These last few years have proved the opposite. And this year, well, to quote Jerry Seinfeld -- it has SUCKED. And the sad thing is, next year is already shaping up pretty dreadful because of my continued battle with this autoimmune disorder called Giant Cell Arteritis. I am on Prednisone and a Chemo Drug called Methotrexate, and I expect to continue to be on both most of next year (and the year after).
But enough about me.
This is my sincere, honest attempt this year at closure (including a health update). You see, I've gotten some amazing products and books from vendors this year, and in spite of my best intentions, I never got that last post up on this blog. To be honest, I didn't get posts up on my PR Blog either.
Blogging became a chore to me this year. As much as I love it, I never dreamed that would be the case. But I couldn't see the computer, didn't have time during my day because of my exhausting teaching schedule, and when I got home at night -- all I wanted was migraine drugs and ice packs. I have been told I've disappointed a lot of people this year. But I can't apologize to anyone who would feel this way about someone who could barely get out of bed every morning to go to work. Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.
I am determined to do better, as always. And I am not going to give up on this blog. I know the prizes from MyBlogSpark are one good reason to keep it alive. I see my blog as part of my volunteer ministry to the GF community, trying to give back to those who have given so much to me. And I need the catharsis. But this fall I gave up my work with the Middle Georgia GIG , which broke my heart.
**Friends -- on Facebook, Twitter, in life -- ask me what they can do. Pray and trust that I'll tell you news when there is some. Try to understand how painful it is to talk about, that I can't rehash this mess for everyone at their leisure. Life exhausts me. There WILL be a Facebook note next week (year) as soon as I hear from Mayo Doc. And my doc found another complication yesterday. Wednesday should bring you the update.
So first, I'd like to thank those vendors who continued to send me stuff, even though they knew how sick I was and that I might now get a post done for them. Undying devotion to American Gra-Frutti , Amy's Kitchen (and Fortune Public Relations ), Glow Gluten Free cookies, Kettle Cuisine , Moondance Heavenly Desserts , Starfish Battered Fish , and Udi's Gluten Free , who were the most faithful friends and supporters. They prayed for me in in my lowest hours and lifted me up when I couldn't move.
Bless your hearts.
I'd also like to thank the Gluten-free Gurlz and guys I'm closest to -- you know who you are, don't you? I hope so. And extra special thanks to my Human eye people, Lori and Janet. Greater love hath no one...
But there are some things I wanted to discuss before this year ends.
SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADO or APOLOGIES.....
•Cookbooks were big this year in the GF community. What little reading (beside my college requirements needed to teach) I did was of these glorious books!
The most beautiful and groundbreaking because of its impact on both the GF Community and the world was "Gluten-free Girl and the Chef." I found it lifted my spirits when I read it -- I could FEEL their love for each other and for healthy delicious GF food. ** I have said here many times that reading Shauna's blog inspired me to be the GF Paula Deen of the South in 2007. I don't think anyone has ousted me from that role. But her attitude, her passion, Danny's passion, the laughter and joy in their beautiful daughter Lucy -- they INSPIRE me and make me proud to me a member of the GF World. And this book is so damned luscious in every way. You should buy it if you didn't have it already. (And I still dream of the day I get to meet Shauna....)
**That has been most important since August because I've lost most of my taste and appetite for food -- the chemo treatments for my GCA have destroyed my taste buds and my appetite. OK, most of the time. But I find myself no longer drooling over food. That's a good thing, though frightening for a foodie like me. YES, I still eat strictly GF food. But I've also lost around 20 pounds since Oct. 1, too.
•I had the honor of meeting Jules E. Dowler Shepard at the Atlanta Gluten-Free Vendor Fair. You know Jules Gluten Free ? She wrote the magnificent "Free for all Cooking," which I think is the perfect book for a new GF and Celiac person.
