i dig it

lovin' the look and the images on the packaging and site.  they're so brownie-like.  dark.  baked and little gooey.  you can feel the cake-iness in your eyes when you look at the slightly off drawings.  it's warm.  rich.  i'm into it.

this place makes brownies that are gluten free, sugar free, protein-full and without any refined flours.  they're made to promote stable blood sugar levels and satiate that chocolate appetite with all of the protein.  there are 4 flavors:  an intense dark chocolate made with real cocoa, orange chocolate, mint chocolate (a personal fav), and good ol' fashioned fudge walnut.  i'd say there's something for everyone there... unless they don't like brownies.  what?  no way.  there's something for everyone there.

i don't know if they're available in stores, but you can place an order for them on the website.  i'll keep an eye out at places like whole foods though, just in case.  if anyone's found one/tasted one/snuck up behind one let us know!


pills fix everything!!

alvine pharmaceuticals, a company that has made the move to treat celiac with a pill (ah, how 21st century), has just received 2 patents for a new drug therapy for the disease. from what i can gather from the press release, the drug that's currently in testing is composed of a protease and endopeptidase, whose jobs it is to break down gluten and render it powerless. in other words, it digests the protein and makes it into something that your immune system isn't going to react to. in my mind, this is similar to a lactaid pill, which provides your body with digestive enzymes which break down those irritating milk sugars that can bother individuals that don't produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme on their own. while a lactose intolerance isn't an immune intolerance or allergy issue outright (it can be caused by such a problem at its root, but it is not --in and of itself-- an immune-related response), this concept of supplementing enzymes to break down an offending substance is similar to what i believe is the function of the gluten-digesting pill.

since this pill is designed to be used to break down the gluten before your body ingests it, i think it's safe to assume that it is not meant as a treatment for acute symptoms. this can only mean that when you absolutely must scarf down that slice of whole wheat bread, you take the pill along with it. huh? i suppose it could be useful if you're going out to dinner with your boss and don't want to make a scene, and so you lean over at the table and pretend to rummage through your purse, while secretly popping a pill and grinning as you take a swig of ice water. then you wouldn't have to worry about potentially getting ill from that work lunch and being found curled and incoherent under your desk later in the day. ok. i'll give it credit as a back-up, emergency plan, but how many of us really NEED to snack on wheaty stuff with such a burning desire that we're willing to pop pills? since a gluten intolerance can be treated through avoidance with amazing success (duh), you can be pretty sure that insurance companies aren't going to cover the stuff. plus, it'll be interesting to see if there are any side effects, or if it will really work for those with extremely severe intolerances.

don't sign me up for the test run. i'll just keep chugging along the way i've been, thank you. don't pass the bread.


how we are hungry

reading this article feels like walking into that glass patio door that you were certain was open but was, in fact, closed.  here we are, writing about gluten free living, gluten free food, and how we have life-long, incurable diagnoses of intolerances, allergies and celiac disease.  here we are, never wanting for options and never truly needing to look far for the products we require to make our lives a little more "normal."  if you're reading this you're on a computer, and so GF products are no more than a click and a mail box away from you right at this moment.  

why are we so drawn to blogging?  why is it that there is such a strong grouping of GF bloggers out there?  i'd be willing to say on record that there is a thread which connects all of us gluterinis that is stronger than the bizarre immune reflex that brings us together.  we all crave community.

the foods we lose in our lives are far outweighed by the people we gain and the sense of community we feel.  there is something special about this project and there is always someone to turn to when GF life throws you a curve ball.  there are people in our lives that understand and will sit there next to you long into the evening hours because you've accidentally eaten some gluten and can't untwist your aching self and so tonight's plans have to be cancelled last-minute.  again.  and it's okay.  

we are so lucky.

we can continue our lives because we have options and we have this support.  without either of these the things that which makes us different can become unbearable, and we have to realize how important it is that these differences be changed in our minds into something that makes us strong and special.  and this brings me back to the article about a 3-year old girl living in yorktown, new york who suffers from a strange type of allergy that allows her to eat nothing.  


little hannah has a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, which causes her white blood cells to gather in her esophagus, which over time hardens this oh-so necessary pipe.  if life continued in this manner she faces an eventual inability to swallow, potential cracking of her hardened esophagus, and a life spent nourishing her body with a feeding tube.  she is 3 and there is very little in life that she can chew and taste, and she subsists on a formula that doesn't cause this irritation but tastes so terrible she must drink it from a bottle to bypass her taste-buds.  she's allergic to the flavoring.  and what makes things more difficult?  her insurance won't pay for the one thing she needs to be kept alive.  

