You can’t always eat what you want…

Happy New Years everyone!

So, post Christmas was interesting. I got the stomach flu. I honestly never really thought I would ever be excited from the stomach flu, but only having the body aches and need to run to the bathroom for a limited time (and not having all of the rest of the glutened symptoms afterwards) is kind of amazing. I get excited knowing that the flu is a limited time illness, and it’s kind of sad.

Anyway, after the stomach bug I cut my thumb open. Literally, I was sick the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas and on Tuesday night I sliced my thumb open. Below is a recreation of the actual event.

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But seriously, I cut about halfway through the tip of my thumb. Kind of makes typing hard. And then the in-laws descended on my house. We got away with eating without incident (in the home) but the one meal outside of our house that we had, I got glutened.

It was a really stupid one. We went to Maggiano’s Little Italy, which pride themselves on doing gluten free (and all allergies) really well. They had a chief come out and speak with me (nice touch) and assure us that there was a separate gluten free part of the kitchen with special gluten free pasta water. They make all of the pasta in house and make sure that there’s no cross contamination. And I get my plate of fresh-made pasta prepared gluten free (and it’s pretty good, still a little grainy but not half bad pasta). And there, in the middle of my plate, is a strand of not gluten free spaghetti. How do I know, because I had penne and when I mentioned that there was spaghetti on my plate, the waitress got this look on her face and said she’s get the chief. But the chief didn’t come back, the manager came back and comped my meal. And got me a new plate of pasta. And gave us $50 in gift cards because they were so embarrassed that is happened. I mean, I was down for the count for 3 days but there was 3 free meals out of it. Doesn’t make up for the intestinal damage, but I would be willing to try again in case this was just a fluke.

So, my stomach has been a little tender as of late. And I’ve been a bit emotional. And I totally hit the post holiday funk. And I can’t really type or crochet or video game until this last week (Pokemon Go doesn’t count because it only uses one hand.) So, I haven’t been writing or really doing much of anything.  Until this last weekend.

I subscribe to the Gluten Free on a Shoestring newsletter. I really like their recipes and used several of them over Christmas. A couple of months ago I found one of her cookbooks in our local half priced book store (creatively called Half Prices Books) and bought it. Inside I found one of my favorite things, molasses break. It’s a quick version of the bread that you get at Outback Steak House, but gluten free. I’d been trying to 2 years to make something close, so I tried it. I modified the recipe a bit to make in my bread machine, and it was perfect. Literally perfect. Light and fluffy and moist. I made for Thanksgiving dinner and it was amazing. I also tried to make Monkey bread for the first time since the diagnosis, and it was also amazing.

This started us down the road of seeking out foods we haven’t had in a while. There was the cider pub in Seattle that had gluten free fish and chips and fried cheese (it was 100% gluten free restaurant). There was the fried rice after New Years (which almost, but didn’t, include part of my thumb). There was our trip to the local Asian market near our new house that included buying of mochi ice cream. And then this weekend we chased the dragon (so to speak.) I made Chinese barbecue pork and the husband made fried chicken.

I’ve tried making barbecue pork before and it was…okay. This time was a million times better. The fried chicken, that was from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. A KFC copy cat recipe was sent in the newsletter last week, and I just wanted it. We had been watching video of kids trying Christmas food was around the world, and in Japan KFC is traditional to have on Christmas Day. I starting having a craving for some fried chicken, and I was obliged last night.

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Seriously, I don’t remember fried chicken being soo good. It was crispy and moist and yummy. I think I was 8 all over again eating chicken from a bucket. I just needed some of that overcooked, dry corn on a cob and a biscuit slathered in butter and honey from packets.  Next time we make it, I’ll work on biscuits I think.

We all have these foods that we love, and honestly, not all of them come in easy to find gluten free varieties. Sure, my new molasses bread isn’t the same texture as the one at Outback Steak House. It’s a bit more dense and moist than that one is. Sure my barbecue pork doesn’t have that bright red skin that the ones in the grocery store have (that food coloring BTW.) And sure that fried chicken wasn’t as thickly coated as the KFC, but it was still pretty amazing. And yeah we can’t just go to the store and buy it, but this isn’t a lament of the loss of convenience, but celebrate the resourcefulness of our people.

Celiacs and Gluten Sensitives have been finding a way to get their favorite things for years. It’s been years of struggle to get to this point. We live in an age of regulation of labeling and blends of flours that can create whatever you want. Sure we can’t get the protein structures like gluten baked goods, but we can get close. And we are on the cusp of a cure. As we speak there’s clinical testing on possible cures. This is the best time to need to be gluten free. Sure there’s a lot of room for growth. Sure there can be better testing and education (I mean look at Italy) but we’re in a pretty good place.

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So, just because you can’t have EXACTLY what you want, be glad with what you do have. Because everyday we’re just a little bit more comfortable. Everyday some inventive cook out there figures out another way to make something gluten free. And we know how to do things that most normal people never think about. We know the careful alchemy of mixing whole grains and starches to create just the right surface tension for fluffy bread. We know how to do things that people just didn’t need to do anymore, that people forgot because the industrialized food machine has been doing it for them. We 1hduzeare the people who can’t be lazy, can’t decide that there’s just no energy to make something and I’ll just go out. Where most people start on their cooking, with boxed and frozen foods, that’s where we get lazy. We are the Celitariat, doing all of these things because the gluten free life has chosen us. We have our hustle on just to put food on the table and not be sick afterwards. That is what the gluten free life really is.

 

So, as the title of this post says, you can’t always eat what you want…but if you try really hard you can get pretty close.

What did you think I was going to Rolling Stones here…?

 

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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.

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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!