And you thought the perfect roux was hard before.

There is the traditional food groups, we all know them, in my house there’s a whole different set of food groups. Cajun, Italian, Mexican, Sushi, and Ice Cream. Really, what we eat can generally break into one of those groups. Cajun is number one on that list. Even though we’re both born and bread Northwestern Kids (I’m from Oregon and my husband was born in Alaska) we love Cajun food. Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etoufee, Po Boys…we love it all. We love Cajun food so much we had a Cajun food truck cater our wedding. It was literally the best money we spent on the whole day.

So, the thing that I started lamenting the most when I got my celiac diagnosis was gumbo. You can’t make gumbo without flour. The base of gumbo is a roux, a mixture of wheat flour and butter cooked to a dark chocolate brown. You can’t make gumbo without it, becuase that roux not only thickens but it add the rich deep falvor that kind of is gumbo. Well a quick google search later and my husband was looking at making gumbo with sweet rice flour. If you’ve ever tried to make a roux by just replacing it with one single flour, you know that it doesn’t work very well. You get grainy liquid and light flavors and none of the complexity that you expect from gumbo. So we set out on a journey, a journey for the perfect gluten free roux.

To understand how to make a gluten free roux, you need to understand how to make a roux period. Roux isn’t just mixing oil and flour together to make things thicken. What makes roux so special is the fact that you’re cooking the flour to create a depth of flavor. I mean, it’s French and it’s cooking so it’s totally more complicated than that. You cook the flour to take away some of that flour taste. If you’ve even made a slurry with just flour and water it’s not tasty. It tastes like playdough, but less salty. So you cook the flour to try and get that flavor out. The same thing happens that happens when you cook meat or sugar the make carmel, the maillard reaction, and it makes the flavor more complicated and the whole things just gets smoother. So when you make your bachemel sauce or a gravy, which is light and buttery, you use a light roux. When you make a etoufee or gumbo you use a super dark roux with deep complex flavors. Yup, all of that chemistry stuff from just cooking some flour. So in making a gluten free roux, you got to look at how to get all of that in one place. Nothing to be intimidated by there.

One of the images that always sticks in my head when I think about making roux is Alton Brown sitting in a kitchen with pots and pots around him of burned chocolate roux. I would have shared that image here, but it apparently doesn’t live on the internet and I would have to pay to get a screen shot of that scene. Still great episode, you should all watch it. And as I go through the rest of this post, this image will be really important.

So another google search, you’ll find that a lot in this post, we came to Emril Lagasse. If you don’t know, Emril’s two daughters are part of the Celitariat, one has celiac one has non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The man who is know to America as the Cajun cook has made gluten free gumbo, so he should KNOW the best way to get a good roux. We bought a cook book authored by his daughters that included some recipes from him. We tried their roux, which used Arrowhead Mills gluten free flour. We tracked some down (at our local Safeway in the gluten free ethnic food section) and tried what the experts said. Again, it was okay. Not the best not the worst. We tried it a couple of times, and it was still just okay. The thickening was there, but it lacked a depth of flavor. Arrowhead Mills is rice flour, sorghum, and tapioca starch. Knowing what we know now, it makes sense that the color and flavor just wasn’t there.

Now, I will say, if you’re going for a light roux, like a white roux, this is great. It works pretty well for my cream of chicken and while rice soup. It works pretty well to make cream of chicken soup to make our chicken and rice dishes. But if you’ve ever had gumbo (and a really good gumbo) it’s really complex, like a red wine. And we have had gumbo at Emril’s actual restaurants before. The roux was so dark and the flavor was so rich, we thought that there had to be red wine in. There wasn’t, it was all the roux. So to have a light roux in a gumbo recipe tied to him, that just doesn’t work.