we are so lucky.

i hope there is a community for this child.  i hope she finds the support that she will need when kids get a bit older and whole lot nastier and suddenly being the one that's special turns to different in her mind and life just gets hard.  kids can be demons if given the chance, and may she never know this with regard to her means of nourishment.  may she find her niche.  her group of supporters.  the ones that love her even when she can't join them in eating a meal.  may they not even notice that separation anymore, as i'm sure your loved ones barely notice what sets you apart when you gather at the table.  may she write a blog.  start a group.  gather her thoughts and help someone else who suddenly finds her child is one of the estimated 1-in-10,0000 that suffers the same.  may she be the one that makes the difference.  changes insurance.  changes her life.  and may she be the one to see all of these things and sit back and say~

i am so lucky.



i checked my email last night and what to my surprise...

there was a neat little message waiting for me from kari out, the company that makes those handy dandy little soy sauce packets that i've been drooling over.  they let me know that the product is available for consumer purchases, and i now have 3 websites that sell the sauce by the packet.  the prices vary significantly at each place, ranging from $0.67 per packet (what?  are they joking?) to $0.11 per sauce bomb.  since i don't want to pay to ship this stuff ever again, i'm going to order a whole bunch of the little guys in multiples of 12, since on the allergy grocer site you get 10% off for making their lives easier and saving them from having to break apart a 12-pack "case" of the stuff.  you can get about 100 on that site for less than 20-bucks, and that should last a while!  boy oh boy do these things sound fabulous as compared to those tipsy drippy bottles i usually haul along to my fav sushi spots!

retailer sites:

glutenfree.com: $0.59 per packet.  crazy!  but if you like their other GF products, what you save on shipping it all together might make up for the extra quarters spent.  maybe?

minimus.biz: $0.11 a piece.  a deal!  but they really aren't a GF retailer, so if you're just in for the sauce then it's a great place to get it.

allergy grocer:  my personal fav.  you can search for products based on a list of ingredients -- check the ones you want eliminated and they'll only show you the products that meat your criteria.  TONS of GF stuff available, and loads of goodies for those with even more limited diets.  the soy sauce packets go for $0.19 each, but there's a 10% discount (per packet) if you keep the 12-packs together.  

excuse me, it's time to place my order.


gluterinis in the blue water


got a post from a very concerned chef...
the thai lobster soup and the french fries previously listed below are NOT GLUTEN FREE!
the first contains fish sauce (always avoid this one, gluterinis) and the second shares frying oil with the onion rings.

a very sincere THANKS for these corrections! we need people like you looking out for us from the inside, and it means the world! and in my opinion, despite the fact that the PR person made an error, knowing that there's a chef at the restaurant who really truly knows what they're doing when it comes to preparing GF food (and then goes out of their way to correct this blog!) makes the restaurant that much more appealing. now if there was only a way to ensure that we ate there on a night when you're working...


i've been emailing what i call the superlative restaurants -- those that have earned the title of "most popular" and "favorite" on resources like the zagat guide. not all (in fact, most) do not include GF options on their websites, and since it appears that you crazy chicagoians love them so much, i've decided that i need to do some digging of my own. first to reply was...

blue water grill. just got a response from them this morning. i had a feeling that they had some GF options up their sleeve... i had eaten there twice before, and just by using the common sense approach i managed to emerge unscathed. here's the list that i received from a very nice restaurant PR associate:


fresh main lobster maki roll with wasabi tobiko, grapefruit and guava gelee

toro scallion maki roll

ahi tuna carpaccio with pickled mushrooms, shaved parm and fried artichoke

steamed mediterranean muscles with green curry, coconut and cilantro


roasted diver scallops with celery apple puree, crisp serrano ham and sherry gastrique

panchetta wrapped tuna with white beans, tomato confit, arugula and warm lemon vinaigrette

australian black angus strip steak with NO parm fries, grilled asparagus and béarnaise sauce

there is also a note saying that all entrees can be prepared simply grilled with a choice of gluten-free sides. i don't know if all of their sides are gluten free, and i didn't get a list, so that's something to ask about.

i would recommend that you make your server away of your needs, despite the fact that you are now armed with this handy list. because certain menu items just so happen to not contain gluten, it doesn't mean that it's a gluten-aware kitchen, and cross contamination is always something to look out for. that being said, it always feels good to know that there's another definite option out there! especially when it's as delicious as blue water grill.

