Saturday, June 30, 2007

milkshakes and corndogs and a story.


I spend a lot of time thinking about things to write down. But every time I sit down at the computer, I draw a blank. I have essays in my head about how happy I am, in life, in general, with being gluten-free, in love, all over. I have recipes and ideas that I can't get out. Whats up with that? Right now, I have the whole afternoon to sit here and compose. But what will happen instead is I will write a few paragraphs, then decide to go bake something. Today I think it will be molten lava cakes. Or I will go take a nap. Or read. But never get out all the words in my head. Today I am going to try.

First, lets talk about the snack I just had. At work today I was cutting up some roasted red peppers, which I do near the meat display freezer. While I'm cutting up peppers, a woman (actually, the woman) who works in the meat department was unloading some stuff into the freezer. I looked up, said hello, then went back to my peppers. Then, wait. Hold on. That big box she was unloading said "gluten-free" big across the side! I went over to investigate. Turns out now Bell & Evans makes a line of gluten-free product! After work, I went to buy some because I couldn't think what I wanted to make for dinner. As I'm looking at the selection, I notice the Wellshire Farms corn dogs. They're gluten-free too. I bought a package of the beef ones, and some vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, and ate a corn dog with a chocolate-banana-peanut butter milkshake. Peanut butter chocolate banana milkshake
one bananathree big scoops of vanilla (or chocolate!) ice cream
big dollop of peanut butter
a few big squeezes of chocolate sauce (Ah!laska is gf)
half a cup or less of milk

Combine everything, blend, drink. This is my favorite milkshake.

Applegate farms is another company that is almost all gluten-free. Everything except their chicken pot pie and chicken nuggets. Kozy Shack puddings are gluten free. Anheuser-Busch makes a really good gluten-free beer, Redbridge. More and more products are starting to label their foods gluten-free. Personally, I am more likely to buy a product if it states outright that it is gluten-free, and am more likely to look at the companies other products to see what else I can eat. I know there is a huge word-of-mouth gluten-free community. Every time I find something new and gluten free, I call my mom. She is also gluten-free.

It is getting easier and easier to eat gluten free. I am still met with blank stares a lot of the time when I say I cant eat gluten, a lot of people think I mean sugar (glucose is a completely different thing), but more and more people have heard of Celiac, have heard of a gluten-free lifestyle. I am glad I'm gluten-free. We've all read the stories. We all have our own. We know the cycle- diagnosis, fear about what to eat, acceptance, getting back into the kitchen, embracing the new diet, joy at discovering new foods. I've almost cried reading people's stories. Especially Shauna's of Glutenfree girl. I, and so many others, have such similar stories. I stopped eating gluten without a diagnosis. I cut it out of my diet by choice, but after 9 trips to the hospital in a year. The doctors at the hospital, my normal doctors support my choice. I feel good. It was hard at first, frustrating. My first few baking attempts were terrible. Rubbery, collapsed, hardly resembling what they were supposed to be. Most of the gluten-free food I would buy didn't taste good. I still haven't found a bread I am happy with to make a regular sandwich. Some kinds of bread are decent, but only once have I taken a bite and had to take a break and savor what was in my mouth. (Risotteria, in NYC, has to die for breadsticks. This is also where I tried Redbridge beer for the first time. However, the cake I got after my pizza was a bit disappointing)

Before going gluten-free, I had been vegetarian for 7 years. I am also allergic to seafood (minus tuna) and raw fruit and raw nuts. I went gluten-free and dove right into eating meat. I started with oxtail. It's still one of my favorites. I'm more than a year and a half into being gluten free. And you know what? I'm happy. I've discovered so much joy in baking and cooking and eating. I appreciate everything I eat. I feel so bad for the newly diagnosed who come into Wholefoods looking to get lunch. I steer everyone away from the prepared foods case, because there is so much cross contamination in the case and in the kitchen. People look at me like I've just told them they can never eat again and say painfully "but what can I eat?" I never know the answer to this question. I don't eat much at Wholefoods. I cook my food. But there are so many Americans who can't cook. Or won't cook. I am so thankful I am not one of them. Because if I was, I would be miserable. I'd be sick. I'd be cheating on my gf diet, sneaking pizza and sandwiches because I'd be so sick of the bad gluten free food that's sold. I'm also thankful for my boyfriend. He is so patient and good at adapting his own recipes to gluten-free. He makes a killer Age Tofu, like I used to love in Japanese restaurants. He is also a great taste tester.