After a couple of attempts, we realized it wasn’t us, it was totally the flour so we went back to the internet. Google told us that we should use Bob’s Red Mill AP, which made a roux that tastes like beans. We tried white rice flour, brown rice flour, and sorghum flour. We tried combinations of all of the above. That’s when my husband realized the thing that all gluten free cooks realize, the pre-mixed AP flours are just not as good as making your own. So this week, he threw caution to the wind and grabbed white rice flour, sweet rice flour, and ivory teff. He mixed all of those in equal parts into the pot and made the best batch of gumbo that we’ve had since going gluten free. It got dark and had all of the complex nutty flavors that we were missing. The teff, unlike the sorghum, really stood up to the cooking and got really yummy. It tasted almost as good as any of the glutened gumbos that I have ever had.

Now, a bit of a cooking lesson here. I know I said I wasn’t going to do this, but there’s some science here. So a normal roux is made with equal amount of oil and flour. The oil can change based on what kind of cooking that you’re doing (butter for french, lard for Middle European, bacon grease for cajiun). Wheat flour is really…thirsty. I mean really thirsty. It absorbs oil really well. If you’ve tried to make your own gluten free fried chicken, or anything breaded really, the gluten free flour doesn’t absorb the oil as well. So when you make your gluten free roux, whatever fat you use, you use less of it. If you’re making a gravy with gluten free flour, you add a little bit more to the drippings. It’s just one of the things that you have to adapt. My husband says it should be a third less oil, and when I’ve made roux would agree with that.

So there’s the cooking lessons. That’s as close was we’re going to ever get to doing a cooking blog. Sorry this took a couple of extra days, but there was a lot of get into this one. I almost broke it into a couple of  posts because there is just so much information. Still, here’s your basic roux recipe for the best dark roux base we have found.

The perfect dark roux

1/3 cup white rice flour

1/3 cup sweet/glutenous rice flour (machiko)

1/3 cup ivory teff flour

2/3 of a cup of butter

Now go out there and enjoy some good old Cajun food. All of the work is worth it.

Semen is gluten free

Well, I have no proof that the US Navy does or doesn’t serve gluten to it’s sailors, but I have a good feeling that it does. So, I wouldn’t expect any Celiacs to be trolling to sailors when the boats come in town.

So, let me say that there’s one important thing here, there is no study for any of this. This is just my research. Apparently, this is something that is just so…well duh…that no one is willing to even look a studying it. That being said, the husband and I were looking at writing Playboy Adviser to ask them for some proof on this. But google works just as well as a letter into Hugh Hefner’s 50 year tribute to the most interesting man in the world, and generally much faster.

resized_the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world-meme-generator-i-don-t-always-celebrate-easter-but-when-i-do-it-s-at-the-playboy-mansion-0e857a

But in all seriousness, we can’t safely say that all bodily fluids are gluten free. We know that breast milk can contain gluten, and so mothers with children who have celiac can be feeding their little ones gluten without knowing it. But breast milk it made in a very different way than semen. For one, breast milk is made strictly to transfer nutrients and proteins from the mother to the child. So it makes sense that gluten can be passed through there as a nutrient. Semen, on the other end, is designed to convey genetic material from one body to the next (and used to create the being that benefit from the breast milk) so it’s designed to be environment to keep sperm alive and swimming. So their basic biological design is different, and it has different purpose, so they should totally have different compositions.

So what is in urine and what is in breastmilk? Well here’s a list of all of the things in breastmilk and urine:

Semen Breastmilk
Calcium Casein
Chloride a-lactalbumin
Citrate Lactoferin
Fructose IgA
Glucose IgG
Lactic Acid Lysozyme
Magnesium Serum albumin
Potassium Lactoglobulin
Protein Lactose
Sodium Oligosaccharides
Urea Calcium
Zinc Phosphorus
  Sodium
  Potassium
  Chlorine

There’s a lot of similarities. There’s protein in each. There’s sodium and calcium. But that’s about where the similarities end. Really, we should just say, these are both bodily fluids and leave it at that. Still, there’s some amazing things you find out when you look at what’s in these things. Not to go Food Babe on you or anything, but there’s chlorine in breast milk. I think that totally proves that when you break everything down to chemicals, you will find something that makes you go blarf

