!)

A year ago today, I wrote my first post for "Gluten-free in Georgia and Florida." I was still in Tampa for the summer, and I had been collecting my thoughts for weeks for that first post.

A lot about my gluten-freedom has changed in the last year. For one, I think I truly understand what it means to be gluten free now, and I'm much more careful and cautious than I was a year ago. A year ago, I was still learning my way with ingredients and recipes. I hadn't made a loaf of bread -- only corn bread and a pan of brownies. I hadn't written or tried all those wonderful recipes I've listed on the right side here. And I still haven't intentionally ingested a speck of gluten.

I hadn't found out I was lactose intolerant, either. Hadn't given up high fructose corn syrup. Hadn't given up corn products in general. And then there has been my discovery of locally grown has been a year of fun and exploration, to be sure.

In the past year, I've joined up with the Delphi Forums Celiac Disease group, and I've become the public relations person for the Middle Georgia Gluten Intolerance Group. That has really enriched my life and my knowledge of the gluten-free world. I am happy to have so many good friends in those groups, even if some of them are cyber friends.

But best of all, I've made lots of gluten-free friends. If I start listing all of you, I'll leave someone out, and that will make me sad. I did get to meet Melanie of The Gluti Girls, and I almost got to meet Cassandra of Delightfully Gluten Free. Maybe I'll meet more of you next year!

I do have to mention my adopted family members, though -- Steve and Kate. They are more than just "blogger buddies" to me. XOXO to both of you for all the love and support you've sent me this year.

So, 172 posts later, I begin year two. Where do we go from here?

Well, the first thing I'm going to do is take some time off. I am going to be away at a conference (and without a computer) for a little more than a week, and I won't have the computer access I need to post a blog. But when I get back, I'll send a report on GF Food in Chicago, and maybe some new recipes.

Until then, thanks for staying with me for this first year.

Much love, and 'The best is yet to be!"