42? If that's the answer, I obviously missed the question...

One year down, the rest of my life to go.....
Happy, Dancing
Well, it's official, I've made it my first year gluten-free, and I have never once cheated.  Yippee!!!  It got me to thinking about what specifically I have been without for one full year....

Fast Food - Totally un-American, I know.  In fact, I expect the deportation paperwork to show up any day now. "Back to Russia, you pinko commie!"  But it has been more than 12 months without any Happy Meals, Whoppers, $5 foot-longs, or running for the border.  Occasionally I've missed the convenience, but the fast-food itself? Not so much.

Papa Murphy's Take-n-Bake Pizza - This one I miss enough to give it a separate paragraph, but that's still not missing it enough to make myself sick for it.  Frankly, I'm a little shocked the company has not filed Chapter 11 yet, as prior to my Celiac diagnosis, I think I was personally financing at least three full-time positions at the local franchises.

Migraine Headaches - I was caught by surprise by this one, since I have not gone a month without a migraine since before puberty.  It's totally in the "win" category, but having said that, I have to admit.....I do miss the pain meds once in a while.  Oh well, that's what wine is for, right?

Office Potluck Lunches - Actually, I never really participated before I went gluten-free, as most people I work with (excluding anita_margarita  and supermatt41 of course) are IMHO either (a) crappy cooks, or (b) too cheap to bring something better than a clean-out-the-fridge-and-cupboard-casserole.  Also, having seen how filthy dirty they allow their desks to be, I'm afraid to think about what their kitchens and fridges look like.  Blech!  But now I have an air-tight excuse for skipping out, that can't offend anyone.  Hooray, dietary restrictions!

I'm sure there are quite a number of other things I could list, but for the most part, I don't really feel deprived of anything.  Some food items I'm still looking for the perfect recipe or substitute (delicious GF pizza crust, I will find you, if it's the last thing I do) but all in all, I'm a much happier, healthier person now than I was a year ago.  What I have gained is definitely worth the cost.

Ginger-Yam Fritters
I am a culinary genius.  At least that is what I am telling myself tonight. 

I had no inspiration for what to make for dinner tonight, other than when I bought fresh ginger last night for the Szechwan dish I was making, the G.O. store only had it in bags of 6-7 large pieces.  That's enough ginger for me for about 4 months, if only it would hold that long.  For whatever reason, I also picked up a bag of the small-ish sweet potatoes / yams they had for a great price.  Don't ask me which they are, sweet potatoes or yams, I know there is a difference, but the bag says both things on it.  They are orange-colored inside, that's all I can tell you.

Anyways, I decided this afternoon that I wanted to make something with both of these items.  I've never really cooked much with any kind of potato or tuber other than the standard American russet, so this was stretching my skills a little.  I looked around the internet, and didn't see anything too exciting, until I saw a recipe for "Gingery Sweet Potato Fritters" on cooks.com.  But, they had you boil the potatoes, and then food process them until smooth and creamy, and only then did they add the eggs and flour and such to make them into patties.  It sounded like frying up baby food to me, not at all appealing.  Plus, it only called for 2 teaspoons of grated ginger. I was looking for something more in the neighborhood of tablespoons of ginger, not measly teaspoons!

Then, I remembered a zucchini fritter recipe that anita_margarita had shared with me last summer.  My muse had spoken, and I knew what I was going to do.  And seriously?  They turned out awesome. A little sweet, a little savory, altogether delicious.  The only thing I would do differently next time is have some Greek-style yogurt to go with them.  Yummy!  Okay, here's what I did:

1-3 raw yams/sweet potatoes (depends on size, enough to shred into about 4 cups)
1 large piece of ginger root (enough to shred into about 1/4 - 1/3 cup)
4 eggs
dash of salt
1/4 tsp corriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 TBSP white rice flour
vegetable oil for frying

Scrub, peel and shred the yams (I used the food processor).  Put into a large mixing bowl. Peel and grate the ginger root.  If it is fairly tender, use the large grate; otherwise, use the fine grating tool so it is not too fibrous.  Add to the yams.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and spices.  Pour over yams and ginger, and stir together.  Add the flour one spoonful at a time, stirring in, until thin batter forms and shredded veggies start to stick together just a bit.

