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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)
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.
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!
In my gluten eating life I had never once tried making lasagna. So it made perfect sense to try it in my Gluten Free/Dairy Free life.
Because I’m here for your entertainment. You’re welcome.
So this is how it went down:
1. Buy GF lasagna noodles.
2. Google what to do.
3. Send Husband to buy the ingredients.
The whole time I was attempting this culinary feat, all I could do was sing the Adam Lambert song Whataya Want From Me.
Pausing for a moment so you can judge my musical choice.
Let’s talk noodles:
Timkyada Pasta Joy Ready Lasagne Rice Noodles were the ones I chose. I’ve had many different Timkayada rice noodles before and I like them. These however, didn’t like me. The package was clear on what to do and we paid attention – we were almost clinical about it. And here’s what happened:
Yup, a clump of shredded noodles. But I figured I could hide under this mess under the meat sauce so I wasn’t too concerned. I must say, that aside from the impossibility of them turning out as whole strips, they actually tasted good. Not to heavy not too starchy and not crunchy.
Out of a can added vegetable and meat. Nothing new or fancy here. If you want homemade pasta sauce recipes, why would you bother to look read this website?
We went with an assortment of Lactose Free Gluten Free cheese. Nothing special just the stuff you find in every grocery store. But here is where it went a little wrong – we ran out. So we resorted to GF/LF cheese slices. And why are they two different colours you ask? Because for some unknown reason they have both cheddar and American cheese here. It looks almost the same, it sure tastes exactly the same, but it’s not the same. Turns out that we had two different packages in the fridge and ended up with a mosaic top. We decided to embrace it and take joy in the art we had created!
The end result:
The most random, concoction of cheese, meat, sauce and noodles. I really should have just made pasta and thrown sauce on it because there was nothing lasagna-esq about it when we were done! Husband, the good man he is said it was amazing. He also has to live with me, so unless there is a life threatening situation, he knows better than to tell me that anything tastes less than awesome. Bless him and our marriage.
And with that, I leave you with insight from Mr. Lambert:
Just don’t give up, I’m working it out, please don’t give in, I won’t let to let you down. Give me a second to breath, just keep coming around. Whataya want from me.
In the event that my subtlety is lost on you, here is reason #735.8 that GF Patisserie is the alter we worship at.
Reason #735.8: Long distance cakes.
Being an Aunt is the most amazing job I’ve ever had. Being an Aunt means I get all the great things about being a parent while skipping over everything else. Husband and I get to teach our kids (as we call them) stupid human tricks, we get to take them places their parents won’t, we get to act like morons in the name of entertainment and we get to celebrate their life moments without having to pay the bill. And most importantly, we get to hand them back when we’re too tired to deal. Husband and I have 3 nieces and 2 nephews that are truly superior to everyone else and their nieces and nephews. (insert gagging Hallmark face here)
One of my favourite Aunt responsibilities is making my niece Elle her birthday cake every year. I don’t know how this started, it just did and I take my job seriously. Elle is not a Celiac, but because I am, and I love cake, I always make her a GF cake. Some people might be thinking that this is a bit selfish, but I’m really just looking out for her – I wouldn’t want her to think that her Aunt hates cake. That would just be traumatic. (yes, logically that argument is flawed – but it’s my life and my blog and I say it works.)
This year, things were going to be a little different. No matter how hard I tried, there was no way to mail a GF cake over 1200 km’s and across the boarder. Not being one to give up I thought that I’d just go the cop out route and order one from Co-Op in Calgary and call it a day. BUT, then it hit me. My cousin has kids who are gluten intolerant and they will be there. How could I deny Ellie and them the GF cake goodness they’ve come accustom to. I decided that I was not going to be “TeeTee Let Down”, so I sent out an email – maybe more of an SOS but an email none the less. And guess who rescued me……
Over emails we picked the size, flavour, decoration, writing and I even paid for it via paypal. The best part of the whole process was that I didn’t even need to leave my desk. And trust me, as a student, you start to think of your desk and your computer as an extension of yourself.
Oh and people, Lauren is a rock star. She managed to take my babbling, turn them into a coherent order and execute exactly what I had in mind. The results were perfection…..see…..
Some of you are looking at that cake a little quizzically. Your eyes are not deceiving you. It does have the words, TeeTee, Dunkle and Epic on it. TeeTee and Dunkle just happen to be what Elle decided we should be called. Instead of Aunty and Uncle, we’re TeeTee and Dunkle. And that’s just fine by us, we even have it on coffee mugs! And speaking of stupid human tricks, there is now a rambunctious 4 year old running around Alberta telling everyone that she’s epic. (again, not an issue for us as we’re not her parents) No niece of ours will ever suffer from self esteem issues!