That being said, lets address the elephant in the room. If you know anything about the composition of semen, you know that there’s urea in there. That, for the laymen out there, is the main component of urine. Now, if you pay attention to celiac news at all, you’ll know that Celiac Disease Symposium last summer, a company unveiled a urinalysis (aka a pee test) that can detect gluten immunogenic peptides in someone who had digested gluten anywhere from 4 hours to 2 days after the incident. If you remember back to our discussion on gluten free beer, we discussed how guiladin can get broken down in our systems to make it less reactive to celiacs, the gluten immunogenic peptides are totally the broken up parts of the guilidin, it’s just a discussion of how our body natually breaks them down, and these are the things that the celiac’s immune system reacts to. This UA can detect a reactive amount (50 parts per million) of gluten immunogenic peptides in a celiac’s urine. This means that that there are trace amounts of reactive gluten immunogenic peptides in urine, does that mean that there’s gluten in semen. So, there is only 45 part 100ml of urine in semen, that means that the gluten containing components in semen are less than a reactive level. Heck according to the FDA, it’s below a testable amount in semen, so that means that there’s really no way to reliably check at this time. I think that means we can say gluten is gluten free and still make it under the FDA guidelines.

According to the FDA, we should be able to feel pretty good about that.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is science at work.

cd9b270528cc6ec1ce2713d362df5ccd

A good gluten-free bakery is like a unicorn, magical and special

First off, today is a pretty historic day. Today our fellow Celitariats, the non-celiac gluten welcome-to-the-club-meme-5538sensitive, have been verified as having a digestive issues from eating wheat! It’s a step in the right direction to get all of the right and privileges that celiac’s have (yeah I’m still trying to figure out what those are too.) But it’s a step towards recognized medical diagnosis and away from the “wheat-belly” it’s all in your head gluten intolerance. So, that’s good. The study was reported today on celiac.com, but the actual study was been published since July 25th.

So, what does this have to do with my post today, well it was brought to my attention from one of my favorite GF bakeries. They posted the study on Facebook this morning. It’s not their normal thing, usually it’s about their season menus, but this was something that they wanted to celebrate. So let’s celebrate them back a little.

There are a couple of big gluten free bakeries out there. We all know about them Udi’s is probably the biggest, but now they’re more of a gluten free food line than anything else. There’s a lot of bigger regional bakeries. Out here in the NW we have W.O.W. (Without Wheat) which is out of Kent, Washington and makes one amazing oatmeal cookie. You can usually find these two in the gluten free section of your grocery store. Then there’s the small neighborhood bakeries. These you can sometimes find in the bakery section or freezer section of your special grocery store or by driving to their home neighborhoods. The Seattle area has a slew of these. There’s Flying Apron, NuFlours, Coffee and a Specialty Bakery (which is downstairs in Pikes Place Market and worth the walk down all those stairs) and Wildflour (way over in Bellevue.) Large chunks of Seattle are covered with their own little neighborhood places. And then you  have the start-ups that are in your farmer’s markets. We found a really nice one at our local farmer’s market called Sugar and Spice, and they make amazing bread, including a cinnamon swirl bread that makes the best french toast.

The first one of these that I made my way into was Wildflour. They have an amazing flour

giphy

This is kind of what it looked like!

mix (no they don’t sell it) that makes light fluffy bread and some of the best chocolate chip cookies that I’ve ever had (glutened or gluten free.) Walking into Wildflour was like walking into a Willy Wonka’s magic chocolate garden room. I could eat anything and everything. It’s not until you walk into a grocery store and realize exactly how much you can’t eat to understand what it’s like to take that freedom for granted. Walking into a dedicated gluten bakery takes all of that away. There you can eat everything! That bread on the shelf, you can eat that. Those cookies in the case, you can eat those too. I honestly think I spent way too much money on out first trip to the shop, but it was so worth it. We walked out with some of the best foccacia I’ve ever had and cookies that were amazing. It’s just a beautiful thing.

