Posted by: Nancy | August 15, 2007

The Shared Kitchen – part 3

 In Part 1, we discussed why we need to be so careful in a household where there are gluten-free and non-gluten-free people. 

 In Part 2, we discussed how to create a safe environment for your gluten-free food. 

 Today we’ll be discussing why you have to verify EVERY SINGLE THING to determine its gluten-free status and how to best do that. 

 The FDA is actually working on better labeling requirements for gluten-free food (as well as other food intolerances).  You may have already seen notes at the bottom of ingredient statements that say “Processed on the same equipment with wheat, soy and tree nuts.”  So they understand exactly how specific people with food intolerances have to be.  

 The easy part of being on the gluten-free diet is not eating the obvious things – bread, pizza, pasta, crackers, cookies, etc.   If that was all there was to it, it would be easy. 

 But hidden gluten is where the real work comes in.  The short version is that you MUST verify every single thing that goes into your mouth whether you think it might have gluten in it (or on it) or not.   Because a lot of it is what I call Stupid Gluten.    Just because there is no good reason a product should have to have gluten in it, yet there it is. 

 It’s not really stupid from the food manufacturer’s point of view though.  Wheat and barley (malt) are actually very good flavor enhancers.   Infuriating Gluten would probably be a better description, but I think Stupid Gluten just sounds better. 

Some examples of Stupid Gluten (or sometimes just surprising) would be –

 Red  Licorice ( most of which is actually made from a wheat based dough – who’da guessed?)

Pringles

Campbells Cream of … Soups

Tea (Bigelow and Traditional Medicinals for sure have a few with gluten)

Soy Sauce

Oatmeal (usually processed on the same equipment as wheat)

Almost all cereals, even rice krispies and corn flakes

Spice mixes

Imitation Crab

Rice Dream rice milk

 Candy Corn

Nuts and seeds – sometimes are dusted with flour or as part of the seasoning mix

CHARCOAL (for pete’s sake)

Nathan’s Hot Dogs

And on, and on and on…  And we haven’t even gotten to arts and craft supplies, shampoos, cosmetics, health and beauty items, lotions, soaps, cleaning products, etc. 

 You also have to verify that gluten isn’t hidden behind ingredient statements such as “natural flavorings” or “modified food starch”.  Either could contain gluten. 

 So you can see, you have to verify EV.ER.Y.THING.   That list could easily be three times as long, but I think you get the point that it’s in the weirdest and stupidest places. 

 So Verify, Verify, Verify.  You also have to verify often.  Read the label every time you buy a product, even if you just bought it – ingredients change all the time.   For gluten-free product lists from manufacturers, verify every few months. 

 I have found that the easiest and most straight-forward way to verify a product is to go to that product’s website.   99.999% of products have a website nowadays.   If there is a search function, I just type in gluten.  If not, find the FAQ (frequently asked questions) section.  The FAQ is sometimes not obviously shown.  Look under customer service, or sometimes at the very bottom of the homepage.   Many times you can find the gluten question already addressed in the FAQ. 

 If not, you can either email the company or call them.   Most companies I’ve emailed have gotten back to me in a day or two.  I’m not a caller (yea, I’ve got issues – another topic for another day…), but I’ve heard that a very nice person on the other end who gets the question of the gluten status 20x a day looks up your product and lets you know if it’s gluten-free. 

 There are some companies that have a policy of full disclosure on all their products.  They won’t hide gluten behind phrases like “natural flavorings” or “modified food starch”.  These companies request that we read the full ingredient label each time we buy a product, but in turn they also promise to fully disclose any and all gluten-containing ingredients.  The companies I trust and have never had any problems with are: 

Kraft  – You’d be shocked at how many food “brands” are actually Kraft companies. 

McCormick – the spice and seasonings people

Frito Lay

ConAgra – Again, shocking how many food brands are ConAgra companies.

 There are other companies with this policy, but with just these four it’s totally easy to go grocery shopping.  I just focus on Kraft products, to be honest. 

