Monday, 29 December 2014

The Holidays

Well, I've been pretty quiet on here the last couple of months, mostly because I haven't really had anything relevant to blog about, but I think the holidays in general are pretty relevant to all with special dietary requests. So here is how I got through my holidays:

Christmas Dinner Theatre

The first Christmas event that I attended was a lovely Christmas dinner theatre. Pretty basic concept - they feed you dinner, then you watch a play. The play was Christmas-themed, of course, and I loved it. It was amazing.

The dinner, however, was pretty so-so. When I called to buy the tickets, I asked if they would be able to accomodate me in any way. I was pretty open-minded about options. The lady said that most of the dinner was already gluten-free, so I would just be able to eat anything. Well, anything besides the stuffing, the pasta salad, the gravy, and the buns, of course. Well, that left turkey, ham, potatoes, corn, and fruit salad. It wasn't what I would call a plentiful banquet to begin with, so knocking out half the options made it pretty depressing. Oh, and the fruit salad was right next to the buns so I couldn't trust it.

I did try to make the best of it though - I loaded up on mashed potatoes and corn, and I smothered my dry turkey in (pre-packaged) butter, and put on a happy face. And you know, that plate of food was pretty delicious. Maybe not worth what I paid for it, and maybe not what I would call "accommodating" but hey, it's the holidays.

Work Christmas Party

Two days later, we had my work Christmas party to attend. Ahead of time, I asked one of the organizers about the meal, and she contacted the catering company. They promised to make and set aside an un-contaminated plate of food with my name on it.

When it came time for my table to go get food, I grabbed a waiter and told him my name. He returned shortly with a plate stuffed with roast beef, turkey, roasted potatoes, and hot vegetables. There was an au jus on the turkey, which they assured me was gluten-free (without me asking), but everything else was dry and sauce-less (which I prefer, for safety reasons alone). I barely finished my plate of food and I was stuffed for the rest of the evening.

The organizer also made sure to have at least two gluten-free alcohols on hand, so I ate and drank without a worry. It was a really lovely party, and I loved how care-free I felt.

Work Potluck

Quite possibly the source of the most anxiety for me was a potluck hosted at work. As I've mentioned before, I love potlucks, and I love bringing food to them, so despite my fears, I signed up. I decided to bring a potato dish as well as a dessert so that I would be able to eat real food and junk food (genius, right?). I brought slow cooker scalloped potatoes and some cheesecake truffles. Both went over really well.

As for what I ate, I did some spy-like work ahead of time, and casually asked a couple people what they were bringing and what they were putting in it. Then I went through the line and scoped out about four different dishes I could eat. I also dumped a bunch of raw veggies on my plate too, so no one would see and empty plate and pressure me about going back for seconds. I know, I go to a lot of work to avoid people saying anything, but it worked - nobody said anything. I was feeling a little sick right after lunch, because I ate a lot of dairy, but I figured that was pretty unavoidable.

Holiday Baking

As tends to be the rule for celiacs, I knew the only Christmas baking I would be eating was what I made. I made the cheesecake truffles from the potluck, and then I also whipped up some bacon peanut brittle and some chocolate walnut banana bread. Both went over very well, and I enjoyed them as well.

Home for the Holidays

The next big step in our holiday plans were that we were driving 'home' to Moose Jaw on Christmas Eve and staying with my in-laws through the weekend. That means four days full of meals that I wasn't certain about. I didn't want my mother-in-law to worry about every ingredient in every meal, and I didn't want to be eating out constantly, and I didn't want to compulsively wash every dish in their kitchen. So, in answer to all that, when we got to Moose Jaw, my first stop was a grocery store, and I bought four days worth of freezer dinners. That way, the only dish I needed was a fork, and I could have a quick, safe meal at any time.

Yeah, also picked up granola, oranges and Coke. Can't make it through a weekend without those.

However, I didn't need half of what I bought. I ended up leaving three meals behind in the freezer, and I didn't even touch my oranges or granola. My MIL had actually taken a few steps to carefully cook for and feed me as much as she could, without my permission. Haha. She cooked up a delicious ham and potatoes meal on Boxing Day, and she also had a supply of oranges, chips, and nuts so that I didn't go hungry.