i am waiting on a few responses from other popular restaurants in the area, but if you have a place that you've always wanted to try or a favorite haunt and you're sick of ordering that one thing you know is safe -- write up a post. let me know. i'll send my feelers out and see what i can get back for you. like i always say: the more information we have the better off we all are, and we gluterinis have got to watch out for each other! couldn't do it without you guys~

520 north dearborn st
(at grand ave)

monday - friday 11:30am - 3pm

sunday 11:30am - 3pm

sunset (happy hour, maybe?)
monday - friday 3pm - 5pm
saturday 4pm - 5pm
sunday 3pm - 4pm

monday & tuesday 5pm - 10pm
wednesday & thursday 5pm - 11pm
friday & saturday 5pm - 12pm
sunday 4pm - 10pm

(outdoor cafe classes at 11pm on friday and saturday)


another handy bit from living without

click the image to download the guide (pdf)

events events!

whole foods market north evanston (1640 chicago ave) is hosting a gluten-free education series which is aimed to "help you lead a healthy, happy and delicious gluten-free lifestyle."  the remaining 2 classes take place on february 28th, topic: gluten-free at home, and march 27th topic: gluten -free dining out.   both run from 7 - 8:30pm.  classes are a steal at $15 each, and my past experiences trying to sign up for whole foods cooking classes tell me that you should register right away if you're interested!  for registration info click here.

the CSAGC is having their 7th annual celiac walk in oak brook.  it's scheduled to take place on may 17, 2008.  you'll need registration and waiver forms, as well as a pledge sheet which can all be found here.  i'm assuming the donations will go towards the group's celiac education programs, their work with health professionals, public awareness efforts, and social events -- at least that's what it says on the pledge form!  check in is 9am, and the walk begins at 10.  the registration fee is $20 per person, $50 per family, and the late reg fees are $5 more.  there will be a raffle and gluten-free food served.  for more info, click the link above or call 847.225.4156.

i sure need this!  it's a 2-day conference and expo, with demonstrations by fabulous GF-wise chefs, a vendor showcase so you can see and preview some GF products that are available, including liquors and beer, and "gourmet gluten free breakfasts and lunches for attendees."
it's taking place at the doubletree hotel in oakbrook, which is where the 3 doubletree GF-friendly restaurants are located (atrium cafe, anthony's, and foxes -- see sidebar).  the event dates are friday, september 12 thru saturday september 13, 2008.  if you register by may 15, the full 2-day conference will be $349, and 1 day (either friday or saturday) is $179.  registration after that date ups your price by $30 for the full course and $20 for the single.  click here for the event website.

new news

hi all.

i haven't been posting as regularly as i'd like, and the reason for that is because i've been ankle-deep in research.  yes...  so i'll admit that a chicago-only database really isn't entirely too helpful and there's a whole state out there that extends beyond the loop and adjoining areas.  

my eyes have been opened.  i've extended my listings to include all of illinois.

my reviews will probably remain fairly localized to the greater chicago area, however i always welcome reader reviews, personal experience, and/or any opinions you may have on a restaurant, bakery or shop.  the more info we have, the better off we'll all be in the long run, so let's share and share alike.  awww.  how nice are we?

as the next fews days progress, i'll be adding more and more links to my sidebar with GF and gluterini-friendly places.  here's hoping my quest for one-stop info shopping will come just a little closer to reality.  now i'm off to the sidebar for some major linkage-updating.


a little this & a little that

i'm hoping that fellow chicagians are aware of what the university of chicago's got going on.  they have one serious celiac disease center, where they not only offer help for those with the disease, but they have annual seminars to educate doctors about the issue and how to properly diagnose and treat celiac in patients.  another annual event is their free blood screening for individuals that are at risk for the disease.  this is a pretty big deal, because most people have health insurance that will not pay for this testing and/or doctors that don't deem it necessary.  i know that i had issues with these at the start, and in the end i needed to have blood testing, an endoscopy and intestinal sampling done to analyze those sneaky little microvilli.  there is no date set for 2008's blood tests, but the 2007 one was in october -- plan to wait a few months for it.  the registration for the last test was in august, so make sure to check back on the site if you or someone you know might be interested.

as this institution survives on donations, they hold an annual benefit and silent auction.  i have to admit that i smiled when i read on the website that every single event that they've hosted has sold out.  i don't know why but that was a pleasant surprise.  the next GF benefit will be taking place on wednesday, april 16, from 6pm until 10pm.  there will be lots of delicious GF foods from chicago's most talented chefs.  click on the save the date if you're interested.

