Here we are, halfway through February, just a little more than a month away from spring. Weâ€™ve only had a little bit of snow here in New England, but enough for the snow goons to make their presence known. â€œWho are the snow goons?â€, you ask. I will share a little bit of personal information with you. I think it might make you smile. It helps me get through the long, cold winters, knowing that the snow goons will visit whenever the flakes accumulate and leave enough on the ground for them to play in.
After any amount of decent snow fall, I look out my bedroom window. And there, embedded in the clean, white usually packed snow, I see something that looks vaguely like footprints, but my eye is more focused on the words that are spelled in the snow. My sweet husbandâ€™s name. My name. Though we didnâ€™t meet each other until both of us were nearly 40 years old, I imagine we mightâ€™ve been high school sweethearts. And I pretend that my adolescent boyfriend stamped our names in the newly fallen snow, with a heart, maybe an arrow to mark the spot and publicly declare our love. Thatâ€™s what I see when I look out at my window, after newly fallen snow has settled into the nooks and crannies of our backyard. Snow goons. Thatâ€™s what my husband tells me. Itâ€™s like Valentineâ€™s Day each time it happens.
And this sweet husband of mine â€“ why else do I bring him up? For many reasons. But tonight, one of the reasons I bring him up is because I think a friend of mine might read this blog entry. And maybe my words will help persuade her that she needs to elicit her familyâ€™s help. She has fallen off the Celiac wagon, once again. Diagnosed about 6 or 7 years ago, she just cannot seem to remain compliant. She advised me, when I was diagnosed a short 15 months ago. She helped me navigate through the endless maze of questions I had. She endured my endless phone calls, made during my frequent visits to Whole Foods. Are potato chips gluten free? How about bread? Which kind should I buy? What about spices? What about dried fruit? What about this? What about that?
She began taking probiotics about 6 months ago and within a short time, felt enormously better. And once she began feeling better, it was a slippery slope into eating gluten again. A little bit here and there never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. It caught up with her and before too long, all the old familiar symptoms returned with a vengeance. They say it can take months to heal after a gluten hit, especially when youâ€™ve been compliant. I donâ€™t know exactly how compliant sheâ€™d been, but she really fell off the wagon big time and now is paying the price.
Today, when we spoke, I asked her whether she thought it was difficult to be compliant in a house where others eat gluten and where she has to cook with gluten. Iâ€™m not at all suggesting that every household with a Celiac should be completely gluten free. I wouldnâ€™t go that far. I only know what works for me. But I think with her tendency to slip and go back to her old ways, she would benefit enormously if her family would join her in being gluten free, at least in the house. Some of her pitfalls? She and her husband entertain a lot. They have frequent gatherings where people bring food to the house and/or she cooks. They go out to eat with their friends a lot. Not infrequently to Italian restaurants. She used to bring her own pasta. Not any more. She got tired of the drill. Itâ€™s just easier to eat what everyone else eats. She wouldnâ€™t dare subject anyone who she cooks for (family or guests) to eat gluten free. Why should they suffer?
I only hope she will reconsider. Those of us who do enough reading on the subject know that cheating will come back to haunt you. Maybe not immediately, but someday. Who knows what other auto-immune diseases youâ€™re inviting into your life? Why would you play with fire? There are so many great options, especially if you like to cook (and she does). And if you care enough about your health and you want to set a good example to your children, you will return to being vigilant about what you eat.
I brought up my sweet husband because after my endoscopy (confirming Celiac), he insisted that our house be entirely gluten free. And after about four months of watching me watch him eat those hamburgers on wheat buns and him not having to ask any questions at restaurants, he decided to join me. I canâ€™t even begin to tell you how wonderful it is that he is gluten free also. It means he doesnâ€™t have to brush his teeth to kiss me, wondering whether he ate gluten prior to our lips touching. It means we can eat off each othersâ€™ plates at restaurants, something he used to yell at me for but then found he missed once I couldnâ€™t eat from his gluten filled entrees. It means he feels better â€“ he lost 10 pounds and has no more indigestion and rarely has headaches. Itâ€™s been a win-win situation for both of us. Plus he can totally sympathize and understand what itâ€™s like from my end of the menu! I donâ€™t know if I wouldâ€™ve asked him to do it, maybe I wouldâ€™ve. But I sure am glad he figured it out on his own and made that decision to join me. Makes me feel so supported, itâ€™s beyond my ability to describe it.
Ok. Iâ€™ll get off my soapbox. If youâ€™re reading this, just know that I care.
This past week I cooked up a storm. Here are some of the things I made:
This soup was delicious and reheated beautifully two days later, as did the Pad Thai. I found the recipe at http://www.Vietworldkitchen.com
I went to BJâ€™s (wholesale club market) with a friend and bought two pounds of scrod. Decided to make Mexican Fish Stew â€“ I got the recipe from Martha Rose Shulmanâ€™s website â€“ Iâ€™ve been a fan of her cookbooks for years. Served it with homemade Corn bread with fresh (well, actually frozen) corn kernals and jalapeno peppers. Delicious!
Huevas Rancheros With Cornbread
The finishing touch was tonightâ€™s dessert. Homemade chocolate cookies. But not any olâ€™ chocolate cookies. These were Balsamic Fudge Drops which I got from the Habeus Brulee blog which in turn got them from Alice Medrich. I don’t know much about Alice Medrich, but if these cookies are any indication, I am definitely going to read everything she’s ever written.
Balsamic Fudge Drops
Balsamic Fudge Drops
I think the recipe made about 18 cookies.
1 cup gluten free flour of your choice (I used Annalise Roberts Brown Rice Flour mix)
Â½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon SALT
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
Â½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (I used light brown)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Vanilla sugar (see note)
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it is all melted and sizzpling, remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder, and then both sugars. And then the yogurt, vanilla, and balsamic vinegar. Once that is mixed together nicely, add the flour mixture and stir it just until it is fully incorporated, trying not to overmix.
Measure out tablespoons of the dough about 1 Â½â€ apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle vanilla sugar on top. Bake for about 11 mjinutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.
When the cookies come out, they will look somewhat crackled on top, and terrifyingly soft. You will probably be convinced they are not yet done. Take them out anyway. Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a rack to cool â€“ the cookies will harden as they cool, and then you will be able to remove them from the parchment paper.
Note: To make vanilla sugar, mix sugar and inside scraped flesh from one vanilla bean in your food processor. Sift to remove any big chunks. To use the vanilla bean, make a slice from top to bottom with a sharp paring knife, as if youâ€™re opening it to see what is inside. Then take the blade of your knife and slide it from the top down to the bottom, dragging the inside pulp out of the vanilla bean and then putting it into the food processor.
So, long post. Lots of yummy food. Lots of cooking. Thatâ€™s what I do. In order for me to stay safe, Iâ€™ve needed to learn to eat at home. We go out periodically, especially when we travel out of town. But when weâ€™re home, we eat home. And I have to say, I ainâ€™t looking back at all. I feel good and on my way back to mending my health, after many years of stomach aches and who knows what else. Iâ€™m doing what my friend told me when she first advised me â€“ itâ€™s not a death sentence â€“ you can do it and eat well. So, right back at you girlfriend. Make it work, youâ€™re worth it!