 All that being said, I’ve also had run ins with products that were verified gluten-free and a couple even LABELED gluten-free that made me sick.  (None of the above companies.)  It can take some trial and error to narrow down the culprit. When you’ve figured out what is making you sick, there may be several things going on – 

– Cross contamination on the packaging of the product.  Maybe you got gluten on your hands outside the house, maybe the person stocking the shelves at the grocery store just came from stocking the flour aisle. 

– Cross contamination within the product.  Just like in a home kitchen, in a food manufacturing plant, it’s easy for gluten to inadvertantly contaminate a batch of food.   It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. 

– Another food intolerance.  During the healing phase of celiac disease, other food intolerances can come and go.  Dairy is almost always a co-existing food intolerance for the first several months.  The reason for this is that the tips of the intestinal villi that are destroyed in the celiac process are where the enzymes for digesting dairy are located.  It can take up to a couple years for the villi to fully heal.  So it can take a while.  People with one food intolerance are also more likely to have other food intolerances.   Keep a food / symptoms diary and see if you can figure out what the pattern might be. 

 Don’t worry though, after a while, it all actually becomes second nature.   Just take one thing at a time.   I found that just knowing that Kraft, McCormick, Frito Lay and ConAgra would put gluten in plain English in the ingredient statement has fed me just fine up to now.   Probably 90% of what I buy is from those companies. 

 Makes the Atkins Diet look easy now, huh?  😉

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 11, 2007

Ack!

I haven’t been blogging this week.  Been in a bit of a panic attack here.  (So this makes sense you’ll need to know that Hubby works in the IT department of a mortgage company. )

On our way to camping last weekend Hubby told me about The Big Mortgage Company Meltdown of 2007 that reached a peak the middle of that previous week.  Companies were going under left and right.  Big companies.   

So last weekend was a lot of trying not to think about it even though I couldn’t help thinking about it.   And breathing.  Lots of deep breathing.   And s’mores.  Lots of deep breathing and s’mores. 

I was so worried about what might happen that I just didn’t feel like talking about it or anything else. 

 The good news is that it looks like Hubby’s company is going to get through this.  So the initial panic is over.  Which is good because my Hubby kept saying that he was going to apply to be an Ice Road Trucker.  But he was kidding.  I think. 

As relieved as I am, this whole situation was a real wakeup call for me.  I haven’t been a good of a steward of our money.  There it is.  I said it.  Financial planning does NOT come naturally to me.  

Reviewing Tater Mitts on the other hand…  Totally natural. 

 When we were first married I pinched every penny I could because I had to.  I even bought a lot of our food at the dollar store.  Serious pinching.  

As the years went by and Hubby’s career started paying more, I’ve been slacking off.  Badly.  These last few years I’ve been buying groceries at stores not known for the best prices.  Actually the one closest to us is known for really high prices.   But it also has a real-live gluten-free section.  With permanent signs and everything.  

 I’m ashamed to say that I stopped even looking at the sale ads.  At all.  I was just tossing whatever I wanted into the cart.  I would just stick my fingers in my ears when they gave me the total at the checkstand. 

Just call me Cleopatra y’all…

 So this week I have been busy getting my financial life under control.  I started a price book and found that yes, the grocery store I hate shopping at the most, because it’s always crowded (because of all the deals) and doesn’t have those cool car carts for the kids (passing the savings on to YOU) and lots of fed up aggravated moms (because of the lack of cool car carts in which to strap the darling children into) is, in fact, the Low Price Leader.  Great. 

 Well, at least my oldest is starting Kindergarten next week and I’ll only have to take one child grocery shopping now.  So it’s going to get easier. 

 I also found a great message board for frugal stuff.   It’s got archives-o-plenty and really nice people.  If anyone else is thinking about increasing their frugal awareness, go take a look – Frugal Village.   I’ve learned a lot there this week.   

 To be honest, if I just can get our grocery and Walmart/Target spending under control, we will be fine.  But, the people at Frugal Village are really inspiring.  There are people there who are frugal so that they can be debt-free by a certain goal date.  And not just credit card free, but car payment free or even mortgate free. 