If you’re wondering how a toddler reacts to a GF cake, here’s a snap shot:
I heard nothing but great things about the taste of the cake. I’m told that the adults were half tempted to cut smaller pieces for the kids so that they could have more for themselves. And when adults are willing to take cake from kids, you know it has to be good!
Thanks GF Patisserie. You really made it easier to keep tradition alive even with some serious distance.
Husband and I lucked out. Without knowing it at the time, we rented an apartment that sits smack dab in the middle of two pizza points that have GF options. Pair that with the roof top pool and the McDonalds three blocks away and we live in a powder keg of sparklers and rockets!
The first pizza point we tried is called ZPizza. Here it’s pronounced ZeePizza, and husband has a habit of messing with them by calling them ZedPizza. I think its a game for him now. A game called “How long will it take for them to figure out were talking about the same thing?” My favourite pizza is the Z-BBQ. When ordered they expect to hear ‘Zee Barbecue’ but Husband thinks it’s hysterical to order ‘ZedBeBeQ’. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat there and watched him torture the person on the other end of the phone. I will admit that I also find it a little funny, but I know that I don’t think it’s THAT funny. I’m actually surprised that they still pick up the phone when they see our number.
What is so great about ZPizza is that they have found a way to combine great taste and a wonderful crust. The options for toppings are extensive, as is the choice of sauces. And the crust is by far the best I’ve had to date. It’s a thin crust that is crispy on the edges, but holds firm throughout. It even reheats well. Husband had the chance to try their normal crust this past week and he even thinks that the GF crust is the best of both options. Score one for all of us, you can order GF for the whole gang and not be worried that anyone is missing out or going to contaminate your food. Can I get a Hell to the Ya!
I’d also like to commend them on their attention to detail and safety. They make their dough in house and all GF pizzas are cooked on GF dedicated pans. They take great precaution with cross contamination and I appreciate that. I feel safe ordering there and because of that we have come to rely on them to feed us when we have an empty fridge, or more importantly, we feel to lazy to cook for ourselves.
The second GF pizza place near us is Lost Dog Cafe. They have a large selection of choices and get this, they carry a selection of GF beer! The crust is thicker than others I’ve had but I find it a little gritty. My favourite pizza is the crab meat pie because it combines some of my favourite things – sea food brie cheese and garlic. Oh and did I mention that they deliver – not just the pizza but also the beer. This is one major selling feature for us.
I do have one concern with ordering from them – cross contamination. Their GF dough comes from a third party provider and I’ve discovered that when it’s busy, they tend to laps on safety. When rushed they often cross contaminate the pizza in what I think is just an oversight to safety in the hope for speed. Husband and I know not to order during peak hours because we’re taking a risk. This can suck, because celiacs get hungry at the same time as normal people, and if you’re anything like me, being forced to wait when hungry makes for one irritated impossible to reason with person. You’re now feeling really bad for Husband and what it must be like to live with me when I’m denied food. Don’t feel bad, he’s really good about keeping snacks in his pocket for such occasions.
With these two pizza places near by, we never make it ourselves anymore. And let me tell you, it’s awesome not to have cook what is supposed to be convenience food. Long live laziness.
Sunday’s in my world are full of poncho’s, cheering, taunting, money won and lost and sometimes, just sometimes, there is a group hug.
Why are my Sunday’s so fantastic? Because we have football Sunday’s! JAM!
Every Sunday, Fiance and I head over to my parents house where we do laundry, eat lots of food, and watch 5 different channels full of football. The best is when rival teams play and everyone gets out their team poncho and trash talks the opponent. Poor Fiance loves the Seahawks – he takes the brunt of the trash talking.
The end of football season usually sucks. We tend to just sit there and stare at each other. Nectar Desserts and my favourite server in the whole world have come to our rescue. They have Sunday Tea Parties. Oh yes family, you read that right, we’re going to start having Tea Parties when football season is over.
For $30/person you can go and have tea, bon bons, macrons, mini pavlovas and so much more. They even have GF scones and house made preserves. We are so making reservations and they are all going to LOVE IT.
Since I wont be able to make it until the end of the season, I highly recommend that you guys go and try it and then tell me how wonderful it is. The more positive things I can tell the family about it, the more likely they are to come with me!
Please mention when you make a reservation that you are a celiac, it will help them make sure that they have the scones etc that you will want. And please tell them that Scrumptious (aka Keegan) is the server of your dreams. He really is that fantastic and I think his boss needs to know it!