also on the website you'll find information about celiac advocacy, including articles on new FDA labeling laws and ways to educate legislation and insurance companies to hopefully make our lives a little easier (and maybe a little more financially friendly?).  the resource section has lists of celiac orgs, ways to find a celiac-educated doctor in chicago (woohoo!  i think they're mostly u chicago docs), and even a means to getting some GF communion wafers for those church-goin' folks.  

let's see... what else... of course they offer basic info on the disease.  facts on diagnosis.  treatment.  symptoms.  they have information explaining the difference between an allergy and intolerance, which i think is great because the majority just doesn't understand that no, i'm not allergic to wheat, but i still can't eat it.  it can be tough to explain if someone really wants to understand what's going on!  

finally, they have what looks to be a seasonal newsletter, and if my internet connection was better (it gets wretchedly weak on weekends for some strange reason) i'd download the PDF and check that out.  you can also sign up to have it automatically emailed to you.  something to consider.

i think this is pretty awesome, and definitely worth your browsing time whether you're living in chicagoland or not.  it never hurts to be an educated gluterini!

the university of chicago celiac disease center
celiac disease hotline (monday - friday): 773.702.7593


nothing's finer than some fishies

sushi is one of those things that i can eat for every meal, day in, day out, and never get sick of it.  i just love those raw fishies.  i also love how going out for sushi is just so easy, and common sense seems to go a long way towards enjoying a fabulous meal and making it through the whole thing without chowing down on some gluten.  through my numerous hunts for the best tasting sushi at a price that i can afford, i have discovered what i believe to be a general truth about the food -- the super high-end places aren't the best.  maybe i'm just a sushi purist and i don't like those crazy deep friend, cream cheese filled, and otherwise fancy-pants-ified rolls that are common at more formal joints.  I like to taste my fresh salmon for what it is, and it's pretty damn tasty.

there have been a few things i've learned in my many years enjoying the raw stuff.  here's a brief run down:

1.  never order take out.  you get whatever is left over, and you're not able to complain about it.
2.  sushi + refrigerator + 12 hours = dog food
3.  octopus ain't never gonna be eaten by me.  i'd rather chew on a belt.
4.  same goes for sea urchin.  i'm not going to tell you what that's like chewing on.

okay okay okay.  enough with the jokester act.  i do have some useful information that you can use the next time you find yourself perched at the sushi bar, wondering what deliciousness needs to find its way to your plate.  first off, and i'm sure this is redundant, don't reach for the soy sauce.  i usually bring my own, in that big, awkward bottle, and like someone sneaking home-brought snacks in a movie theater i'll guiltily shove my heavy purse to the far side of the booth.  i'll look about with shifty eyes, in hopes that the sushi chefs don't see me fill that little dish with some dark liquid pouring from my bag.  my goodness that makes dinner entertaining! 

for those of you that refuse to go without the 'sauce, i found this AWESOME product just this afternoon, and i'm trying to figure out how to order it for home delivery.  kari out, a company that supplies restaurants with condiments and such, makes little tiny, ketchup-sized packets of low sodium, GLUTEN FREE SOY SAUCE.  oh hell yeah.  i am NOT kidding.  a product like this deserves a description containing words in all caps.  i so want a box of these babies in my pantry, each of them at the ready and oh-so conveniently sized and non-leaking for my small purses!  come to momma!  i am sending the company an email on non-corporate orders, and will let you know what they say about it.

let's get back on topic.  soy sauce is a no.  check.  

miso can also be a no-no, but not always.  white miso is sometimes made with only rice and soy, however you can always cross red miso off of your list.  ask your server what's in their miso recipe if you're just dying for some.  same goes for that seaweed salad.  recipes differ, and some places are GF when making that green deliciousness.  some are not.  

speaking of green deliciousness, wasabi is only okay if it's pure wasabi.  some places use wasabi that's been cut with other ingredients, and this often includes some gluten product to maintain its consistency.

crab stick is made with pure wheat gluten.  yeah.  doesn't get any better than that.  if you eat anything with "crunch" or tempura you might as well stick a spoon in a bag of whole wheat flour and start feasting.  eel, or "unagi," is cooked in a wheat-based sauce and then drizzled with it, and pretty much anything with a sauce or a drizzle is probably a good idea to avoid.  

spicy rolls are iffy, and you are best off to ask how they are prepared as the spicy aspect of it might be a naughty gluteny sauce just waiting to turn your innards into knots.  most salad dressings and such are also suspect.

