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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The times, they are a changin'...And a contest to rename my blog!

Bob Dylan had it right.  The times, they are a changin!

Yes, there's a big announcement here on Gluten Free in Georgia (and Florida).  The first is -- I need to rename my blog!  Because I will no longer be a temporary resident of the city of Tampa, Florida, after July 31.  I will be Gluten Free in Georgia. Period. 

Now. Count with me -- 1-2-3! 

If you can count to 1-2-3, then realize that 1-2-3 is the number of days I have to count until my Sweet Randy moves to Georgia! For good!

It's been a tough month for us, but on March 15, Randy put in paperwork for an Early Retirement Incentive Program that USF offered its employees who fit the qualifications.  He has been at USF for 21 years -- his entire academic career -- but he decided that it's time to move on. With this incentive, he can pretty much do whatever he wants to when he's here in our house in Georgia.  The Georgia Estate....oh how I love that sound.

It was up and down. Seriously.  Waiting was dreadful and pain inducing. We thought he got it. We heard two others were in it. We heard he was second then third in line.  He was asked to defer. The deferral was denied.  I left Spring break in Tampa demoralized and scared.

And then today, in a short, impersonal email, Randy learned he got the buyout, and he officially retires on July 31, 2009.

That's 123 days. Four months from tomorrow. 

And considering that we started officially dating around July 31, 2003 (post divorce if you're doing the math) we'll have endured seven FULL AND HAPPY years of long-distance relationship.  That's 820 miles every trip. Round trip. 

We won't miss the commute or the cash it cost us every time. We've estimated that each trip cost at least $250, between gas and spending money. We made at least one trip every three weeks, with only three stretches that went more than three weeks. (and occaisionlly, we went two weeks). We got married in the middle. We've swapped houses for Christmas and Thanksgiving, missed each other's birthdays, and spent our anniversary apart.

And suddenly: No more. I'm sure there's a learning curve, but we're up for the challenge.  Randy has some tips on adjunct and contract employment.  And I think he really needs to write a book about growing up in Dallas. He really does.

I know you, my true friends, will be celebrating with me as I make this change in my life in 123 days.  We will celebrate with a long vacation in Denver, where we'll enjoy the company of my dear brother from another mother GF Steve and his spouse, The Artist.  Where I'll finally meet my sister from another mister, GF Dee.  And where I'll visit the mothership for Udi's Gluten Free, where I have so many friends like Heather Collins.... 

The next 123 days will be interesting. 

NOW, what do I rename this blog?  The initials are GFINGF.  I've always said that also means Gluten F&$@ING Free  (GF-ingFree). But really.  I'd love your ideas.

The person who comes up with the best name for my blog will receive a copy of a gluten-free cookbook from my collection -- you'll have several choices.

One thing won't change.  I'll still be here...with much love, and a gluten-free purpose.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

If I had a gluten-free menu

Remember that song by the Barenaked Ladies, "If I had a million dollars?"

(Thanks to my BFF Angela for reminding me how much I love that song the other day on Facebook...)

So I had a number of gluten-free dining experiences of Spring Break, some delightful, some good, some bad, some dreadful (some the fodder of upcoming posts on Ging Recommends!) And here's what I decided: I'll write a song. 

If I had a gluten-free menu:
First, I'd educate myself.  What does it mean to offer a gluten-free menu? Is this something I should broadcast on email, blogs, and Twitter? And what is the difference to the gluten-free diner in a gluten-free menu and gluten-free offerings?  Here's a hint:  I can find gluten-free offering almost everywhere if the chef/cook/staff is cooperative.  But a gluten-free menu means you're taking that extra step to insure my safety. And my loyalty. And my devotion. And most of all, my repeat business. (Having just been tarred and feathered on Twitter because of this issue, I will never take this lightly.) Before you jump? Ask a gluten-free patron. 

If I had a gluten-free menu:
I would make sure there was bread. I wouldn't make the gluten-free people drool over the delicious rolls the others were eating while the gluten-free people looked bewildered. I'd especially have bread when I knew a month in advance the gluten-free people were coming. For a celebration (MASSIVE fail, btw).