Not that I regret any of the meals I bought! When it comes to my food, I would rather be safe than sorry!! And I think that freezer/microwave meals are pretty safe. Quick, easy, uncontaminated, and I never get to eat them at home.

Christmas Dinner

For Christmas dinner, my mother hosted a feast, as she has every year for as long as I can remember. I was, as usual, a little anxious about it, but I shouldn't have been.

My mother bought and made gluten-free gravy and gluten-free stuffing. She made them just for me and nobody else got any of them (there was plenty of regular gravy and stuffing). Both of parents also ensured that I got the first helping from every dish. They didn't let anyone else grab any food until I had grabbed some, so that the serving utensils couldn't be contaminated. Mind you, the only contaminants were the other stuffing and gravy.

So, I was pretty impressed by their effort, and I ate until I was stuffed. And then of course, my mother pulled out a gluten-free torte for dessert (and tarts for anyone else).

New Year's Eve

For New Year's Eve, I've decided to host another little party at my house, so there won't be any chance of contamination. I'm kind of excited. Much like last year, I'll make a few appetizers ahead of time, and hope they go over just as well.

So, I made it through all of December without getting glutened once. How about you? What were your survival techniques?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tutti Frutti

Let's talk about frozen yogurt for a moment.

I have always been an ice cream kind of gal. I love a big bowl of creamy frozen milk, and it was a staple growing up. It's kind of hard now, because dairy makes me so sick and I just don't think that bowl of frozen deliciousness is worth it. I occasionally buy dairy-free ice creams, but they always let me down.

The other problem I have with ice cream is when it comes to a last-minute date. Our old house was a block away from a cute little ice cream shop, so in the summer, hubby and I would walk the dog down and take a little "date" out of our day to enjoy some ice cream.

Well, that's great. And I love it, but again, I don't love feeling sick afterwards.

Now, our new house is a few blocks away from Tutti Frutti (and by few, I mean a few too many to walk). Several times since we've moved, my husband and I have driven over and enjoyed some time together there.

If you've never been to Tutti Frutti before, they usually have ten or so different flavours of frozen yogurt, and you grab a bowl and fill with as much of whatever flavour you like. Then they have a topping bar, and you can put anything from sprinkles to cookies to candies to fruit on top of your fro-yo. And then you pay by the weight.

Every time I've been, they have two dairy-free flavours, usually one soy-based ice cream, and one fruit sorbet. I usually get a little of each, and while I can't enjoy any of the toppings, my husband does. (It's buffet style. Having one dish of cookies means I can't touch anything on there. And then the sprinkles and carmel sauce are iffy, so I just enjoy my plain dairy-free dessert.)

I love it. I get to enjoy my pseudo-ice cream, my husband gets to enjoy his completely-overloaded-frozen-yogurt and we get to spend a little time together.

If you're in the mood for a sugar coma, or if you're looking to go out and enjoy dairy-free dessert, check out Tutti Fruitt!

Tutti Frutti on Urbanspoon

Monday, 6 October 2014

Panago Pizza

Ordering in pizza is hard, as a celiac. Most pizza places carry a gluten-free crust, but their contamination policies vary, and it's hard to say whether it'll be safe or not. However, because ordering in pizza is the most convenient, simple, and tasty dinner ever, I keep doing it, despite the risks. When we lived in Moose Jaw, we tried a couple of different places, and I always tried each place more than once. But if it made me sick more than once, I gave up and moved on to another place. There was only one place I could consistently eat without getting sick, and my husband didn't like their pizza. So ordering in pizza was actually quite the ordeal.

On the day that we moved to Saskatoon, we had several people helping us unload, and we were all hungry, so I went online and ordered in some pizza.

I picked Panago, on a whim, and I don't know if I'll ever try anywhere else ever again.

Their online ordering system is smooth, straight-forward and very customizable.