sake can sometimes be made with barley.  although it is distilled, some super sensitive folks will react to that.  i suggest that you either find a brand you're familiar with on the menu, or go for one of the more premium offerings, as the barley-containing sakes are the lower end varieties.  otherwise, sake is rice wine is should be a-okay.

perhaps this is why i love the simple sushi approach, and i stay away from the crazy combo rolls.  when sushi is just so fresh it is just so so delicious, and i'd rather not have those sauces and extras anyway.  who wants "crunch" when that bit of bright pink buttery salmon melts in your mouth?  the rice is seasoned just-so and the seaweed hugs it all together and keeps all of those gorgeous colors in place?  sushi feels healthy in my body after a meal, and it's not just a treat for my taste buds but it's also a feast for my eyes.

man, i just love those fishies.

* * *
my fav wallet-friendly sushi place:

888 s michigan avenue
chicago 60605

50 e grand avenue
chicago 60611

monday - friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 5 - 11pm
saturday: 5pm - 11pm
sunday: 5pm - 9pm


eat for cheap-ish

this post is going to be rather short.  i plan for it to act more like reminder or a heads-up, if you will.  if it doesn't make much sense, please let this one go by.  i was hit full-force by a viral sledgehammer and high doses of cold meds render my brain useless.  

here's the bit:
feb 22-29

make your reservations now!  i mean right now.  i could barely get into a place and wound up with a 6pm time slot for that saturday night.

lunch is $21.95;  dinner is $31.95
both include a 3-course meal, without the price of beverages or gratuity

this is an awesome opportunity to check out that crazy expensive restaurant you've always wanted to go to, without having to wrangle all of the green to make it possible.  the participating restaurants are unknowns in terms of their acceptance towards gluterinis, so please make sure they are able to accommodate you before making a reservation, and/or check their online menus.  if you find something particularly friendly and tasty, please pass the word along to GF Chicago!

click the link above to see a list of restaurants and make a reservation online.
now it's back to the sofa and the fetal position, with a dog wedged neatly next to my belly.


taggerific. sort of.

i had no idea that you could tag someone over the internet.  sure, facebook.com provides options to slap, trip, hug and throw a sheep at someone, but tag?  no no.  and yet, i find myself after having been got.

like everything in life, there are rules.  and like most rules, i plan to bend these a little.  
the rule of 7:  
1.  i must link the tagger to my blog and list the rules;
2. i must share 7 weird bits about myself (i am a strange person.  this should not be hard.)
3. 7 new bloggerites must be tagged and must be made aware with a comment in their blog.

thanks to simply... gluten free i am sporting a red hand print from an unexpected tagging.  and now i must oblige and continue.

why i am strange, as if you needed convincing:

1.  i am wholly, completely, and utterly terrified of drains.  they are horrible and disgusting little things and if i never have to be near one again it would be too soon.  who the hell thought a disposal was a good idea?  putting knives in a drain??  what is wrong with you?!  i almost fall to the ground if a spoon gets swallowed up by your wretched, gaping, toothy hole.  i can't watch scenes in movies or tv shows where they are soaking in a tub, because that is probably my biggest fear in life -- being forced to take a bath.  you're sharing soaking water with that drain!!!  i have goose-bumps writing about it.  shudder.  showering with that blasted thing is bad enough.  

2.  while i am not an army brat, i have lived in 15 different homes, in 3 countries and 5 US states.  

3.  i was born in hong kong.

4  i tasted my dog's milkbone treat when i was little.  it wasn't bad.

5.  i wore braces, head gear, bifocal glasses, and kept an inhaler on hand throughout my childhood.  i was so skinny that stockings would bunch around my knees.  now i have food allergies.  i'm probably the coolest person you've ever met.

6.  i am an artist, junior art director and part-time blogger.

7.  i had to repeat kindergarten because i would get so completely lost in my own imagination that i failed.  they tried to explain to me why but i wasn't listening.

now that i've got my 7 oddities down, i'm supposed to tag 7 others.  here's where i have an issue -- i am new to blogging and don't really have many blogging friends to tag.  so there will be less than 7 and i will be the weakest link.  sorry guys.

el fin.

pass the chemically modified food, please?

i did a google news search this morning for "gluten" just to see what's new in the world of celiac and xanthan gum.  to my (not) surprise, about 90% of the gluten-related news articles posted in the past 24 hours were from canada, the UK, germany... almost none were from the US.  i've always known we were behind the times -- especially since not one single doctor in this great country of ours could figure out what the heck was wrong with me, and it took a stroke and luck and a move to england before i met people that knew what was up.  and weren't even phased by it.  so very unlike america at the time, and that time was only about 10 years ago.  let's get on the ball, people...