 I actually sat down with the sale ads and took notes this week.  I even kicked myself for missing out on a Buy One, Get One Free sale on eggs. 

 But I might actually take advantage of it because you can freeze eggs.  Not in their shells though.  You have to freeze them in baggies. 

I learned that on Frugal Village. 

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 2, 2007

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

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 My gluten-free graham crackers are based on one of the free recipes at Top Secret Recipes .   Since it’s one of his free recipes, I’ll go ahead and post the whole recipe.  I wrote a post about some of the other Top Secret Recipes here

If you’ve ever worked with gluten-free dough, you’ve discovered that most doughs aren’t as thick as gluteny doughs.  They can also be very difficult, if not impossible, to work with.  I created the rolling technique that I use here so I could have rolled cookies, such as cut-out Christmas cookies.  It ended up being a great way to store cookie dough.  I can just pull one out of the freezer when I need it.  It also keeps me or my kids from eating a whole batch right after it’s made.  So now, that’s what I do with all my rolled doughs. 

 To be honest, you could make this into a pretty workable dough by adding less water.  You could probably roll it out the regular way, but the method I’ve been using really makes it easy to create the square crackers without any waste or re-rolling of the dough. 

 Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

1/3 cup shortening

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Sugar

3 tablespoons honey, warmed

1.5 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups Pamela’s Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

For the procedure of mixing the dough, I’m just going to link you directly to  Top Secret Recipe’s version of Nabisco Graham Crackers.    

I only have a couple of notes in addition to the recipe as written for making the dough.  It turns out that graham flour is just a course grind of whole wheat flour.  Pamela’s Baking Mix is really good with duplicating the appearance and graham-y flavor because it actually has almond meal in it, which is where the dark brown flecks in the picture come from.  Pamela’s Baking Mix also has the salt, baking powder, baking soda AND the ever- important GF baking ingredient – xanthan gum.  When you get to the part where you put the water in to bring the dough together, go easy on the water.  I start out with a 1/4 cup and see how it goes from there.  

To roll your dough out, you will need a gallon-sized zip-top bag, a one-cup measuring cup and a rolling pin.  In the pictures, I put a white towel down just so you can see the dough.  I actually did everything directly on the cutting board and not the towel. 

 1.  Fill a one cup measuring cup with dough.  Put it inside the ziplock bag and squash it down with your hands.   Do not seal the bag yet. 

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2.  Using the rolling pin and your hands, work the dough down into the bottom corners. 

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3.  Using the rolling pin and your hands, work the dough to fill the bag.  As you get to the top of the bag, get as much of the air bubbles out and seal the bag.   You want as flat and uniform an end-product as possible, so you’ll want to roll the sealed dough back and forth, side to side until you get it as flat and uniform as you can. 

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4.  At this point, I put the dough in the freezer.  I keep a cookie sheet in the freezer just for this so I can keep it completely flat.   When you take the dough out to make the graham crackers, you’ll need to work fast because it warms up pretty quickly. 

 5.  When you’re ready to make the graham crackers, open the bag and cut down the sides and across the bottom, removing the bag from the top surface of the dough. 

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6.   Flip the dough onto a greased cookie sheet, dough side down, and peel the rest of the bag off.  I usually have to work at this a bit to get the first edge off the bag so it stays in one piece. 

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7.   Now, take a pizza cutter and cut the dough into squares however big you’d like.  (Being a girl, I have to point out that the popeye arms are just a trick of the camera.  Man…  My forearm looks like a slice of pizza…!   Anyway…)

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8.  Bake them in a preheated  300 F oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until they are beginning to turn a light brown.  At this point, you’ll need to take them out of the oven and space them apart.  The spacing is how you’ll get that crisp graham crackery-ness.  If you keep them all together, you’ll end up with the outer ones having a crisp edge, and the inner ones being soft.  If they aren’t cooperating with the spacing, put them back in the oven until they firm up more and try again. 

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9.  Return them to the 300 F oven until they’re a medium golden brown.   They will still be soft at this point, but will be crisp when cool. 

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Enjoy! 

