There are a few things that I promised Husband I would never do. Among them are: 1) Forget to file taxes for years on end 2) Wear an “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt 3) Buy a pet cow and name it Dinner 4) Lobby to get a holiday named after myself and 5) Go to Las Vegas.
Most of these seem self explanatory, but I think the Vegas one needs a little clarification.
You see, I’m competitive. I will compete with anyone over anything. So much so that I’ve been known to race people across the street and upon reaching the other side doing my own victory dance that resembles a Rocky vs Carlton mash-up. (Husband wants me to confess that more often than not, the people I’m racing don’t know they’re in a race. I don’t think that should matter as long as I win.) My incredible need to win extends to inanimate objects as well. It’s not usual for me to yell at TV game shows, or Mario when I don’t think he tried hard enough to jump over a Koopatroopa. So thinking this logic through, it’s a really bad idea to put me into a casino. If it’s not the dealer I need to beat, it’s going to be the slot machine. And since I tend not to quit until I can scream the word “pwned” at the top of lungs, chances are I would end up being forced to leave because my accumulated debt is too big for even Trump to get himself out of.
And now you know why I can’t go to Vegas. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t, or aren’t going to!
And while you’re there, you’re going to want to check out Upper Crust, a wicked new GF bakery. At least, it promises to be wicked because it’s backed by none other than the one and only GF Patisserie. Upper Crust is the first International license from our friends at GF Patisserie. Essentially, they provide the same fantastic GF goodies, just in Las Vegas not Calgary!
As of yet there is no published opening date, but progress is being made. Keep checking the website for updates.
GF Vegas baby!
(Thank you to Celiac Husband for the heads up on this bakery)
It’s summer time y’all.
And for me that means two things: a break from school and lots of good food.
To start off the summer right I want to talk about hamburgers – about the kind you make and the kind you buy.
First, the kind you make. Everyone has their favourite burger patty recipe. And I’m sure we could spend the next three months just talking about that. And since (as it comes to no surprise to all of you) that I don’t make my own, what I’m going to talk about is the bun. A bad GF bun can and will ruin the burger no matter how good it is.
Husband and I were shopping at Whole Paycheck Foods last week and came across Udi’s hamburger buns. At first I wasn’t all that excited because I’ve only found one hamburger bun I liked. ~cough GF Patisserie cough~ That being said, how was I going to be the one to turn down an opportunity to try something new. I mean, it’s not much of a blog if I don’t put myself and my taste buds out there right?!
So we went for it, and as soon as we got home I decided to make some turkey burgers. (actually Trader Joe’s made the burgers, I just thawed them and put them in the pan) When all was said and done, it was time to try it all together. And guess what people, I was really impressed! They were great. They were perfectly sized, they didn’t compete with the burger patty or the millions of toppings that I put on it. And best of all, they didn’t crumble, which means getting to eat my burger WITHOUT a fork and a knife. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most!
If you’re unable to find Udi’s in your neck of the woods, try THIS link. It may be of some use.
After all the work of heating up our own pre-made burgers, we moved on to eating burgers completely made by others.
In the last few weeks there has been a lot of talk around DC about this place called Shake Shack. It’s a burger joint with it’s own little schtic; they keep it simple with burgers and hot dogs and fries, oh and milkshakes. After a quick google search we discovered that they had GF options. And I was really excited to learn that they took it seriously and that they knew what the challenges are for people like us.
From the menu, I chose a cheese burger with lettuce and tomatoes – no bun. Husband had a double cheeseburger with the works. For those that are wondering, Shake Shake offers a wide range of milkshakes that are GF, and for a list of the ones that aren’t, just go to their webesite(or you can ask someone that works there – they know what they’re doing). I chose to forgo the milkshake because of that whole lactose intolerant thing, but if any of you have tried one, please let us know what you thought.
And there is some caution to be had with the fries. On their own they are gluten-free and they are cooked in a separate oil from other things. However, at the end of every night the different oils are cleaned together, which means there is potential for a little cross-contamination. I don’t chance that kind of stuff because I suck and my body will tell me when the smallest piece of gluten is in my food. So if you’ve tried the fries and havent had an issue (or have tried them and have) please let us know your thoughts.
