Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh Me, Oh My

So, it's been a while since I've last posted! The first week and a half of school so far has been pretty crazy, believe it or not. I've tried out a few new things in that time.
I ended up purchasing a frozen individual pizza from Wegmans, though I cannot remember the name of the brand for the life of me, unfortunately! Something with all grain bakery, but it was gluten free? Anywho, there was cheese on the dough but no sauce. I happen to have pizza sauce and cheese on hand, so I added some sauce and cheese on top of the already-cheesed dough. It cooks for about 20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F. It came out pretty tasty! I put too much sauce on, so it soaked the dough and I had to use silverware to eat it, but it was pretty good! Definitely something I'd look into buying again.

I also bought a frozen shepherd's pie from a brand called Organic something or other. I'm sorry I'm terrible with names! That was also gluten free, because the ingredients were basically the corn, potatoes, and beef. It was very tasty though, and I would definitely purchase that again, hopefully very soon!

Let's see...well, tonight I just finished baking another Gluten Free Chocolate Cake from Betty Crocker's mix. Very, VERY tasty :) This time I added some chocolate chips, approximately a quarter of a cup, to the mix just to give it a little bit more of a chocolate-y taste. It is very good without them, don't get me wrong! I'm just a chocolate-holic.

I'm sure I've made something else recently, and I do have more to talk about, but alas I have to try to eat in the cafeteria before my last class of the day, woot!

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mmm, Brownies!

This evening I decided to make my Bob's Red Mill Brownie mix. I brought up some cookware in order to survive the semester, but I also had to purchase some more, as well as some basic food ingredients. Thank goodness for Target's low prices!

The mix was pretty easy to put together, with only a handful of ingredients that needed to be added in. The mix was a little bit different in consistency than what I am used to, in that it stuck together kind of like an amoeba. It wasn't too thick, like from a lack of water ingredients, it's just very viscous. The mix says to cook at 350 F for 20-25 minutes in a 9" x 13" pan. When I checked at 22 minutes, it was still pretty uncooked. At 25 minutes, it definitely needed more time. I added eight minutes approximately to the total cooking time, so I cooked my mix for about 33 minutes. I'm not sure whether the oven I was using was staying consistent at 350 F, since it is just the oven in the community kitchen of my dorm building.

After I let the brownies cool off, I cut some for myself and a few friends. No one could tell that they were different in any way from normal brownies! The mixture makes quite a lot. I know with normal brownies, if I used a 9" x 13" pan, the brownies would not be very tall. However, these brownies were pretty tall and thick! And they are not made with any bean flour, so they are very, very delicious!! I highly recommend this mixture.

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another *School* Year

So, tomorrow begins my back to school madness/life. I'm stocked up on quite a bit of gluten-free food, but I know that it's not going to last me too long. It's going to be difficult eating in the cafeteria at my school as well. In fact, I tried to sign up/talk with someone about a gluten-free option. The school is quite small, so there's only one cafeteria, and you'd think people would be able to get in touch with each other, or at least put YOU, a STUDENT PAYING TUITION, in touch with someone that could help! Here's the story:

I gave them a phone call and explained that I had a gluten allergy, newly discovered. The woman I spoke with was at the main office of the college, and told me that "there's a lot of selection in the cafeteria." Clearly she had no idea what gluten was in, but she was going to tell me I could just eat without any special considerations. Apparently I'm supposed to live off lettuce *but without salad dressing, because most are not gluten free!* and her comment made me feel :-| . I politely informed her that gluten was in anything with flour, pasta, so on and so forth. "Oh, well...I'm not sure who you talk with about that" was her next helpful hint. She ended up putting me through to the person in charge of food service in the dining hall, who I left a message with explaining the problem, leaving my name and number and asking to be called back. I received no such return call, which made me feel :( . I called the school again after a day went by, and this time they decided to put me through to our campus health office, who informed me that was something that dining services needed to take care of, and that they didn't really have anything to do with it. They tried to put me through back to the dining people, but I explained how I hadn't gotten a phone call back, and they said they would get in touch with them for me. They gave me a call back a few minutes later, after getting in touch with someone (apparently they only talk to other staff members, and not students?) and told me that I'd have to go in person to the cafeteria and let them know about my problem, but that they were aware. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out. What a pain in the butt to go through, though! I feel bad to have this problem that inconveniences everyone, but at the same time I'm frustrated that in trying to explain it to people who don't understand is so difficult.