With all the bread options today, you can go out and get almost everything and keep it in a small freezer space.  From artisan Joan's Great Bakes to Van's to Food for Life to Udi's, there no reason not to have bread that you can heat and serve.  And mixes are everywhere! Buy a Ten Buck toaster and mark it GLUTEN FREE with a Sharpie....Need suggestions? Ask a gluten-free patron.  (or call the Four Seasons Park 75 Restaurant in Atlanta and speak to Marvin and Chef Rob.)

If I had a gluten-free menu:
I'd make sure there was dessert.  You make an awesome pecan pie, do you?  Put the pie in a ramekin without the crust and bake in a Bain Marie. Freeze. Thaw. Serve.  Or buy some individual desserts from the specialists out there -- from Moondance Gluten-Free Bakery, American Gra-Frutti, French Meadows, or even Pamela's, find a dessert and dress it up.  Need suggestions? Ask your gluten-free patron. (I have that recipe, BTW. Crustless Pecan Pie. To the right.)

If I had a gluten-free menu:
I'd hire a gluten-free consultant (Like my friend Jennifer Harris, or me, for that matter) and have them sit down with the staff to make sure the staff understood what gluten-free meant. That getting them a NEW salad when they've eaten half a contaminated salad would not help. And when someone says Gluten Free, make sure you don't add angel hair pasta crisps to her salad. And if they don't know what gluten free means?  Ask your gluten-free patron. 

If I had a gluten-free menu:
I would send my chef to training. I'd send him or her to the NFCA Chef's Training Program. Chefs need to be trained, too, that things like vinegar (unless malt) modified food starch (unless it says WHEAT) and caramel color can be gluten-free. Then the chefs can train the sous chefs, and the line cooks, and the others in the kitchen.  

If I had a gluten-free menu:
I would fire a server who took a gluten-free request lightly after the first offense. And I would discipline a server who plopped down an item in front of an identified gluten-free diner and said, "I don't know if you can have this or not, but if not, you can give it to them...."  That has happened to me twice in the last six weeks.  TWICE.  At MAJOR chain restaurants who are certified by the GFRAP by GIG.  Would you give peanuts to someone allergic to peanuts? Wait. Don't answer that. (P.S. I'm reporting you both.)

If I had a gluten-free menu:
And I glutened you in any way, or mistreated you, or for goodness sake, took you for granted, then I'd ask you to tell me in concise terms.  I'd want to know.  And I'd make it right. EVERY time.  And I'd do more than buy you a free dinner -- because you know what, I know you might be a blogger and would tell the world.  And I wouldn't like that.  The gluten-free customer is not only right, he or she is almost ALWAYS completely well informed.  

If I had a gluten-free menu:  I'd be safe, because *****Dining out is RISKY*****

Much love,

There's a prize awaiting on Ging Recommends!

So mosey on over and nourish your inner goddess!

Much love,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gluten-free on the way out?

This post has been removed at the request of the BlogHer Administration.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Resource Guide for the Gluten Free

A week or two ago, I told Lee Tobin at the Whole Foods GF Bakehouse I'd cobble together a list of GF resources for him to share with employees of Whole Foods. I decided to post it here, since it has a lot of resources for anyone who is newly gluten free.

I also ahared with him the awesome "How to Read Labels Handout" that I published here some time ago. This list was written by Jen on the Delphi Celiac Forum.

These resources aren't definitive, and I'm sure I left someone out. Don't be angry if I did. Do me a favor: If you want me to add you to this list, let me know in a comment.

Resources for Gluten-Free Living

Examiner Pages: There are an assortment of GF Examiner Pages available. Most are regional or specifically local, so they often have dining and shopping tips.
The root email address is: Http://Examiner.Com
Jennifer D. Harris at has a hot link to the following list of GF Food Examiners. It’s at the bottom left of her page.
Arizona, Phoenix - Shauna Stacy
Arizona, Phoenix - Rhonda Peters
California, Los Angeles - Allison Hecht
California, San Francisco - Amy Fothergill
Colorado, Denver - Tiffany Jakubowski
Connecticut, Manchester - Kim Hopkins
Conneticut, Hartford - Tinamarie Berger
Florida, Orlando - Amanda Bumgarner
Georgia, Atlanta - Alicia King
Illinois, Chicago - Anne Steib
Illinois, Chicago - Betsy Thompson
Kansas, Kansas City - Marissa Carter
Louisianna, Baton Rouge - Susan Weiss
Maryland, Silver Springs - Clara Ogren
Montana, Billings - Cindy Swa
New York, New York - Monica Rozenfeld
New York, Manhattan - Bernice Mast
North Carolina, Raleigh - Carrie Forbes
Ohio, Columbus - Kimberly Bouldin
Ohio, Toledo - Kristen Palmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City - Cara Goedecke
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia - Trish Deitemyer
Texas, Austin - Aarika Rosa
Texas, Austin - Jessica Meyer
Texas, Dallas - Kimberly Nies
Washington, Seattle - Sadie Amanda
Washington DC - Sandra Robins
National Examiner - Jen Cafferty