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 1, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday – Parenting advice edition

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Shannon, over at Rocks in My Dryer is doing a parenting edition of Works for Me Wednesday.  There are always tons of people participating, so head over there and read the advice everyone else has for this week’s edition. 

 Here’s my advice:  Don’t be too hard on yourself. 

 Don’t worry if the mom you thought you were going to be is not the mom you find yourself being.   They’re probably not the children you were expecting either. 

 I had my first child at 31.  So, during my 20’s I was that friend who just knew I would never lose my temper with my darling children like some of my friends were doing.  When I’m a mom, I’ll never lose my patience.  Even if I do get frustrated, I will most certainly not yell.   I’ll  never yell.   I’ll explain to them sweetly why they mustn’t do something.   And they will understand and look up at their mommy with adoring eyes while we cuddle and quietly read books.   Then we’ll do arts and crafts and make homemade seasonal decorations for the house. 

 Oh, the preciousness of it all…  It just breaks your heart doesn’t it? 

 Or maybe, depending on how long you’ve been a mom, you might be laughing your booty off by now. 

 Suffice it to say that motherhood has not been what I expected. 

 First of all, my kids do not sit, quietly or otherwise, unless they’re zoned out in front of the TV or sick.   They have always been the exact opposite of the quiet well-mannered cherubs of my imagination.   They are lively, active, loud, wild and wonderful kids.  They do not like to do arts or crafts, listen to books or stare adorably up at me while I cuddle them in my lap.   Because of all the sitting.  Which they do not do.   At all. 

 TV is my friend.  It’s the only way poor mommy gets a break.  

 Which brings me back to the mommy I thought I was going to be.  Like I said, I was never, and I mean never going to yell.  But now, I yell so loud and so often that I’m thinking about buying some of those double pane windows so the neighbors can’t hear my voice echoing into the hinterlands.  

 Nancy

P.S.:  To see something that definitely did NOT work for me, take a look at my Tater Mitts post.  They soooo did not work for me.   

Posted by: Nancy | July 30, 2007

Tater Mitts

Zero Stars.  Seriously.  Z.e.r.o….

 If you know me in real life, you know that I love my gadgets.   So when I saw a commercial for Tater Mitts, I knew I was definitely going to try them. 

 They claim that you can peel a potato in eight seconds using Tater Mitts and dispose of the inconvenience of potato peelers forever.  Being as I hate peeling potatoes, I was all over it.  

I have to admit that I had visions of peeling potatoes with them on our camping trip, to the amazement of my family.   There would be amazement and in-laws taking turns trying my fascinating new find.  “Nancy always finds the neatest stuff.” 

Soooo not going to happen.  In fact, I’m going to need to bag this sucker back up and stash it in my car to return before my husband gets home or else the story around the campfire will be how I got suckered into yet another product that doesn’t work.   Much like the exploding Egg Wave incident of 1999. 

 Lets start at the beginning.  I was very excited to see the Tater Mitts at Linens and Things (for 14.99).   I was even more excited to buy them.  I called my best friend on her cell phone.  I could hardly wait to get home and hide them until my husband left for work put them aside until the morning when I could dedicate some time to try them and pre-write my Works for Me Wednesday post at Rocks In My Dryer for the week.   I would be a hero.  I would get views-o-plenty.  

 Again…  soooo not. 

 This morning, after the kids had had breakfast and were watching Spongebob a carefully chosen educational video, I opened the box and took them out. 

 They are your basic blue rubber gloves except they have hard rubber pieces glued to them.   The shape and texture reminds me of the gravel you put in an aquarium, other than being rubber.  The gloves themselves are pretty big – I’m guessing size extra large.   Not exactly sized for my hands, but not a huge deal either. 

 I put them on and picked up a carefully chosen basic russett potato.  I rubbed as vigorously as I could with huge rubber gloves on my hands.  After about a minute I was getting a small amount of  what really amounted more to surface shredding and grooving (much like anything else would be if scraped across gravel) than peeling.  I could see some small strips of peeled potato so I kept going.  After about another minute (2+ minutes total), I gave up. 