They do have a gluten-free crust, which I think is bigger than most places, but it's been awhile since I ordered in pizza, so don't quote me on that. The best part though, is that you can select Daiya dairy-free cheese to top your pizza with!

So I ordered in a gluten-free, dairy-free pizza with all the toppings I wanted (they have a list of gluten-free toppings, so you're sure) and I didn't get sick at all! There wasn't any dairy to upset my stomach, and I didn't get glutened! We've ordered it in three times now, and I've had the same success.

My husband wants to keep trying other places that we didn't have in Moose Jaw, but they don't have dairy-free cheese, so I'm reluctant. Haha.

I realize most of my friends who don't have dietary restrictions prefer other places, but if you are worried about either gluten or dairy, I would highly recommend Panago.  

Panago Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, 3 October 2014

London Jack's Fish & Chips in Regina

Inconveniently, I fell in love with a restaurant in Regina, shortly after I moved to Saskatoon. I don't know the next time I'll be in Regina, but I promise whenever that is, I will be eating at London Jack's Authentic British Fish & Chips. As their name might suggest, they specialize in authentic fish & chips, and everything deep-fried.

Wait. Why is a celiac going to a restaurant that deep fries everything? Well, because not only do they have gluten-free flour and batter, they have a dedicated gluten-free deep frier. What? That's right! Dedicated gluten-free fish and chips. Deep-fried, just like everybody else!

They have a very small restaurant, with an order counter and three small tables. The deep friers are behind the counter, and you can watch the cooks work while you wait for your take-out (unless one of the tables happens to be open). I did watch, because I'm paranoid, and I noticed that they have a whole bunch of green utensils, and anything that's green only gets used for gluten-free orders. I don't even need to tell them it's an allergy, they treat it like one anyways.

I was blown away, and super excited.

Hubby and I went to this restaurant a couple weeks ago when we were in Regina. We had a hard time finding it, but I was determined. When we got there, I scoped it out, and asked a bunch of questions, and when I was satisfied that I could really, truly have battered fish and french fries, I ordered just that! Hubby ordered the same, but with regular batter, and we sat down to wait.

One small thing that amazed me was when the next guy walked up and ordered some fish, and the server asked "Gluten-free or regular?" Gluten-free isn't a side choice there, on a seperate menu that you have to know about. It's right up there with everything else they serve. Their menu is just a laminated piece of paper on the counter, and the items on the menu are all either in black or green font. The green items are ones that are gluten-free. So I don't have to check if I can have the deep-fried pickles. I just have to select a green item. How awesome is that?

On top of being awesomely gluten-free friendly, they also make the most amazing fish and chips I've ever had. Seriously. I'm not a fish and chips kind of person, but this was the best I've ever had. They also serve deep-fried pickles, mars bars or cola. Yeah, cola. We got some deep-fried Dr Pepper for dessert. It was awesome.

I would highly reccomend this place whether or not you eat gluten-free. I would, however, suggest planning for takeout. But other than their small storefront, there is not a bad thing I could say about this place. So check it out, as soon as you can!

London Jack's Authentic British Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Opa! of Greece in Saskatoon

Eating out for lunch is a wee bit difficult, because I work in an industrial area, and there aren't very many restaurants close enough to make it there and back in an hour, and even less of them have gluten-free options.

But when my friend asks if I want to make a lunch date, how can I say no?

I had recently eaten at the best GF places in the area, so I did some UrbanSpoon research, and suggested Opa!

The North Industrial location opened recently, within the last month I think. As such, there weren't very many reviews on UrbanSpoon, but they were rated gluten-free friendly, and the company's website had a small, limited gluten-free menu posted.

The lunch hour was crazy busy, with a line all the way back to the door from the moment I walked in until I left to go back to work. When I got to the front of the line, I told the girl that I had a gluten allergy. She immediatly pulled out a gluten-free menu, and I quickly ordered off of that. I also asked if she could make note that it was an allergy, and she enthusiastically nodded and pushed a bunch of buttons.

I ordered a small greek salad, a lamb souvlaki and a chicken souvlaki. Since my friend ordered before me, when she was called up to select what went on her wrap, I followed to watch how they made my food.