Okay, with all that being said, I’m sure you want to know if it was any good. And it was, it was one of the best fast food burgers I’ve had in a long time. It wasn’t greasy, it had flavour and the toppings were fresh, very fresh. The best part, was that all of their condiments were Heinz and GF. Hell ya. (Shake Shack is located is the US only, sorry Canada, I still love you. Please keep it on the list for when you travel!)
It’s happy summer time everyone. So get your burger on!
Warning: This is a rant.
This post is a rant and nothing but a rant – so if you’re looking for product information and witty stories about Husband then please move on to the next post.
I was hesitant at first to write this because Glutastic is the place I go to laugh about my life. But this rant isn’t about the funny, it’s about my frustration. But it’s a frustration I’m sure some of you have so I figured it wouldn’t be fair to leave this out.
This last week has been a challenging one. I’m good with challenge, I thrive in challenge, but I don’t do well with challenge brought on by the ignorance of others. And the straw that broke me this week was a GF cookie.
So here’s the deal: Husband and I live and work from home, which means 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week in the same place. We’ve done well with the ‘togetherness’ of it all, but sometimes we loose our minds over having to be in one place all the time. As a way to mix things up we usually go to Northside Social at least once or twice a week. It’s a really nice coffee shop/wine bar near campus. We really like it there. It’s become our office away from the office. Sometime ago they started selling GF cookies. After having a conversation or two with some the staff, I managed to teach them the ins and outs of cross contamination at the counter when serving the cookies. They were really receptive to it and I was elated.
At least, I was elated until last week when the manager of the coffee shop told me that they really don’t make an effort to avoid cross contamination in the kitchen when they make them. They call them gluten free because they don’t knowingly bake them with gluten in them but that’s as far as their care and concern really goes. True to fashion, the first thing out of my mouth was “what the hell”. In all the conversations I had with staff before this point, they never made an effort to tell me these things. Turns out that they only mean to sell them to people who have chosen to go gluten free as a lifestyle choice. Again, the first thing out of my mouth was “what the hell” – why wouldn’t they be as clear and transparent as possible about this? Why wouldn’t they care what the possible issues are with taking this less then seriously.
And then I found out – Gluten Free is a fad.
It’s a fad that is putting my health in danger.
Gluten Free has become a ‘thing’ that people are choosing not because they have to, but because it sounds like the fashionably healthy thing to do. The bonus of this: it’s increasing the market demand and it’s putting pressure on companies to produce gluten free. The Pitfall: it’s degrading the industry and turning our disease into a fad. Instead of catering to the disease, companies are catering to the fad which means that their products are dangerous to us. The fad doesn’t care about cross contamination, the fad doesn’t care if some of the products aren’t fully gluten free – the fad doesn’t care that their lifestyle choices put the rest of us in danger.
And this is where the tipping point comes for me – I now have to be wary of everything and anything labeled Gluten Free. I have to ask more questions then I use to, I have to read labels looking for things that I never thought to look for before, and worst of all, when I find out that the GF product or menu is meant for the “lifestyle people” I have to go without and the company gets to keep selling products and making money.
I’d like to send out a huge shout out to the ‘lifestyle’ people. I’d like to say thank you for taking your ‘flash in the pan’ choices and using them in ways that make my disease more dangerous to me then it ever has been before. Thank you for playing roulette with my health and thank you for saturating the market with your crap. On behalf of Celiacs everywhere, I’d like to thank you for helping breed a new generation of food providers who are willing to take chances with me so that they can sell something to you.
If you’re curious how far this issue goes, here’s an article that sheds a little light on it. Got to love this chef, because I’m sure he’s not the only one.
Ha, do you know what just happened?
My Mom read that title and thought that I was going to talk about pubs and other assorted drinking holes.
But don’t worry mom the point of this post is bars, of the cereal and snack kind.
I try really hard to make sure that I have a snack bar on me at all times. You never know when you might get stuck in a situation where there is nothing to eat, or when a sudden hunger crash will take you down. Having something on hand just makes life a little easier.