Heat about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  When hot, spoon in yam mixture, in about palm-sized clumps, flattening slightly with back of spoon.  I could fit  3 into my skillet.  Let fry on first side for about 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown and firmly cooked together.  Flip, and cook other side for another 3-5 minutes, being sure not to let them burn.  Drain, and serve warm.  Makes about 15-18 fritters.

(no subject)
Nothing much going on with me, but I happened to be surfing over at Open.Salon, and came across this article.  I don't think I would have believed it (I've seen too many of the email jokes about this passed around), but with photos too?  Too funny....

Picasso? De Gas? Hell, I don't even qualify as a Dutch Boy....
rain, clouds
So, this weekend has been an exercise in painting frustration for me. 

When I first bought my house, I ended up having to replace all the interior doors (since the ones in the house all had holes punched in them), so my parents convinced me to go with the pre-hung doors that Home Depot had on sale.  All well and good, they went in with no problems, and look great.  But, they were all unfinished, just kind of a primer yellowish-white color.  I have been wanting to paint them to match the rooms.  Sounds good in theory, doesn't it?

What you have to understand is, these doors have the fancy-shmancy 6 panel design on them.  So, there is not just a plain, smooth surface to roll the paint onto.  Oh no, there are rolls and edges and corners and wells and crap like that all over the friggin' things.  And of course, seeing the pretty designs, I thought "Oooh, here's a good idea, lets paint the main part one color, and the center panel parts the contrast color". 

I wish I wouldn't think so much.

The first part, just rolling on the main color on the outer edges and raised parts in between the panels, went pretty good.  And then, I got to the detail part with the contrast color.  I tried the first panel free-hand.  To my eyes, it looked kinda crappy.  So for the second panel, I tried using the painter's tape that is supposed to magically create crisp, sharp paint lines.  Riiiiiiiiiiiight.  It looked even crappier.

I've now done 4 of the six panels on one side of one door, and I'm just not sure where I'm going to go from here.  I'm trying to convince myself that it really doesn't look that bad, that there is a charm and appeal to something obviously hand-painted instead of machined, and that it won't really take me the next 4 months working evenings and weekends to finish all of the doors.  Unfortunately, I'm a life-long member of the Tribe of Perfectionists, with an advanced degree in OCD. 

Now I know why I've been putting off starting this project for 6 months.

The search continues.....
chosen poorly
Well, I'm still looking for the perfect pizza crust. 

Saturday, my mom tried making some with her own recipe, but replacing the regular flour with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour mix.  Uh, not so much.  We ended up scraping the sauce and goodies off the top, and tossing the soggy under part.  Blech.  Yesterday, she tried using the same flour when she oven fried a piece of chicken for me for dinner.  I have to say, I've never eaten chicken that had to have it's carapace removed, much like a crab.  I'm thinking it's a good thing the flour mix was a freebie she picked up, we still haven't found anything it's edible in yet.

Tonight, I had to stop by the health food store to pick up a couple supplements, and I noticed in the freezer section that they had frozen pizza crusts on sale.  So, for only $5.99, how far wrong could I go? I always liked Boboli pizzas, back in the day, so  I picked up the two-pack of Toovaloo crusts, and away I went.

The verdict?  Only (a) if I'm dying for pizza, and (b) both my arms are broken so I can't mix up dough on my own, and (c) if I have enough toppings to drown the crust.  It wasn't that it was particularly bad, but the crust had a really funny taste to it, unless piled high with sauce, cheese, meat, etc., and (at least in the past) half the reason I like pizza is for the taste of the crust.  Plus, by the time I got to slice #3, it was sogging out, the same as all the others.  <Sigh> So, the search will continue....

Is it my perfume?
rain, clouds
Today was a very good, very enjoyable day, but I was left at the end asking myself a question that seems to haunt me on a semi-regular basis....namely, what is it about me that attracts animals and small children to like me? 

I don't mind the animals so much, but I've often stated (quite loudly even, sometimes) how I don't really care for kids.  I've never had any children of my own, and that's so not the half of it.  I have never wanted any children, I hated babysitting when I was a teenager, and my stock answer to "Don't you LIKE children?" has always been "Yes, I like children, but only oven-roasted, and the marinade is vitally important."  So, what is luring them in?  Is it my perfume?  Do I send out some sort of vibe?  Is it the fact that, not having children of my own, I'm unsure of how to deal with them, so I pay too much attention to them, thereby making myself appealing?