Delphi Celiac Forum is one of the largest, most informed listservs.


Blogs: There are hundreds of GF Blogs out there, but here’s a well-researched list that provide accurate information, advocacy, and recipes. These blogs cover every GF lifestyle, from vegan to full diet. And some offer recipes for other intolerances.
(Hot links are to the right on the bottom column on this blog.)

• Gluten-free Baking with Elizabeth Barbone
• Gluten Free Dee
• Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom
• Celiac Facts
• Delightfully Gluten Free
• Fresh Ginger
• Gluten Free in Georgia and Florida
• Ging Recommends!
• Ginger Lemon Girl
• Gluten Free Bay (Kosher and Vegan)
• Gluten Free Blog Feed
• Gluten Free Easily
• Gluten Free Steve
• Gluten Freedom Atlanta
• Gluten-Free Lifestyle
• Hold The Gluten! offers podcasts)
• Karina's Kitchen
• Gluten Free Gobsmacked
• Mike's GF Blog
• No gluten, no problem
• Sea's Book of Yum
• Gluten-free Girl and The Chef
• Simply Gluten Free
• Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
• The Celiac Shack
• The Gluti Girls
• Wheatless and Meatless

Tried and True GF Products -- MOST sold at Whole Foods!

• Bob's Red Mill
• GLOW Gluten Free Cookies
• Gluten Free Cookbook Reviews
• Gluten-Free Mall
• Pamela’s Products
• KIND Bars
• Glutino/Gluten-Free Pantry
• Larabar
• Starfish Battered Fish
• Tinkyada Pasta
• Udi's Gluten Free Bread
• Penzeys Spices

Diet, Health Guidelines, Articles, and Advice
• NFCA Celiac Symptoms
• Triumph Dining Guide
• National GIG Home Page
• Flour mixes for everyone!
• Do YOU have Celiac Disease? (From North Texas GIG)

Finding gluten-free resources on Twitter
Use the hashtags #gf #gluten-free #celiac #coeliac #autism #allergy and you’ll find the folks who are tweeting from a gluten-free frame.
I'm the ever controversial GingerCM btw...

Top 10 Gluten-Free Facebook Pages (via Maryland Celiac)

1. Enjoy Life Foods
2. 2. Gluten-Free by Dr. Peter Osborne

3. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

4. Celiac Handbook

5. Kinnikinnick Foods

6. Live Gluten Freely by General Mills

7. Karina’s Kitchen

8. Gluten-Free Girl

9. Gluten-Free on a Shoestring

10. Gluten-Free Houston

Maybe this will help you expand your gluten-free horizons!

Much love, and click away!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A question of Umami

(This is Golden Mountain Sauce. It is not gluten free. It says that on and also on the bottle. This is in no way an advertisement for this product. Nor am I dissing it.  Read on.)

Umami. The extra taste. The fifth taste -- Savoriness. You've seen the commercials on The Food Network. Ummmmmmmmmmm Umami (p.s. that is not a word on Words with Friends. I know that to be true.)

But for people who are gluten free, is it a problem?

It's incredible how this has come full circle this week for me. How it ended was dreadful, since I ended up being badly glutened. But it's really quite curious.

So here's what happened: Earlier in the week, my friend Julie Arens from Outback texted me and asked about the gluten-free status of a food additive called disodium inosinate I did what I always do -- I read what I could on the Internet. From what I could ascertain, this is an additive that combines itself with other additives to add taste to foods -- usually, according to Wikipedia, noodles, sauces, chips, etc. I didn't see anything listed in its material that indicated it was not gluten free, and I didn't have time to consult my favorite food scientist, Sara Boswell. As I read on, though I found it becomes the equivalent of UMAMI, that mysterious taste.