GF snack bars can be completely hit or miss and that’s why I took on a bit of a challenge when I started looking for one that I wouldn’t mind eating. So here are the ones that I chose and as always, here are my unedited opinions on them.
These were…um…interesting. They were a little dry, but definitely chewy, and not in a bad way, but not in the way I thought they would be. The chocolate flavour reminded me of how those powdered chocolate shakes taste – like chocolate and chalk ground up together. The pluses of the chewy bar: perfect size for a snack, tastes good enough. Minuses of the chewy bar: a little lacking on moisture, and not as chocolaty as they could be.
Verdict: Just alright.
I was excited about these ones. I really really wanted them to taste like Nutrigrain bars. And, well, I guess they were close enough – okay, maybe not enough at all. BUT, for gluten free, I’ll give them some credit. The blueberry filling was tasty, so that’s a plus. The outside however was DRY and every time I ate one I really needed something to drink. These bars will give you a bit of dry mouth.
Verdict: Good enough if need be.
3. Bakery on Main Granola Bars
I like this company and these granola bars are no exception. They are chewy and taste good. Really the only thing I have to say to the negative is that they can get a little sticky and that means having to pick at your teeth. I think it’s a small price to pay!
Verdict: I’ve already purchased more.
Hello to you Kind. I tried a couple different flavour combos of these bars and I loved all of them. They were filling, flavourful, and just awesome. Of all four bars these are my favourite. They aren’t the easiest to find but when I do, stocking up is the name of the game. AND they’re dairy free which is awesome for those of us that are lactose intolerant.
Verdict: Can I get a Hell Ya!!
Having an erratic schedule and a random life means that I don’t always know when and where my next meal is going to come. Having a snack bar in my bag makes me feel just a little more comfortable. I definitely found my favourites but all in all, any of them will do and that’s a great thing for Celiacs!
I’m sure I’m late to this party because I’ve heard people talking about Udi’s for sometime. So if you’ve already tried it and formed your opinion, then…well… it’s your choice to keep reading or not.
When the grocery store near us started carrying Udi’s Sandwich Breads, Husband decided it was time we took a break from baking our own to start trying this frozen stuff. I was skeptical because not only was it frozen, but it looked to good to taste normal. I hate that about GF foods sometimes, they look really normal, they look like their non-GF counterparts, and then you get all excited and try a piece and BAM, it tastes like sandpaper.
Promsing myself I’d keep an open mind, I immediately dug right in for the two pass or fail tests of GF bread: grilled cheese and french toast. Because if the bread can’t hold up against those two things, then I’m simply not going to eat it.
I started with grilled cheese. And I have to say that for the most part, I was impressed. It toasted well, it held together and it didn’t fall apart when I dragged it through the pile of ketchup on my plate. My only real sticking point with it, is that it toasted a little dry, and by that I mean crunchy. Wow, here I go again with my amazing ability to use descriptive words ~ never claimed to be good at this ~
The next morning I decided to jump right in to the next test of bread worthiness – french toast. I was seriously impressed with the bread, mostly because it passed the first step of dunking it in the egg mixture. This is the point where GF bread normally just falls apart, and it didn’t do that.
Hurray kids, it made it to the pan.
The bread did good in the pan, it toasted up well. When it was all said and done, it wasn’t half bad. It was a little dry, but not horrible. We normally use a double dunk technique, but when we tried with this bread it just became too soggy, so we had to choose between a little dry or a lot soggy. A little dry for the win.
So here’s the deal: Udi’s White Sandwich Bread passes the tests. We’ve had it around ever since. It doesn’t compare to the smell of bread baking in the machine, but it is far easier and comes with a zero chance of fire.
We found Udi’s at Harris Teeter but I know that it’s sold in a million other places. Here’s a store locater thingy if you need one.
Okay, I’m going to talk about Christmas again. I know, Christmas was like so last year, but I’m nostalgic like that.
I want to talk about Mice and Snowmen – the edible kind.