I guess a lot of people with problems that aren't widely publicized or widely known must go through this. I wonder if it will get easier with time, if more people will learn about it through the growing awareness of the problem. I hope that it doesn't get blown up into a Hollywood fad, like Kabbala and other such things have. I guess all I can do is hope for the best and see this through!

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Wasn't Expecting All This...

So, remember how I ate at Friendly's and knew I'd feel crappy a few days later? Try feeling crappy for about five days. I'm finally getting my regular appetite back and not feeling like I've got a heavy, pukey feeling in my stomach. Not to mention cramping like I think I'm going to have to race to the bathroom, only to discover nothing happens! How frustrating. I guess my body really got mad at me for cheating a second time, and this was the only way it could tell me so. Hmm, I guess I'm really going to have to stick harder to my guns and REALLY avoid gluten.

On a lighter note, I wanted to share another recipe that I really enjoy and is very tasteful and gluten-free *of course!!*. It's for homemade hash browns, and I think that they are rockin'! I started making them several years ago but recently added some spice just to make them a bit tastier. You can use anywhere from two to four potatoes, anything from P.E.I. to Yukon Gold to regular baking potatoes, it doesn't really matter. Peel the potatoes, and then using a grater (I have a tower grater with four sizes, I use the large one that can also grate cheese into sizes that you'd put on tacos, etc.), grate the potatoes onto something like a paper plate. Heat a pan on medium (I use five out of ten on my stove top) and melt a couple tablespoons of butter. Scatter some chives and onion powder (I really like the onion powder, so I use a lot-I'm sure real chopped onions would taste great too!!) into the melting butter and spread it around the bottom of the pan *I prefer non-stick*. Transfer the grated potatoes onto the surface of the pan, then put a tablespoon or two more of pieces of butter on top of the potatoes. Add to that exposed surface some more chives and onion powder (or onions, or whatever spice you'd like to try) and cover the pan. I like to make a lot of potatoes, so I use four potatoes with a large frying pan, and it is approximately half an inch thick of grated potato. I usually cook the potatoes for about eight to ten minutes before I cut them into four sections with a spatula. One section by one, I lift up the potatoes, put a little more butter on the pan where I removed that section, and then flip it over. I'm a fan of Paula Dean's major use of butter, cream, and all things delicious and deadly in the food world, so I really use a lot of butter in this recipe. I'm sure they'd be very good without as much butter, and you could probably use vegetable oil as a healthier substitute. I cook the grated potatoes on the second side for another five to ten minutes, depending on how browned I want them to be. The thinner they are in the pan, the more that the potatoes will crisp up. Since I make a lot and have them pretty thickly in the pan, the parts that are directly on the pan are crispy but the parts on the inside are more soft. I must say, they are quite delicious!

On to recipes that I haven't invented but am utilizing, I purchased some more gluten-free Betty Crocker products today at my local grocery store. They are finally there (new products take longer to bring in to sell, apparently) and are actually a dollar or two cheaper than at the Price Chopper. I made the Betty Crocker Gluten-free brownie recipe and added some chopped walnuts (a brownie isn't a brownie unless it has nuts!) and it came out really well! The cook time for an 8" by 8" pan was something like 28-31 minutes at 350, though I believe I cooked mine for approximately 35-38 minutes. When I checked them with a toothpick at 28 minutes the bottom was still wet, and the same at 31 minutes. I'm not sure if it's just my oven or not, but they weren't at all burnt from staying in there for so long. I think that they taste very much, if not almost exactly, like the regular brownie mix.