 I wondered if maybe the glove concept and my apparently freakishly small hands had something to do with this product not working.  Maybe if I took off the glove and held it over the center part of my double sink we might get somewhere.  I grabbed another potato and started that way  We did.  It worked.  It took a lot of elbow grease (much like scrubbing a pan) and about two minutes, but I got most of the peel off. 

So after about four minutes total I had one potato that was about 40% peeled and another that was about 75% peeled. 

 So it CAN be done.  But you can also bake a cake in an Easy-Bake oven over a lightbulb.  But it takes for.e.ver.  Much like the Tater Mitts. 

 And I don’t have that kind of time.  Especially since now I have to come up with something else to do for Works for Me Wednesday. 

Oh well.  Live and learn (to keep your receipts).

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | July 30, 2007

A little sad today

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas lately and beginning to plan it in my head.  I guess mostly because that’s our next big family event we’re hosting.  I always start planning and pondering about the next thing.  No matter how far off it is. 

I love Christmas.  The sights.  The smells.  The music.  The food.  The cookies.  Just everything. 

 But it’s also a very painful time for me.  My mom died of breast cancer in Dec 1993.  My dad died of stomach cancer at 12:03 am on Dec 26, 2004.   I could write pages about how much those two sentences hurt.  But I won’t.  Maybe someday. 

I’ve been thinking about all the holiday traditions and Christmases (is that the plural of Christmas?) of my childhood.  My daughter is at the age now that I can remember having the best Christmases when we lived in Virginia from the time I was ages 5-8.  So it’s a little flash-backy.   I love remembering those Christmases, but at the same time it hurts so deep I could never adequately explain it.  So it’s been an odd day for me. 

 I’ve learned something about myself and God over the years.  If I’m having the urge to do something at an unusual time, there’s usually a reason.  Maybe it will be a harder than usual year for me come December.  Having some of the planning and menu-making done will come in handy as it gets closer. 

 Therefore, today, on the ridiculous date of July 29th (for pete’s sake), I’ve started planning Christmas.   I even have a handy-dandy Category on my sidebar. 

 It’s totally going to work in my favor too because we’re in a new house.  The first house I’ve loved since we lived in Virginia 30 years ago.  Seriously.  The next time I move will be when our kids help us move to the retirement resort in Hawaii (believing for big things here… LOL).  

 I want to get Christmas decorations that are specific to specific places in the house.  I want my kids to remember that one snowman that always went on the left side of the mantle and the santa picture that went on the wall next to the front door every year.   Those kind of nostalgic, cozy things. 

 So you’ll have to forgive me for getting all Christmasy at this time of year.   By December, I may very well be entrenched in a stubborn case of the bah-humbugs.  

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | July 28, 2007

The Shared Kitchen, part 2

Today I’m going to be talking about how to create safe areas in which to keep your food and ingredients.

In order to keep your food and ingredients safe in a shared kitchen, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about what you’re dealing with as far as the other people in your house are concerned.   For the most part it isn’t reasonable to expect everyone who enters your kitchen to be just as careful as you are with your food.   So you have to plan accordingly.   Especially at first because everyone is learning this along with you. 

The best case scenario would be that you have an entire cabinet in which to keep your pantry foods and an entire shelf or drawer in the refrigerater in which to keep your refrigerated foods. 

If you can do that,  find a way to visually block off those areas.   A cheap and easy way to do this is with brightly colored post-it notes, a piece of paper with a note indicating that this is your area (For Dad Only!!  or Gluten-free only, please don’t touch!!)  taped to the cabinet, shelf or drawer. 

 If you don’t have enough space to commandeer whole areas, you can also go the box route.   In most stores such as Walmart, Target, etc. you can get various sizes of plastic boxes with lids.  (Make sure you measure the areas where you’re going to keep your food so you don’t end up with boxes that don’t fit.)   You can put your food in the boxes without anyone having to worry about using the wrong thing. 