You can feel her love for baking and cooking in this book, and her flour is outstanding. My friend Judith loves Jules, and it made my DAY when I got to introduce the two at the Vendor Fair. But I'm keeping my book....if I ever start to bake or cook much again soon, there are so many recipes in here I want to try. I want to make her Eggless Cake for my vegan friend Patricia....the fruit bars. So much. But Jules -- She's SUCH a lovely person, and while I was so pleased to get a copy of her cookbook a few weeks ago, I'm most glad that I've got her as a friend. And she has the baking gene I so often talk of here on this blog. I don't. I wish I could have spent more time with her and attended her class, but (as usual) I was exhausted and had to go rest. But that's what a new year is about.
•I was given a copy of the wonderful The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by the brilliant Elana Amsterdam. I was charged with a giveaway, so I did that via my Twitter Account. Lori Pocock won it, and she has baked so many delicious things from it, I wish I had my own copy now! I am hopelessly addicted to the Almond Sesame Seed Crackers....in all flavors, in all ways. I rarely bake any more, so Lori has brought me these crackers, and I ration them. Delicious. And a great book.
•Last week I got two cookbooks I've been anticipating for a while now -- Anne Bryn's "The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten Free" and Roben Ryberg's "The Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book." I brushed shoulders with Anne several times while I was a journalist and PR Professional in Atlanta in the 1980s, and Roben, well, she's become a friend through Delphi Celiac Forum and Facebook. I tested one of the cookie recipes for her, too -- Snickerdoodles, Jeffrey's favorite. They were fabulous and I cried because they reminded me of my dear mother, who always baked for Jeffrey.
I have all of Roben's books (mostly bought them myself, but appreciate the recent copy) because they have such incredible accuracy and integrity in baking. I mean, lack the gene, remember? I can make almost anything gluten free I want, and if I can't make it, I can find a source. But baking ...well, some books miss the mark. None of Roben's books do that. They're also so reasonably priced, they'd make a great investment for someone newly diagnosed GF or with Celiac.
And the chance that I can use all those Betty Crocker Cake mixes in my pantry -- Thank you, Anne Byrn. I can't wait.
I just got both books and haven't tested or read very far, but I can't wait to. Anne will be speaking at an upcoming Atlanta Metro Celiacs meeting on Feb. 26. I hope I get to go!
I discovered and highly recommend the following products from testing this year. They are all delicious, high quality, gluten-free, and worth every penny you spend on them. I am not going to wax poetic on them. One taste and you will know how great they are.
•The GF Kosher baked items from Katz Gluten Free -- GF love to all including Mrs. Katz, Shmmuley, and Faigy. This is one of the friendliest companies. I want to do more with them in 2011. I want to find them in more stores. They're so delicious and not too sweet.
•Sahale Snacks are now offering gf nut snacks in Seattle's Best Coffee Shops. I love the Valdosta Blend so much -- Sing Buri is also GF. I have been eating it since I was GF. The fact that it's named for a Georgia City....I find them at Harry and David, Target, and at WalMart.
Two products I tried this fall were great for my new life as a member of Weight Watchers (a little over 20 pounds. Thanks for asking. No one can imagine I'm losing weight on Prednisone. But the fact that Methotrexate kills my appetitie....)
•The wonderful folks from Popcorn Indiana have great popcorn snacks that are gluten free and also available on the shelves at my local WalMart. (Also at Costco and Sams, and other stores, I'm sure). I have enjoyed the kettle corn, the popcorn balls, the cheddar corn. So many tasty GF flavors. We'll be snacking on this tonight during the marathon of football I antipate through Monday (help me!) Nice people, great representation. Wonderful product.
•I found Savory Creations at my local Kroger long before my friend Gluten Free Dee (xoxo) send me a sample. This is hands down the best GF stock out there. It comes in a stick, can be used a cup at a time, and is so rich and delicious. I used it throughout the holidays to enhance turkey gravy, beef stew, and tonight it will become some au jus. At under $3 a pack, it's a deal. Awesome. It has achieved Staple Status.
•Perhaps the best for last is the one that has impressed me not because of the product (which I already loved) but the way that product used an intern to communicate with bloggers. I don't know C