Every year, Husband and I have a Boxing Day party. (If my non-Canadian readers are curious what that is – google it and fall in love with Canada) We started this tradition a few years ago as a way to see all of our friends at least once on the holidays. We’re at the age where everyone has to split their time between in-laws, and a few of of our smartest friends have traded domesticity for student life in far off lands and they only come back at Christmas. It just seemed like the most logical way to get everyone in the same room together.
Since Boxing Day is right after Christamas, we decided that out party was going to include our version of a classy holiday dinner. So, we serve Turkey Sandwiches on Wonder Bread, and novelty deserts. (I eat my sandwich on GF Patisserie Sandwich bread, because it’s awesome.) This annual shindig has been affectionately names the Tiny Turkey Party, mostly because we cook the smallest, most decrepit turkey we can find – you know, the one that is left at the bottom of the bin after all the other turkeys were bought for Christmas dinner. We think those turkeys deserve some love as well.
This year, since we’re homeless in Canada, we held the party at my parents house. Now, I need you to know one thing right now – my Mom is like this domestic goddess. So this year, I decided to take some chances because I knew she’d be there to bail me out when I managed to mess things up! And as you all know, it’s inevitable that I will.
And this is how we got to the Mice. Completely edible and completely GF Mice.
Here’s a picture so that you stop judging me and keep reading:
Okay, so now you’re curious about how I made these completely GF. It was actually easier than you think. The base, NOT an Oreo, it’s a GF Glutino cookie. The face, is a Hershey Kiss, the body is a cherry dipped in chocolate (hence the tail), the ears are almond slivers and the eyes are GF decorating gel that I found at Superstore.
It was as simple as dipping the body in chocolate, attaching the head and ears and then putting the whole thing on the cookie. The best part about these Mice – watching people try to eat them. It actually turned into a competition to see who could come up with the most effective way of eating the mouse. Extra points were given to those who could do it in one bite.
The Snowmen were also an experiment in classy GF holiday goodies. Husband and I made these – my Mom was not there to supervise. And, well, you can tell. Here’s a picture:
Okay, in our defense, these sounded so much easier than they actually were. It was just icing sugar, mint extract, and soy milk. Mix it all together to make a dough, form into balls and decorate like Snowmen. For some reason, it didn’t turn out like that for us. That being said, we aren’t ones to give up on things so we carried on did the best we could with what we had. We also decided to take them to the next level by creating characters. Can you point out Liberace, the Generals, the Emo Hipster and the confused DJ? See, that’s called distraction, and it works in so many ways!
I’d like to thank my parents for allowing us to take over their house, my Mom for supervising, my cousin for helping with the mice, and our friends for eating whatever we put in front of them – you’re all troopers to me.
It’s no secret, we’re on a budget. Actually, we’re living the high life of student poverty. Between the cost of living, the cost of tuition and books, and my inability to work in the US, Husband and I are left with pennies at the end of every month. I don’t have a single complaint. Actually, I love it. We’re happier now then we ever were as a duel income family.
There are a few things that have to go by the side of the road when you’re on a budget, and for us, one of those things is spices. While not the most expensive thing on the shelf, they are always the first thing to be cut. GF eating is not cheap and since my loaf of bread is the equivalent of two nice steaks, we often have to choose between quantity and flavour.
Well people, I’m here to tell you that Santa Clause is alive and well. He answers prayers and he rewards good behaviour. I know this because this Christmas Santa delivered Husband and I spices. Picture this, two grown adults almost in tears over Cinnamon. It happened, and we’re not ashamed.
Santa, who knows everything, knew that we didn’t have the budget for frivolity so he went to The Silk Road Spice Merchant’s and stocked us up. ALL gluten-free we received: Chili Powder, Thai Green Curry Powder, Spiced Vanilla Sugar, Pumpkin Pie Spice, West-African Citrus Spice, Poultry Stuffing Blend, and Indonesian Korintje Cassia Cinnamon. We are in flavour country. Dinner has never tasted so damn good. Santa found Silk Road at the Calgary Farmers Market before it closed down. So now you need to go to Ramsey, to get your spice on. And trust me, it’s worth it. There is nothing like fresh spices. You use less, you taste more and you support the local industry in Calgary that supports GF living.