anyway, i came across an article that got me thinking.  it is from food production daily europe, where they discuss "breaking news on food processing and packaging."  hmm.  this should be interesting.  the article talks about the use of soybean and pea proteins to make GF foods that have a texture that is more like good ol' wheaty breads.  overall, the article just sounds so technical.  like we're playing scientists with our foods and seeing what happens if we mix this and that and then add this chemical here and heat it all up.  i know GF foods are becoming popular, since more and more people are being diagnosed and also as part of a health fad for those who don't even require the substitutions.  i guess it was only a matter of time before people really got serious about manufacturing the stuff.  finding ways to not just take some rice flour and some potato flour and bake, but to somehow chemically alter it.  

okay, so i know that pea and soy proteins aren't exactly chemicals, but i can't help but be concerned that we are not far off, especially as GF products are moving towards being mass-produced by major corporations.  i don't know if it's just me, but i don't necessarily mind the way GF stuff tastes.  like all foods, GF or not, some products are good and some aren't so great.  and no, GF cookies from the package may never taste exactly like the wheatfull versions, but it just doesn't bother me.  it's not like they taste bad.  they're good.  so why mess with it?  and i like the fact that small, organic, health-conscious, bigger-picture kinds of places are making the foods.  that makes me feel good too.  

but what about the other side?

mass production makes more products available in more places at prices that are more affordable for all.  but i can't imagine the "fad" bit of this GF market explosion to last for that long.  people are avoiding gluten by choice in hopes that it will help them lose weight and feel better.  while they might feel better, i'm guessing that it will not take long before they discover GF pastas, breads and cookies and suddenly weight loss goals are gone.  and so the buzz producers will be on to the next thing spawned from latest and greatest guaranteed to work diet book.  

but then where does that leave us?  the true-blue sans-gluterinis?

concern comes from these behemoths crushing those fabulous, small-production companies that actually do use all natural, all organic, non-altered ingredients.  in the monsters' wakes we might be left with less choice than we had before, and since the big guys often decrease sales #s for the little ones, the latter winds up having to raise prices on their products just keep their doors open and lights on.  

but what about awareness?

if the mondo companies do take off and begin mass-producing GF product that is low in cost and widely distributed, this could have a wonderfully educating effect on those that have never stepped foot into a specialty grocery shop.  suddenly GF isn't strange.  it's everywhere.  it's there next to the low-fat, light, sugar-free products.  can you imagine gradations of wheat-free?  perched on a shelf in that "health food" aisle will be low-wheat, reduced gluten, and no gluten added items.  my mind is zooming right now.  but the point i'm trying to make is:  giving GF life a sudden heir of normalcy might encourage more restaurants, airlines, hospitals, grocery stores to become even more accommodating than ever.  it might be nice not feeling like the others, and instead not feeling any separation at all.  feeling normal.

but i know that i do not want to be putting into my body anything that has been altered to an extreme.  and i don't find all GF pizza crusts and buns to be unpalatable.  no, they don't taste like pillsbury crescent rolls, but i don't care.  i like them for what they are and i'm okay with it.  it works for me, and personally, i'd rather remain the odd gluterini in the bunch and sacrifice the know-how of the masses when it comes to living and cooking GF, if it means that i get to keep the somewhat sacredness of the organic, whole + GF link that seems to have such a strong grip on the current range of products.  however, and then again, i know at the same time that i am extremely fortunate to be able to afford those products when i am craving them, and there are many others that just aren't in that position.  and this leaves me torn.  



that mexican revenge

last night dan and i went out to dinner.  our celebration of his new-found freedom continued from that afternoon, and about a week before he told me that he really wanted some mexican food because it had been a while.  fine.  so i did my research and found a place with a GF menu and that's where we went.

oh if i had only known.

we went to adobo grill in old town.  we arrived for our 8pm reservation and had to crash through knitted masses of people populating the bar to find the hosts' desk, which was oddly located in the middle of the ground floor level and not by the door.  fine.  we were taken to our seats right away on the top floor (it appeared to me that the place was 3 levels) and we were seated at a little table by the far wall.  fine.  we like the quiet corner.