I know when I started this I wanted to write a cookbook. That's no longer true. I want to start a gluten-free bakery, first out of my house and then, eventually, hopefully, with a storefront. But baby steps first. Everyone I give samples of my baked goods to tell me I need to go into business. Sell my pies. Cupcakes. Cookies. I think I would be happier doing that than just selling recipes. Because the truth is, I'm not the best at recipes. I bake things the way people cook - adding a little of this and a little of that, and I base things off of things other people have written. I feel like I am plagiarizing, when I know I'm not, really. I developed this classic recipe to gluten-free. But that's not so much what I'm interested in. I want to see the look on people's faces when they taste my food. Not when they use my recipes. I hope you guys use my recipes. But I wish I could be there to see your reactions. The reason I like cooking and baking is to make other people happy. I make myself happy when I am in the kitchen, I want to please you too. When I went to Risotteria with my sister and Alex a while ago, we stood outside reading the letters in the window on our way out. I almost cried. There was a letter from a little girl who had eaten a piece of carrot cake. It was her first piece of carrot cake. She loved it. I want to make that kind of impact on people. I know how hard it is to turn gluten-free. I know how frustrating it is. But gluten-free does not have to be taste-free. Things you bake or cook don't have to have weird flavors and expensive ingredients. Most of my ingredients come from the Asian grocery store, where rice flour is 79 cents a pound. While more expensive than wheat flour, it's cheaper than $4 a pound at Wholefoods or any other grocery store or specialty store. I want to make people happy and help people out of that hopeless pit you fall into when you first start being gluten-free. I have good friends (and family) who support me 100%. In the coming months I am going to try to start selling my product, whether from my house or farmers markets or where ever. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. If you want to be a taste-tester, let me know. I need to figure out how to ship things and how long they last. I have a lot of work to do.

The point to all this is, I am happy. If I hadn't become gluten-free, I don't think I would appreciate food the way that I do. I have always loved food. But when I discover something new, I want to scream it from rooftops. Hey guess what I made! Gluten free dumplings! Gluten free apple pie! Gluten free lasagna!! I dare you to tell me it tastes different!

Last night I made a blueberry pie, it came out beautiful but was too runny inside. I will post a recipe once I work out the kinks. Maybe later I will post again with some dinner recipes. I might be all computered-out for now.
Thanks.

7 comments:

  1. Jill, I'm glad you wrote today, even if you didn't know what you were going to say. I enjoyed reading your post!

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  2. Hi Jill

    That was a fantastic post! I'm so glad you told your story, it great to hear a bloggers story of thier journey to gluten free. Yours has similarities with my own

    Also I didnt start to REALLY cook, untill I couldnt eat convenience food anymore. I'd fallen out of love with cooking, and used loads of convenience foods. Then I had to learn to cook all over again, using differnet rules and foods

    :)

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  3. I know this post is well over a year old, but hopefully you will still be able to read my comment...I think you might be my twin separated at birth. Went GF w/o being diagnosed because I was tired of feeling sick, LOVE to bake and cook by "adding a little of this and that", and I've never made the same recipe twice (but that's because I don't write it down). I would love to start a bakery - yes, out of the house and then a brick & mortar as you describe. I would love it if you would share more about your experience in this. I know by working at Whole Foods and other bakeries, you probably are very familiar with all the codes and regulations. I wouldn't even know where to start! Have you taken any baby steps since this post?

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  4. Sarah-
    Nope, I haven't gotten anywhere. I still want to start a bakery, but have had a lot of things happening. I have no pointers, since I'm waiting for my fiance to take some marketing classes and work out the regulations and stuff for me. I can't do it on my own. Codes and regulations are way over my head. I would try to find out if there is a bakery kitchen in your area, I know there is one by where my mom lives, a kind of communal kitchen that you can rent by the hour and not have to worry about legal stuff since it's all inspected and stuff. One is opening up here in Philly in the spring, if I don't have myself together by then I'll start from there. Goodluck, and email me with any more questions!
    jillelise AT gmail DOT com.

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  5. Thank you for sharing with us the Rice Flour Mix. I'd love to try gluten-free recipes because several friends of mine are allergic to wheat. Again, thanks a lot for sharing.

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  6. Anonymous6:23 PM

    Jill, You are inspirational with your passion for cooking and doing it gluten free. Your excitement is both appreciated and lots of fun. I love your approach to being gluten free and hope more people like you continue to make great healthy choices for us celiac's to enjoy. Thanks for the inspiration! Joe

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  7. Anonymous12:23 PM

    You should be aware that Wellshire Farms corn dogs (and nuggets) are NOT gluten free. After numerous complaints were filed, the FDA stepped in and they are no longer selling them.

    Obviously not your fault as a blogger, but you may want to edit this post to remove your endorsement of their product.

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