If you’re not sure what to choose from I highly suggest the Spiced Vanilla Sugar, it has transformed our culinary world. And if you’re a chili eating machine like Husband, definitely get the Chili spice. It’s so flavourful that you only need to open it to know that you’re about to be transferred to a new level.
Thank you Silk Road and thank you Santa. I promise to be extra good this year so that next Christmas I can look forward to another stocking full of spice.
33 whole days.
That’s how long I was in YYC over the holidays. And trust me, I took every opportunity I had to eat my way through the city.
Up to the point of arrival, I hadn’t set foot in Calgary in a year. I was excited, I was nervous, I was about to be very cold. Within minutes of getting off the plane and hugging my mom I became two things – two things that would stay with me until I left. I became stupid and I became hungry.
My brain collapsed. A full year of graduate school, writing, reading, analyzing, working, networking and pretending like I know what I’m doing, all came crashing down. It was a full system failure complete with light switch rave. If you’re unfamiliar with my reference, please turn up the speakers on your computer then click here.
I also suddenly felt the urge to eat. I think my intestines realized that they were no longer in danger of poisoning from poorly labeled and poorly regulated US gluten free foods. Trust me people, the labeling and the standards in Canada are far stricter than they are here. And in many ways you should be grateful.
A few short days after landing, it suddenly occurred to me that our first wedding anniversary was happening. Two things about this anniversary: First, I call it our wedding anniversary not just our anniversary because we celebrate two anniversaries. We celebrate the anniversary of our first date and we celebrate our wedding anniversary. I want credit for time served and think that having to start at one when we get married is unfair to the two’ish years we were together before that. Second, I realize I haven’t really blogged about the wedding and the food and the cake and all those things that everyone wants to know about. This is on purpose. I’ve sat down to do it many times and I just can’t seem to finish it. I don’t know why. But I’m going to stop trying. If any of you are getting married and want GF advice please just email me. I’ll help however I can even if I can’t muster up the words to do it in a blog.
Okay so now back to the point of this blog post.
For our wedding anniversary we decided to head downtown (our favourite place in Calgary) and try out a new restaurant. After hearing about it from friends we decided to go to CHARCUT. I have one thing to say about the experience: Hell To The Ya!
Drinks: Original and Creative.
Knowledge and Execution: Divine.
I’m going to rip off their website to describe what the menu is like:
In creating menus, our goal is to continue to evolve simple ingredients. Ingredients are sourced from small, local artisan farmers and ranchers, with herbs harvested daily from our own garden, minimizing the miles food travels. We like to know the first names of the people whose products we serve.
What this boils down to is amazing gluten free options. They know what’s in their food and they know what shouldn’t be in their food. They even have GF bread so you don’t have to miss out on some of the best items. If you have the chance, you need to try the Burger CHARCUT style. It’s made with house sausage and it sounds weird but it’s amazing.
Husband and I talked about our meal and talked about our anniversary for days. I also talked about the non-ketchup they have. They don’t have ketchup like you and I know it, they make their own version of ketchup like sauce. Again, it sounds a little off but it’s damn tasty.
People, GO TO CHARCUT, love it, tell all your friends and then thank me later!
My ribs hurt.
So here’s the deal:
I have this totally awesome family. We might not be the most well adjusted people, but we’re fantastic, and just recently, we all got together for 4 days of bonding. There were many highlights of the trip, like watching my niece kill it on the basketball court, watching the twins compete for the most scars and bruises in a 48 hour time frame, and watching our other niece school us at video games – she’s 4. I also thought it was completely wonderful to watch my parents pat themselves on the back for not having raised any convicted criminals, liberal artists or impressionist painters.
What they did do however, was give birth to a Celiac. And for this, the whole family has suffered. That being said, they are wonderful and they do their best to accommodate me. (My sister-in law gets a special shout out for making sure there were snacks around that I could eat.) And it was this desire to accommodate me that lead to a wonderful discovery – Caprese Ristorante Italiano.