our waiter swung by and offered some guacamole and i asked for the GF jicama chips that were listed on the GF menu and a woman pulled the guac cart over and began to make it fresh table-side.  we ordered it spicy and it was so fresh that she was slicing open whole avocados and mashing them as she went.  better than fine.  she placed that on our table in a large lava-like bowl and our waiter swooped over and left our chips.  only mine weren't chips.  they were slices of actual raw jicama.  fine.  i was actually glad for it because our guac was so spicy, and they were somewhat cooling.  the guac was good.

i ordered the vegetable enchiladas which arrived as 4 little corn-tortilla wrapped cylindars filled with butternut squash and topped with mole verde and a drizzling of cotija cheese.  these were sitting aside a small lake of soupy black beans, which had a rather distinct meaty taste.  while the restaurant in no way listed this as a vegetarian item, i had mistakenly assumed that it was one.  so fine.  my bad.

the enchiladas were okay.  definitely not a crazy-craving, must-have-again sort of dish.  and they were also not gluten free.  unless i'm coming down with something else, and i don't believe that's the case, then adobo grill really screwed up on this one.  not too long after we ate and caught a cab home, i began to get that fist-in-the-diaphragm feeling.  then my stomach began to feel so full of air i'm sure i looked like i was 5 months expecting.  then there were the sharp, pointed, little pains.  and then a night without sleep.  

i am not fine.

that is why, after a late night up, i'm up again at 7am on a sunday.  i'm feeling a bit better, and since whatever this is seems to be passing, i'm convinced that i haven't suddenly succumbed to some virus, but rather to a mistake made by the place i ate dinner last night.  i know those symptoms all-too well to be fooled at this point.  and all i have to say is that they better not have ruined my super bowl plans for this evening.

i am not happy.  i am not listing their info below.  if you dare to go, everything you need can be found on their website.  i'm returning to the fetal position in my bed now.  


chocolate chunk celebration

oh joy of joys.  i have my boyfriend back. 

for the past few months, he has been the most hard-working, self-disciplined person i've ever seen, and if i had other hyphenated descriptions that i could think of right now i'd add those in as well.  he decided not too long ago that he wanted to go back to school and pursue life on the legal side of things.  so today, on this great big saturday in february, he took his LSATs.  and then, 6 hours later, he came home.

i could feel the weight in the room had been lifted.  he's standing taller.  things are lighter.  there is less to do now and more to look forward to.

this required some celebrating and a promise kept, so i tossed some dough i had ready and waiting into the oven.  

i baked him a fresh warm batch of pamela's incredible chocolate chunk cookies.  i am a master of baking the just add this and this mix to perfection.  these are some of our favorites.  mmm.

you would never know in a million years that these are GF, so bring them to a party.  make them for your friends.  bake your significant other a treat to celebrate, or for no reason at all.  i promise you that they will love them as much as you do.

sit down for this one.

are you sitting?  i'm just going to assume that you're firmly planted in a desk chair or sofa and continue.  ready?

i cooked last night.

awwww yeah.  i cooked.  i followed a recipe and i made something.  and you know what?  it wasn't half bad when it was done.  actually, it was kind of good.  now, don't get too excited.  i decided to take it easy and chose a recipe with minimal ingredients and maximum boiling.  
as i mentioned in a recent post, i nabbed some nice jumbo shrimp from trader joe's and i had to do something with them.  i did a google blog search on gluten free girl's site for a recipe
 involving the little ocean dwellers and wound up with instructions for pasta with potatoes, zucchini and shrimp.  considering the fact that there were only 4 main ingredients (you can
 guess what they are based on the name of the dish) and my most serious responsibility would be watching things bubble in a pot, i concluded that we were full steam ahead on this one.
the ingredients (minus the lemon juice, which dan does not like):

right off the bat you'd think things were going down hill.  already, there are numerous issues.  okay, so the goat cheese looks all fine and white and crumbly like it's supposed to.  i didn't make the the cheese.  the olive oil and my already-crushed garlic and sea salt are all in fine shape.  but the shrimp are already pink and cooked and ready to go.  ah.  i bought a bag of already cooked shrimp.  well, at least i know i won't be poisoning anyone with undercooked shellfish this evening.  next issue:  are those french fries?  no.  no, they're not.  that was my attempt at making something julienne strips while wielding a dull knife in my wee kitchen.

why do i keep dull knives, you ask?  

i have all 10 of my fingers, toes, and my nose is intact.  

i am absolutely convinced this is why, as i suffer from knife tourrets while slicing and dicing.  so, those potatoes are a tad on the hefty side.  i want to let it be known that this was my second attempt at julienne-ing anything, and it came after the creation of those mini shaved whatsits of zucchini that should have been expertly sliced into delectable little niblets.  