I had a similar feeling when we went to Coffee and Specality Bakery and got some bacon cinnamon rolls (they make the best cinnamon rolls) and spoke with the owners for 20 minutes about Seattle suburbs and got some free dinner rolls from them. Or when I met some girlfriends for coffee at Flying Apron and there was mac and cheese and beer and doughnuts! Oh my! It’s kind of great just being able to go in some place and eat EVERYTHING knowing that it was safe to try whatever I want. The best part is when your friends think that the gluten free option is better than the gluten option.

Yup, the food of our people is better than what you Gluticrats have. Sure you can eat gluten free, but until you know that it’s as good as or better than that glutened stuff, well that’s really special. I still have more to explore, but that’s part of the joy of being gluten free. There’s a whole new world of food to eat.

 

Wait, how is sushi not gluten free

Sorry about the silence for the past week. It was a rough one. Couple of the highlights, a little over a week ago we put our house on the market, so we’ve had a lot of late evenings where we can’t be in the house. That’s prime writing time for me. To make matters worse, Saturday last week we took our oldest cat to the vet. The vet wanted more testing so we went back on Tuesday, but things didn’t look good. I mentioned this cat before in my post about cat food. He was the 17 year old, diabetic, picky eater. I say was, because Saturday we had to put him down. It’s really been a rough week.

I just didn’t feel like I could write this week, I’m really sorry about that. I promise another double post coming up, but I just need a little time.

Before the events of the week went pear shaped I was planning on doing a post of sushi. Monday night, even though it was a late night of house showings and Fathom event movies, I actually had a good gluten free sushi experience. The restaurant even had tamari in packets and sauce jars, so bonus win.

We all know what to look out for in sushi places. Anything that goes into a fryer is bad. Anything with panko is bad. Anything tempura is bad. Imitation crab is bad. Ramen, katsu, and teriyaki are bad. Even miso soup can be bad, depending on the type of miso used. The rest of it’s so very good. Unless there’s gluten in the rice.

sushi rice

Sushi rice it traditionally made out of rice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Sometimes you can use sushi seasoning, which is the salt and sugar and powdered vinegar. And there you start to see the gluten traps. Anything that is powered can include wheat as an anti-caking agent. I don’t know if any of these sushi seasoning powders contain wheat because Japanese regulations for food labeling doesn’t require them to list every ingredient. There are also some reports that black rice vinegar (which is sometimes used in sushi rice) can contain gluten, and you should check the label (which if you remember isn’t required to list all ingredients). So, what I’m saying is, if you’re at a sushi restaurant, ask what kind of seasoning they use in their sushi rice and if there’s sushi seasoning powder or black rice vinegar, choose the sashimi.

The rest of the experience is all about you’re ability to exert your needs. If you say, wash the knives and cutting boards, expect that they’re going to. If you don’t say anything the glutening is all on you. If you say something and they don’t listen, well that’s all on them and you should complain. Other than that, don’t drink to shochu, because it sounds tempting but it’s mostly made our of wheat or sweet potatoes (like vodka.) A really good, and aware, sushi place will have gluten free listed on their menu and will help you find things that you can eat.

This came up on my birthday last year. I wanted one thing, sushi. We went to sushi at one of the conveyor belts places that I liked before my diagnosis. I thought it was going to be safe because rice vinegar is totally gluten free. When I mentioned that I was celiac, the server went back to the kitchen and talked to the chief. She came back out and told me that their rice wasn’t gluten free, but the chief would make something for me. So for my birthday I ate raw fish and spring rolls. Not the experience that I wanted, but the one that I got. This was after my first disastrous sushi adventure where I didn’t say anything and wound up with panko on my roll…yeah…

sushi einSo I have done the full gamut of bad gluten sushi experiences, but I’m happy to say that I finally have more good ones than bad ones. There is a chain of conveyor belt sushi in the Seattle area called Blue C, which is a little more expensive but has really good food and they’re good at the gluten free food. They even have California rolls with real crab and the beauty of real crab in one of those is amazing.

So there’s your primer on gluten free sushi. Feel free to eat away!