Thanks for the heads up Scrumptious! And happy tea partying to you all.
Christmas is exactly a month away. That’s really not a lot of time to prepare for the awesomeness that is the Christmas Holiday. I’m a Holidork, and it’s kind of a big deal event to me.
One of the most important parts is making sure that I have suitable GF replacements for my former gluten filled holiday favourites. Last year my focus was on Nanaimo Bars. Now that, that problem has been solved by our fantastic friends at GF Patisserie; it’s time to focus on the next big item: Land of Nod Buns.
Wait; hold on, now that I say that, I should really double check that Nanaimo Bars are still on the list at GF Patisserie. GF Patisserie, if you’re reading this, your Nanaimo Bars are the beginning and end of my world. I love them and you so very very much. (Does sucking up usually help the desperate?!)
Okay since that’s covered; let’s move on to the Land of Nod Buns. If you’ve never heard of them before, you’ve never lived. Here is the gluten filled version of the recipe. These are the highlight of every Christmas breakfast. Elbows are thrown, glares are given and no one will ever politely give the last piece to a family member. Darwin rules our breakfast table – actually, Darwin rules our entire family dynamic.
So why am I telling you this? Because I need your superior skills to get me out of a jam. You see, Darwin has played a really cruel joke on me. On the one hand, I was graced with the art of logic and sarcasm. These are skills that will never fail you in the academic and commerce worlds. However, if it came down to a deserted island scenario I would lose. It would be game over, because I have ZERO culinary skills. I would starve to death. So, now I lean on my far superior readers to bail me out. I NEED gluten free Land of Nod Buns this year. This is a NEED people, not a want. That makes it that much more important to my survival.
That being said, I lay down a challenge at your feet. The reader who can provide me with the most accurate and user friendly GF Land of Nod Bun recipe will win not only my love and eternal affection, but also a fantastic prize.
So here are the challenge details should you choose to take it:
I think that’s all the rules I’ve got. But I reserve the right to add some later if need be. Once a winner is decided, I will post the recipe for all of you, and a wonderful prize will be sent to them. And by wonderful, I mean SUPER FANTASTIC.
Thank you in advance to all you wonderful people that are going to help me out with this.
Butter Tarts Rule.
My mother’s butter tarts kick your mothers butter tarts in the butt. So much so, that I have friends that request my mom make them butter tarts and mail them across the country. Oh yes, they are that good.
You can only imagine my delight when I came across these little wonders. Yup total excitement.
I found these at Co-Op and could barely contain it. Not only is Lakeview Bakery a local company, but they understand the importance of the butter tart.
So what did I think?
Ha, like you didn’t know I was about to tell you.
Well…let me begin with spreading some love. Lakeview Bakery is great. As one of the early adopters of gluten free baking in Calgary, I have nothing but love for their efforts. I would also like to spread some love for the filling. Very, very tasty. Just sugary enough that your teeth hurt (as they should with a butter tart) and just enough raisins that you feel like you’ve made the healthy choice without feeling like you need to go hug a tree and call it organic.
Okay, so, now for the less than love part of this post. I can’t hide it. The tart was not good. I found it dry, thick and it left an odd after taste in my mouth. I tried heating it up, I tried adding soy milk, I tried my best to love it. But I couldn’t. If they could perfect the tart shell, I would worship at the butter tart alter.
I’m going to digress here:
You know what would be FANTASTIC…if someone could create gluten free tart shells that I could fill myself then pass off as homemade. That would be FANTASTIC.
I’ve posted about Simple Simon before, click here for a refresher. Simon and I are friends – even if he doesn’t know about it! Simon makes my life easy, and anything that makes life a little easier is a good thing in my world.
One of the ways Simon makes my life easier is that he makes little GF desserts. They come perfectly portioned, and easy to heat up – open lid, microwave, eat. Three simple steps.
Recently I tried the Apple Delight. I can say that it was a delight to eat. (Wow, the grumbles that just reverberated through the internet world at my horrible humor – I heard you!) Anyhow, it was like eating a store bought apple pie in a cup. I say that because it had that perfect level of apples, Cinnamon, and sugar that store bought pies have. There is something about it that you don’t get from home made. That being said, I am NOT knocking home made pie, that stuff is awesome, it’s also completely out of my league. So for the rest of us, there is Simple Simon.
I will say this, Simon skimps on the crumble topping. MORE TOPPING PLEASE! Maybe if I yell at him on the internet with my threatening caps lock he will make some with more topping. Is this considered cyber bullying? If it is, well then it’s worth it for MORE CRUMBLE TOPPING.