Another recipe I made in the past few days was a pancake and waffle mix that I bought at Whole Foods Market. It is called Brown Rice Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix, from the brand Gluten-Free Pantry. It says that you use half the actual mix in the bag to make the recipe, but I found it to be quite runny and not at all thick. I decided to use a little bit more of the powder mix when I made them, so when I finish the mix off I'm planning on using less of the liquid ingredients. I believe I can cut back in the water category. The pancakes came out pretty well, though they are not as naturally tasty as the ones I'm used to, so the next time I made them I'm planning on using maple syrup on them (Vermont Maid is my syrup of choice, and as I discovered when I purchased it today, it is GLUTEN-FREE!).

I've got some flour from the Whole Foods Brand 365 that I could use to try and make the pancake recipe I used to use, but I'm not sure if it will come out well or not. With other flours, that substitution hasn't really worked out. For instance, one brand the pancakes rose up a few inches in the pan, and didn't fully cook in the middle because they expanded so much. Another one, Bob's Red Mill's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, had a bean taste to it. I'm definitely going to avoid anything with bean flour from now on, as I think I've mentioned before. It really is the worst taste in the world, and it doesn't go away for a while.

While perusing the Whole Foods Market website in an effort to find a location near my college (closest one-four hours away, gasp!), I discovered that they have a nice gluten-free section. It can be accessed at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/gluten-free.php. There are several links on the right-hand side of the page that talk about different gluten-free subjects. There are even off-site links listed underneath those! I think it's really great that they are so helpful to those of us that are gluten-intolerant/-allergic.

At the Whole Foods Market, I bought a couple frozen dinner meals. One was a macaroni and cheese, which I had a few nights ago. It was delicious! I was very surprised and pleased. It didn't have that same cheese taste I'm used to from Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but it was a healthier, more natural cheese taste. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name, but it was purchased in the freezer section and was specifically gluten-free. Another meal I purchased was from the Glutino brand, and was a salmon dinner with broccoli and cranberry pilaf. It was also very good, and I ate it on my lunch break from work just the other day. I'm glad to see there are frozen meals that are easy to heat up and eat, though like all the other gluten-free products I've discovered they were a bit more expensive. Approximately $5.50 to $6.50 each. Yikes! Though it is probably just as expensive to try and make your own meals sometimes!

Well, this was a long post, but I think I was making up for not adding anything for a few days. As always, if you have ANY questions, comments, or criticisms, I'm up to hear them!!

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton

Friday, August 21, 2009

Update on the Bread!

So, the recipe came out delicious! I'm very excited because it honestly tastes like normal bread that you could make in a bread maker (well, you can use the bread maker to complete the recipe but I thought oven would go quicker). I only experienced one slight problem, but that could be do to a few factors.

The bread was still a bit doughy in the middle after being cooked for 27 minutes at 375. I didn't go the full 30 because it was pretty brown on the top and sides. This might have happened because my bread pan was slightly different than what the recipe calls for. It asks for a 9" x 5" bread pan, but mine was 9.5" x 4.5" which I thought was comparable, but it might have caused the doughy middle. I'm thinking that when I make the recipe again, because I will be doing so VERY soon *Whole Foods trip planned for Sunday!!*, I may use two loaf pans to make it. Or at least, not put all the dough in my bread pan since the dimensions are off. When I put the dough in, it was only about half an inch off from the top of the pan, so when it rose in the oven it was actually about three inches higher than the top of my bread pan. I'm thinking that if I add it to be about slightly over half-full, it may rise a little bit less compared with the actual pan, and it may cook fully because it won't be so tall.

Since the bread was doughy in the center, the bread was also pretty heavy, but I'm sure once the middle is properly cooked it won't weigh nearly as much. Also, I am toasting each piece I cut in order to get rid of some of the doughy center. It's delicious with and without butter, and I'm sure the next time I bake it, I'll probably just eat pieces as they are.