 If you don’t have the space to do that, you can also label the lids of all your foods and secure them with rubber bands.   In theory just a note or label written on it should keep people out, but I’ve learned from experience that most people are on autopilot and just grab the mayo, peanut butter or whatever and don’t pay too much attention to notes.  So a rubber band usually does the trick to remind them that they shouldn’t be using it.  

 You probably won’t have to go to such extremes forever.   Once the whole household is used to everything you should be able to relax a bit.  But when you’re in the learning/healing process, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | July 28, 2007

The Shared Kitchen, part 1

This is my first post in a series of how to create a shared kitchen for people on the gluten-free diet.  A shared kitchen means that you have gluten-free people and non-GF people in the same household.   

 Also, leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions about this, or anything gluten-related that I can address in future blog entries.  I’d love to help. 

 If you’re just getting started on the gluten-free diet, a kitchen makeover is essential.   In the best case scenario, my advice would be to have a gluten-free household at least for a few months in order to help in the recovery of the person recovering from gluten-induced health problems.    But that isn’t always possible. 

If you have decided to have a shared kitchen, or having a completely GF kitchen just isn’t possible, there are some ways to make it work. 

 You will need:

 – Safe ingredients and a safe place to store them.

 – Safe cookware, bakeware and cooking utensils, and a safe place to store them. 

 – Safe cleaning items and a safe place to store them. 

I guess the best place to start is an explanation of WHY all of this is necessary.  The short answer is that gluten is sticky.  It sticks to and in everything.  Remember making paste out of flour and water in elementary school?  Well, it’s the gluten that makes makes it stick. 

 Since gluten causes an autoimmune reaction (not an allergic reaction) in people who are intolerant to it, as soon as even a tiny amount of gluten enters your system that reaction starts.   It’s more comparable to food poisoning than it is to an allergic reaction, because your immune system incorrectly thinks that gluten is a toxin and will do everything it can to get it out of your system. 

 It is very important for someone on the gluten-free diet to have complete understanding and cooperation when it comes to their food and food preparation.   If not, their recovery will be slow and they may develop worsening symptoms or other related health problems. 

 Well, that’s it from me for right now.  More to come soon. 

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | July 25, 2007

You’ve GOT to be kidding me…

I bought some of those learn to read books a few days ago (for Ruby not me – haha).  I had a set several months ago but with moving, I can only find a few of them.  So I figured I’d get one of the other sets and start over.  Plus, that way I can see if she is actually reading and not just memorizing the story, ya know? 

Well… 

She KNOWS the letter sounds backwards and forwards.  If I ask her to sound out a word, she does it perfectly.  But when I have her go from sounding the word out to putting the sounds together quicker to form the word, she automatically looks at the picture and just starts throwing out guesses.  She doesn’t even connect that the letter sounds actually form the word. 

So I looked online (like I do) and apparently for many years in our state they did a “whole language” approach where they encourage the kids to guess at the words or even skip the words to see if they can frickin’ frackin’ “figure out” what the word might be.  MIGHT.

Are you kidding me?????  

The word is HAT.  HAT.  Not chapeau.  Not fedora.  HAT.  There are no other frickin ways to spell HAT.  Hhhh-Aaaa-Tttt.  Hat.  Don’t teach the kids to look at the picture and guess.  It’s HAT.  H. A. T.  Hat. 

So tonight.  I was trying to teach Ruby and encourage her that everything is hard until you know how to do it.  We’re just going to take it one word at a time.   Don’t worry about it.  Mom’s here to help. 

Now sound it out.  Hhhh…  Aaaaa….  Tttt…..  Good.  Oh my gosh!  That perfect.  You know all that?  Now put those sounds together.   What word does Hhh..Aaa..Ttt.. make?  (eyes go up to the picture)  Fan!  No sweetie.  Hh..Aa..Tt..  Sun!  No.  Let’s look again..  (defeated distraction – what’s that on your nose mommy?)  Let’s read this word.  (looking at her fingers)  It’s okay, we’re just learning.  You’ll get it.  Let’s sound it out.  You’re good at that.  Hh.Aa.Tt.  Hh..At..  At!!  No sweetie not at, but you’re very close.  (Squirming…)  At is a.t.  See, this part is at.  You’re almost there.  Now listen to the first sound.  What’s that first sound?  Hh..  Right.  Now the second part, a.t. says at.  So what do you think that says?  (Looks at picture – no, for the love of God NOOOO!!!!)  Sun!