The question came up today, as I went to Sacramento with my parents and Anita (a family friend), to see the stage production of "The Lion King" (which, by the by, I highly recommend - excellent costuming and special effects).  We met up in Sacramento with my cousin's wife, Sarah, and her 7 year old niece, Paige, for lunch, and then we all went to the show together.  Mind you, this was the very first time I had met the 7 year old. 

Within minutes of sitting next to me at lunch, Paige was leaning up against my shoulder, telling me long involved stories about how old her step-brothers were, what grades they were going into at school, how pretty she thought my necklace was, how her Grandma had bought her the new dress she was wearing, and did I think the color was pink or more of a salmon color (swear to heaven, I'm not exaggerating here) and I can't even remember what else.  By the time my salad came, we were close enough friends that she felt no compunctions about snitching olives off my plate.  Which was fine with me, I didn't care about the olives, but it's just that I can't think of any friends I have that I was comfortable enough with the first time I met them, that I would have eaten off their lunch plate.

After lunch we walked a couple blocks over to the theater (guess who's hand she held while crossing the streets), and then had about a half-hour to kill before they opened up.  So, I got a crash refresher course in the finer points of "I-Spy".  Kind of fun, actually, and that little booger was very observant and perceptive.

I thought once we were in the theater, I might be spared a little of her attention, but no such luck.  Nothing doing, we re-arranged seating so that I and Auntie Sarah were on each side of Paige.  She was actually very well-behaved, and only asked a few questions during the performance.  I really have nothing to complain about, she was quite good, minded very well, and was actually a delightful little girl.

I just don't know why I was her BFF for the day.

Pillaging & Plundering
chosen wisely
Today was an awesome day.

anita_margarita had sent me an email earlier in the week, about the first annual Gluten Free Faire being put on by the Celiac Sprue Association, Sacramento Chapter.  So, since I and my parents had nothing better to do (and my mom wanted to avoid a BBQ invite they had been given by a couple she really doesn't much like), we headed down the 160 miles of I-5, leaving at 7 am this morning.  We found the church where the fair was being held, got a parking place, and got in line.  We had to sign waivers that we would not sue them if any of the vendors had screwed up, or if we didn't read all the labels ourselves carefully, and ended up getting sick.  That took up the most time, and then there was a $1 admission fee per person.  I think we got our moneys-worth.  In fact, I think we almost got enough freebies and samples to make up the cost of the gasoline used in the trip.

After a mere one hour, between the three of us, we had 3 full-sized grocery bags filled, to the top, with samples of cookies, crackers, chips, bread mixes, flour substitutes, sugar substitutes, granola bars, hot cereal mixes, nuts, condiments, bag clips, pens, measuring spoons, spatulas, and coupons, coupons, coupons.  Some of the "samples" were even full-size items, including bags of the flour substitute mixes, which retail for $8-12 in a grocery or health food store.  SCORE! 

And that was just the take-away stuff.  While there, we got to eat samples of donuts, coffee cake, sour dough bread, crackers, muffins, cookies, cheesecake, tortes, banana bread, pasta, veggie burgers, chocolate, toffee, caramels, candy bars, energy bars, cake with frosting, and memory fails as to what-all else.  It was a gluten-free smorgasbord, heavy on the desserts and sweets.  No complaints from over here!

I actually felt a little embarrassed by the amount of stuff we were hauling out of there, but all the vendors were generous to the point of being insistent that we all three take the stuff they had there.  A few were selling items too, but the majority were just handing things out.  I think at least a third of the bag of goodies came from the Raley's/Bel Air table alone.  Once we were finished, I felt like a pirate that had just pillaged and plundered my way across the entire civilized world.  It was fun!

By the time we had been to every table at least once (some of the really good samples did get hit up twice), the place was starting to get packed with people, and the air conditioner was not handling it too well.  So we rolled out of there, hit a Ross store we had seen on our way into the neighborhood, just to see if they had anything good (my dad found 2 pairs of dress slacks), stopped at the Woodland Costco (looking for Ready Crisp bacon, to no avail), and then blasted back up 1-5.  We did stop at Granzella's for a late lunch, which is a restaurant I highly recommend if you are passing that direction.  Their Muffuletta Mix is to-die-for good.