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton

Oh Boy, This Is Proving To Be Difficult

So, remember how I was supposed to tell how my gluten-free lunch went? Well, we ended up eating at Friendly's, where I can eat one of two meals. I decided I didn't want sirloin tips or Monterey Jack chicken, so I decided to go for broke and have what my favorite dish was back when I ate anything I wanted: chicken strips with honey mustard sauce. Mmmm. And it was good! Up until about 20 hours later when my gastrointestinal system decided it was a very very bad idea that needed to be immediately eliminated. Ouch. Apparently I didn't really learn my lesson on Monday with the Chinese food. I think that since I let myself eat regular food one day, it was easier to just say, 'oh it's okay, I'll be fine' the next time I was confronted with the decision. I've thought a lot about it and am in the process of rebuilding my resolve to remain gluten-free. It's really not about how good the food tastes when I eat it, because it makes me sick, so I just have to learn to suck it up and do it for my health. It might be hard sometimes but that's life.

So, with that new mindset, I decided tonight to make a gluten-free sandwich bread mix from a company called 365, a Whole Foods brand. Right now I'm waiting for the dough to rise in the pan as per instructions *30-40 minutes* and then I'll be baking it in the oven for approximately 30 minutes at 375 until it's golden brown. I'm excited to see how it tastes, since it is made from rice flour and therefore should NOT taste like beans! I'll let you know how it comes out, of course.

I know I'm making mistakes in this whole process, but I'm realizing where I need to "man up" and learning how to deal with it all. Maybe you've gone through this same thing, or are going through it right now. I'd love to hear any stories or try to answer any questions you might have! And if you've got links to share, go for it!

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nobody Likes A Cheater...

Yet, sometimes people cheat. Usually, not me, but unfortunately this time it was. Due to unavoidable transportation issues, I was stranded at work for my lunch hour this Monday. I had no prepared lunch. The Chinese menu beckoned me. I decided that I would have Chinese food for lunch, and throw caution to the wind, and have things with gluten in them, no matter what the consequences.

It probably wasn't my smartest idea.

Later that night I felt pretty sick to my stomach, the same kind of nausea I had grown accustomed to pre-gluten-free diet. However, it was tolerable, and I thought I was out of the woods. Well, for the most part the forest was behind me, but there were a few trees that I still had to pass by before I got to the road.

Today, two days later, pretty much 48 hours after having broken my diet for that one meal, I had some pretty obnoxious cramping that lasted for about half an hour. I know that this is due to the gluten-filled food I ate on Monday. With my intolerance to gluten, I don't digest food the right way, meaning it takes a lot longer for things to come through, and when they do it's not in a pleasant way; it's painfully, involving all sorts of cramping and bloating. So, I learned that this really will be the price I pay for having foods with gluten. I guess in a way it will be helpful, in that I can discover which foods that aren't necessarily labeled gluten free are or are not, based on if I get sick from them. :-/

I have to maintain a good attitude about this, however. I have to realize that some people have it a lot worse than me, that have even worse reactions when they have gluten. And some of those people are probably undiagnosed, too, which would be especially worse, since they wouldn't even know what to avoid since they wouldn't know what the cause was. If I'm technical about it, I am undiagnosed, since my doctor wants to be wishy-washy about re-testing my blood. However, I was gluten-free (completely) for 15 days and pretty much great for that time, and when I re-introduced gluten foods for one meal I was not so fine. I suppose that's enough of a diagnosis for me, at least for now.

On to more uplifting and exciting news!

I made the Gluten-Free Devil's Food Chocolate Cake from Betty Crocker! It is delicious! In fact, I tried a piece when it was still warm and I wanted to eat the entire thing right then and there. I held back, however, so that I could enjoy it for a few more days. I recommend at least trying it for anyone who is gluten-free, because it really is quite similar to any other cake you may make and it's a nice treat!

It's getting a little late right now, and I have to be up early. I will be going out to eat tomorrow for lunch in Albany, not sure of where, but I'll be SURE to report back on what sorts of gluten-free options I can find at whatever restaurant I visit!

Until next time,
Gluten, Not Glutton