GAH!!!!!!!!!!

And for this we sent her to preschool…????

I think I’m going to get some flashcards.  

I remember my mom telling me about why she decided to teach me to read before I started school.  The public schools there had a similar teaching concept back in the 70’s.  The concept was that kids could read by remembering the shape of the word.  I don’t know if they did this when anyone else was going to school, but do you remember how you had to draw around the shape of a word?  Well, the concept was that if you could memorize the shape of the word, you could read the word.   My mom was SOOOO not buyin’ it.   At all. 

My mom teaching me how to actually READ the words vs. my husband being taught to read with these concepts shows how well it works.  My husband is very smart, but doesn’t know (nor care about) the difference between the word “peasant” and the word “pheasant”.   I blame that on the schools we went to (we went to the same schools from 7th grade on).  The teachers always let the math-smart kids slide on everything else.  On the other hand, I can accurately spell (and say) the word choledochoduodenoscopy.  And sphygmomanometer.  And psychiatry.  And the different spellings and usages of there, their and they’re. 

I swear if kindergarten does this same “guessing” B.S.  I’m going to be so upset.  I already have a husband who is grammar and spelling illiterate.  I’m not going to look the other way and end up with a child who spells “fan” H-A-T. 

I’m sure they’re gonna love me at kindergarten  —   What do you mean they’re supposed to guess at what H-A-T spells?  Sun is NOT a good guess.  I don’t care if you’re trying to build up her self esteem.  Are you hippies or something?   You’re using the wrong usage of their.  It should be there.  As in – “Is there wheat in that fingerpaint?” 

sigh…

whimper… 

Gah…!!

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | July 25, 2007

Potluck Peril

This idea came to me while I was reading a potluck cookbook.   I haven’t tried it, but I thought it was worth a mention if anyone wants to try it. 

If you are lucky enough to have a group of people at your school/church/etc. who also have gluten intolerance, get together and plan a potluck within a potluck.   Plan who will bring the main dishes, the side dishes and the desserts.   Even if there are just a few people and you have to make more than one dish, it’s always fun to try other people’s favorite dishes.   Even if it’s just your family, to eat safely at a potluck you have to cook your whole meal anyway.  Why not bring it all along to share?

Here are some of my ideas for how to navigate sharing in the main potluck with the regular people.  It’s always fun to watch non-GF people look so surprised when our food is actually good.   “Oh my gosh!  This pasta tastes like pasta!”  

First of all, ask the event coordinator if they will allow you to set up your area in a corner of the room.    If you can’t get a corner (or you have just a few dishes), you can create an area along a wall with a back table and a front table.  You’ll be setting up an area where along the wall(s) you’ll be making a main food area.   Then you’ll take a couple more tables as a front, presentation area where you can put the food out to share with the rest of the potluck.  You’ll also need some sort of indication of a Do Not Enter area.  Crepe paper streamers should work fine. 

 How do you do that and still keep the gluten-free food gluten-free?  Are we talking about everyone making two whole entire dishes of everything?  Nope.  Not at all. 

 My idea is – individual servings in paper bowls placed on the front tables, thereby keeping the main dish that someone brought still safely gluten-free.  Ta-Da!! 

 I would have the area manned by at least one person so that questions can be answered, ingredients confirmed, new bowls put out, etc.    You can also put a sign up saying if anyone is on the GF diet, you can serve from the main dish so that you can make sure they get a GF serving.   You’d just have to decide on some sort of labeling system so people know what you’re serving. 

 Recipes can be printed out to share too.  Just about every time celiac comes up in conversation nowadays I hear that someone’s friend, cousin, hairdresser, etc. is either on or trying the gluten-free diet.  Having recipes to share is always something that people appreciate.  

I think this would work really well.  Let me know if you try it.   I’ll let you know if I do too.  🙂

 Nancy

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