Okay, here’s the deal with Caprese, it’s 100% gluten free. Do you need a minute to think about that? Maybe you should take a deep breath. 100% GLUTEN FREE.
And aside from that, it’s damn good. Everyone in the family ate like kings. From the wine to the dessert, and everything in between, it was amazing. To start they bring you bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Now just think about that for a second, when was the last time you had GF bread that didn’t fall apart the second it was dipped into something? This bread was awesome, it held it’s shape, it was fluffy and it had the best crust.
After that, Husband and I shared the gnocchi. I think I actually cried on the first bite. Not only was it just perfection, but I got to share with someone and not have to worry about cross contaminating forks. I think I ate more than Husband simply because I threw an elbow or two when he tried to dig in too much. Many others had starters and I heard nothing but sighs of joy. Sighs of joy from the Gluten Eaters, now that’s an accomplishment.
The main course(s) did not disappoint. Actually, they only made things that much more amazing. I had a great chicken dish that came with breaded chicken, brie cheese, a sauce that I can still taste when I’m dreaming and some veg. Husband had Cacciatore, and the rest of the group had everything from fish, to stuffed chicken and spaghetti. Would you believe that the whole table went silent for almost 15 minutes? We were too busy eating to bother talking to one another. And trust me, we’re a family of talkers so this was a big deal.
After the main course (and all of us having at least one appetizer) the question came – dessert or no dessert? Once the choices were given to us, the decision was easy – we had dessert. Mom and I shared cheesecake, my siblings had creme caramel and the kids (including Husband) had Angel Food cake with an ice cream center. Oh yes, you read that right, inside your slice of angel food cake is a big scoop of ice cream – it’s not on top, it’s not underneath, it’s in the damn piece. Genius. The cheese cake was good, I’m sure on a normal day I’d be raving about it, but on this day, it was simply okay in comparison to the rest. The angel food cake, well that was just simply a creation of my dreams. The creme caramel – oh my, that was a fan favourite. My nephew was actually vibrating over it. I think at one point, he reached out from his high chair and grabbed the spoon right from my sisters hand. We all agreed with the little man that it was worth it – no piece left behind.
Other things we loved about Caprese: dinner was served on warm plates and dessert on cold ones. The service was impeccable, I’m actually at a loss for words. The chef deserves a standing ovation. I actually got to thank him personally and if I didn’t have personal space issues I would have hugged the guy.
If you find yourself in Ottawa, this is the place you need to go to. Actually, no, you need to put this on your list of things to do in 2011, because your life will never be the same after.
(I’m sorry, it just occurred to me that a number of you are sending me strongly worded emails right now because I waited so long to tell you Caprese is in Ottawa…which is probably not where you are. Sorry – but I wanted you to know about this before you judged it for being in Ottawa.)
To the owner Luigi Paravan and his staff at Caprese, I say thank you, and we will see you soon.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to say and how I want to say it, and all I can come up with is:
KEEP DISNEYLAND ALIVE
The biggest gift I was given as a Celiac is GF Patisserie in Cochrane Alberta Canada. Run by the most dedicated ladies in the world. GF Patisserie has become my life staple, actually it’s my Disneyland. It’s where I go for fantastic bread and wonderful treats. It’s actually where I go for not only my birthday cake but for my family’s cakes as well. It’s where I go to be normal again, to feel like I’m being given the biggest GF hug; frankly, it’s where I go to feel good about myself.
And now it’s for sale.
~Pause for reflection~
Okay, now that you’ve adjusted to the news, it’s time to think about the future. There is going to be a large changing of the guard and I want to make sure that the guard is worthy.
So, if you or anyone you know, has a passion for GF baking and would like to know more about how to be part of GF Disneyland CLICK HERE.
But, and this is a big one, you must be prepared to make me GF Naniamo Bars every Christmas. This is not a request, this is a demand. The ladies of GF Patisserie have perfected the Naniamo bar and I ask Santa for them every year. And trust me, you wouldn’t want to stand between me and Santa.