All in all, an awesome day indeed.

The best news in weeks
Happy, Dancing
Today at the office, supermatt41  and I had a meeting with the current guru for all things IT.  He let slip to us that in the near future, we may once again be allowed to access social networking sites at the office.  Woo-hoo!  I'll be able to keep up on my LJ again, finally!!!

My new favorite outdoor toy
Being a new homeowner, I'm also new to the whole yard-work shtick.  My dad, bless his heart, had been saving an older gas-powered lawn mower for me for years, just waiting for me to buy a house.  He showed me several weeks back how it worked, and was pleased as punch with himself.....until we got to the part where my trick shoulder wasn't up  to the job of pulling the rip cord hard or fast enough to actually start the sucker.  But he assured me, it would just take some practice.  Hmph.

Well, the parents are out of town for a couple weeks on a Northern Europe cruise, and the grass weeds were getting waist-high in spots.  I could not get the $%&(*(@#$%& mower started, so I bought myself a new toy.  I now have an electric lawn mower, and it ROCKS.  Still hard work, still not something in my top ten list of "Most Fun Ways To Spend A Saturday Morning", but smooth, easy to start, runs like a dream, pollutes the environment far less, and mows perfectly well.  It's my new favorite (sorry cordless weed-eater---I still love you too, but being cordless, you just don't have the same stamina as the mower).  I even manages to mow both front and back yards, in less than two hours, without running over the extension cord even once.  Yay, me!

Another kitchen success story (mostly)
chosen wisely
Well, I've tried two new recipes so far this weekend, and at least one of them was a complete and total success.  The other, well, let's just say I'll be trying something different in the future.

Friday night, I wanted pizza for dinner.  Real pizza, not frozen cardboard with some ketchup smeared on it under the cheese-like product.  So, I tried making my own (wheat-free) crust.  This is actually the third pizza crust recipe I have tried.  The first one was a mix (Bob's Red Mill), and it was both disappointing, and outright crappy.  The second was a recipe my mom found and tried, and it was only mediocre-crappy.  I had high hopes for this new recipe, as the dough was almost like a regular wheat-flour dough, with some body and elasticity to it.  Most of the gluten-free doughs I have worked with so far are all very wet, sticky, and end up more like a quick bread than a yeast bread dough.  This pizza crust,  I was actually able to knead, and roll out fairly thin.  But the love affair took a steep nose-dive from there, as the semi-baked version was almost flavorless (I sneaked a bit before I put the toppings on and finished baking it), and the final product ended up the same as every other pizza I've tried so far....namely, crappy and soggy.  <sigh>  Oh well, I have a line on another recipe, so I'll keep trying.  In the meantime, it's killed my appetite for pizza again.

Tonight, I decided to try, once more, for some bread that actually has the same body and texture as wheat-flour bread.  I had made a trip earlier in the day to That Kitchen Place (since I decided maybe the pizza problem was my pan) and invested in a pizza stone, and also found a couple loaf pans and a french bread form that I couldn't pass up. So, I got out my cookbook, and decided on Brioche French Yeast Bread to try out the new form.  It was not too much of a pain (unlike some of the recipes I have tried to date), and despite the dough once again coming out very wet and sticky compared to how I thought it should be...the finished bread is good.  Really good.  Really, REALLY good, as in I can't tell a difference between it and some of the store-bakery sweet french bread I've had in the past.  Woo-hoo!  Tomorrow, it's going to be given the real test...I'm still trying to find a bread that I can make into garlic toast.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this french bread might be "the one".

Tomorrow's big recipe to try will be fried rice.  I boiled up the jasmine rice tonight, and diced all my veggies and the left-over beef I'm throwing in (something like BBQ pork fried rice, only with tri-tip beef instead), so it should be fairly quick.  Then I can box up and/or freeze down part for future lunches and dinners.  I'm finding that I actually kind of like cooking again, and being able to cook in large quantities without feeling guilty for making such a mess just for myself. 


Log in