note to self:  cheese graters don't julienne anything.  

another valuable kitchen lesson learned.  anyway, after preparing my ingredients and laying them out oh-so nicely in my fine tupperware for a photoshoot, i got to work.  i successfully boiled water.  added salt.  cooked the veggies and pasta and then mixed the whole lot of everything together per GFG's recipe.  i scooped a big portion for dan and crumbled some wonderfully creamy goat cheese on top.  it smelled good.  it tasted better.

 i was quite pleased with myself.  not pleased with the mess i had made or the cement-like starchy pasta water that had boiled all over my stove, but it was a personal victory.  i kept my little recipe print-out and i plan on making it again some time, only next time i might switch out the potatoes for more (properly cut) zucchini or onions or something.  it's just a smidge too starchy for me as is.  but that didn't stop me from having an extra scoop of victory.  nosiree.  

victory is tasty.


na zdorovia

dan is a ______ski.  by this i mean that he's polish.  and he's into it.  he named his dog stanislaw and eats pierogies at least one night per week.  he sneaks some pierogies to stanislaw at least one night per week and i can always tell he's guilty of spoiling the pup because there's the inevitable blue cloud that hangs over good ol' stan about 20 minutes after the treating.  stanislaw's love for the foods of his heritage has been known to drive him to hunt down a fresh pierogie box after it's been tossed in the "no!  naughty dog!" zone (the garbage).

if you look closely enough at the photo of stanley after a successful stalking, you'll notice that the dumplings are not, in fact, polish.  they're russian.  (good thing stan can't read!)  but potato dumplings are potato dumplings, right?  i don't know.  don't ask me.  i can't remember ever eating any.  but the reason i bring this up is because dan had his heart set on finding a place that could serve him up some nice, fresh homemade pierogies for his birthday.  as it turned out, there was a little russian restaurant right in our neighborhood, so i made a reservation and we went.

the place is called russian tea time.  i've walked passed it on numerous occasions and have only seen a significantly, er, wiser set exiting through its doors.  a peek in through the windows revealed large tucked leather booths and old-fashioned gold chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.  this should be interesting.  i was actually looking forward to it.

on that snowy birthday evening we trudged out way towards that little awning-ed entry way that sits right across the street from the grand art museum.  we heaved the heavy, dark wood doors open and went inside.  

maroon and gold.  everything was maroon and gold.  and dark wood.  

i felt like i was back at boston college, staring at the colors of my alma mater... at my 50th reunion.  it felt old in there but it had a really cool sort-of original vibe to it.  it felt like the way it should feel when you walk in to a traditional, old-country russian restaurant.  in direct contrast to the decor was the clientele.  there were bunched up groups of late 20- and 30-somethings enjoying some steaming teas in glass and metal mugs and vodka flights.  i glanced at the menu and saw more types of vodka than i never knew existed in the world.  we opted for a bottle of wine from their list of russian varieties to keep with the theme for the evening.  it was too sweet for my taste, but i didn't mind.  if you're going to theme out the night you've got to go all the way.

dan got a pierogie sampling as an appetizer.  he said they were tasty.  the menu was full of rich meats and hearty dishes, and they had some interesting vegetarian options as well.  i asked our heavily-accented waitress if she knew if any of the veggie items wheat free (thought maybe i should feel this situation out before dropping the gluten bomb on her).  to my wonderful surprise, she knew exactly what i was asking.  her hand darted across my menu and she pointed out a few veg options that she knew were safe.  it was pretty awesome.  there was no running into the kitchen to ask.  there was no meeting with the chef to explain.  i was met with no tilted head and funny look.  she just knew.  and it was easy.

i wound up ordering the vegetarian stuffed eggplant, which came as 2 purple halves filled with a tomato sauce-ish sauce that was so good and something i had never had before.  that was mixed with sauteed celery, turnips, onions and peppers, and all of this came lying on a cloud of rice with traditional carrot salad on the side.  oh it was so good.  i've been looking for a recipe online that will take less than 4 hours to make and is on a kindergarten level for those of us that are still unable to play with the big kids.  i want to go back just for this dish, and as obligated as i feel to try something new and post those findings right here on this blog...

sorry kids.  ain't gonna happen.   

if you're craving a hearty supper during these snow-stormy days, and are perhaps out for something new and little, well, russian, this place is a definite go.  and if you find yourself in one of those maroon booths with a non-glutie, recommend the pierogies for dan's (and stanislaw's) sake.