This category is analogous to sweeteners, but instead of the underlying molecules being chiefly glucose or sucrose, these umami sources are all rich in glutamate. In fact, chefs can often swap glutamate-heavy ingredients, e.g., swapping soy sauce with fish sauce -- because the underlying chemistry is similar.

So it is also a glutemate -- like monosodium glutemate. And now I understand why the home office was concerned -- Glute- is the root for GluteN. But they're not related at all. (I think that would pass for food science 101...I'm hoping.)

OK. Fast forward a couple of days...I am talking to some friends on Twitter about Thai Food. Now, I am a huge fan of Thai Food -- but I eat it out of my house very carefully. I always ask VERY SPECIFICALLY about the inclusion of soy sauce of any kind, or of added flour. My local Thai place has been really patient and wonderful, as has a restaurant I favor near my Dad's house in Atlanta. But I almost always have a Thai Curry -- usually Masaman, which has little more than curry, coconut milk, and fish sauce (which is gluten free).

So I'm raving to my friends and suggesting menu items, and I say, "Ask carefully about this, though. Eating out is Risky."

Ah, the mantra of the celiac -- Eating Out is Risky.

So when Mags called today and asked me to lunch at our Thai Place, I went with happiness. And when I saw they'd added Spicy Eggplant to the menu, I was THRILLED. I asked for it with pork, and once again, I asked, "No soy sauce or flour, right?" My sweet server, who works with me every time, said, "No, no. Just Golden Mountain, and it has no soy sauce in it."

FLASHBACK: Two times earlier, when I ordered their DUI Noodles (Rice Noodles, veggies, spicy, added some beef) she said there was no soy sauce or flour, just FISH sauce and Golden Mountain. But she said it had no soy sauce or wheat.

OK....following me? Can you see where this is going to be a freakin train wreck in a minute?

Yep. I ate the succulent dish -- ohhh, it was so wonderful! The eggplant melted in my mouth, and the pork was so moist...

And then it hit. About 10 minutes later, I felt "the rumble." And if you're gluten free, you know what happened next.

So I asked her (when I came back 10 minutes later) are you sure there's no soy sauce in this. She said, Golden Mountain. Told you last time, no soy sauce. So I asked to see the bottle.

She brought it out hidden in her apron, like it was some huge secret. And there it was on the label: wheat starch.

I showed her, the chef came out and apologized, we agreed how to avoid this in the future, etc. I paid, left, and began my afternoon of post-glutening hell....which is continuing as I write this.

So I decided to check out Golden Mountain Sauce

Turns out, it's consider the "Thai Secret Sauce" in the United States -- if you eat at Thai Restaurants and are gluten-free, you might have had this without knowing it. According to the chef today, they add "A little bit here and there" to spice up. It is a traditional Thai brown sauce ingredient. That is the major kind in the states up top -- if you see that bottle, say no. OH, and another funny fact -- it's a "secret sauce ingredient" in the states, but not in Thailand. Everyone uses it there.

Now, there are brands that are organic and natural and have no wheat in it (totally GREEN bottle) -- but I suspect many use that bottle up there at the top. If you eat Thai food, before you place your order, ask about the Golden Moutain Sauce, ok?

Now, let's bring this full circle. Guess what is one of the ingredients in Golden Mountain Sauce, beside soy and wheat? Yep. Disodium inosinate. It's also in Maggi sauce seasoning (NOT GLUTEN FREE), and in other sauces. It's an additive that, with certain other flavors, adds savor -- the Umami.

So, in answer to your question Julie. Yes, Disodium Inosinate is gluten free if it stands alone. It only makes trouble when friends begin to gather!

Meanwhile, the after effects continue. Bleah, blech!

Much love, and be careful now when you Thai one on...


Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch

Peter Cottontale is hopping down the bunny trail a little early this year! Please join us!

Much love, and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Atlanta Metro Celiacs meeting on Saturday

I'll be there. I hope you will be, too!
Much love, Ging