The girl at the counter (a different girl from the till) handled my friend's pita, touching the wrap itself with her gloves, and after handing it off, she pulled out a plate and spooned some salad onto it. I was bothered that she didn't change her gloves, but I didn't want to be that person so I didn't say anything, until a piece of lettuce fell off the plate onto the crumby counter and she picked it up with her gloves and put it back on my plate.

I stepped forward. "Is that the greek salad?"


"Could you actually change your gloves?"


"It's an allergy. Could you change your gloves?"

She looked the the slip of paper in front of her that I knew had my order on it and rolled her eyes. "You want me to remake this?" She looked a little indignant, and I felt bad, but I nodded. She tossed the small salad in the garbage, and slowly changed her gloves. Then she went through the same process of spooning out my salad and added two skewers of meat on top.

A couple more things bothered me, but I let them drop.

First of all, she didn't wipe down the counter or use a fresh spoon. Two small things that would make a big difference to me. Second, while spooning out my second salad, she asked her coworker to start making the next pita (since, you know, changing her gloves really put her back...).

So here are my problems with this restaurant... They have a gluten-free menu, and the girl at the till understood and seemed positive about an allergy, so I was hopeful. I thought that if she is knowledgeable and helpful, surely I'll be fine, right? Wrong. The people making the food have clearly not been trained on how to handle an allergy, which I would expect from a restaurant that rates itself as gluten-free friendly on UrbanSpoon.

I mean, sure. It's not 100% gluten-free and I'm taking a risk, and blah blah blah, but a business needs to train their food handlers on how to handle an allergy. What if it was an anaphylactic allergy like garlic or nuts? Would she have taken it seriously? Honestly, I doubt it. And that's a major health concern.

Oh, and I got sick. Yep, changing her gloves wasn't enough. I have my headache, fogginess, stomach pains and all the other wonderful symptoms that go along with accidentally consuming gluten. I'm sad, but I don't think I'll be able to go back to Opa! again.

However, my friend thouroughly enjoyed her pita/wrap thing, and the restaurant was clean, quick and delicious. If you eat gluten-free because of a preference, or if you don't care to eat gluten-free, I would reccomend this place. However, if you have an allergy of any sorts, I wouldn't bother going here. If you absolutely have to, maybe call ahead and ask about their allergy procedures...

Opa! of Greece on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Conversations about Crackers

N: "Hey, do you want some crackers? They're healthy."

J: "Well of course they are. They're not poison."

N: "Oh, Robynne, do you want some?"

R: "No thanks."

J: "Why? Do you think they'll poison you?" (Obviously joking)

R: "Umm, actually they would."

N: "Oh, are you allergic to something?"

R: "Yep."

N: "Is it gluten?"

R: "Yep."

N: "Preference or allergy?" (And immediately got distracted by someone else talking to her for a few seconds.)

J: "Oh, it's a preference, but I bet she says it's an allergy."

Umm... excuse me?

A) You have no place saying that, ever. About anyone. To make an assumption that someone is attention-needy and dramatic is rude, assuming, and officially classifies you as a jerk.

B) You don't know me well enough to make a joke, if that's what you were trying to do.

C) If you did know me better, you would know that I have celiac disease (which is not an allergy) and that people who don't eat gluten out of preference but go around saying it's an allergy are the people that make my life the most difficult.

D) I wish I had a preference. I wish I was turning those crackers down by choice. I wish I had made this decision for myself. I only wish that I had any say in whether or not I eat gluten.

So before you go saying judgmental, rude, assuming statements about somebody, maybe get to know them first.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the above conversation, it did continue...

R: (After staring at J for a solid few seconds, I regained my composure.) "I have celiac disease."

J: "What?"

R: "I have celiac disease."

J: "What's that?"

R: "It's an auto-immune disorder." (I know I was being unhelpful, I was still a little thrown off, and I figured if someone is going to go around saying that other people call it an allergy, they would at least know what an allergy sounds like.)

N: (Finally able to rejoin the conversation.) "It means she can't eat gluten because her body attacks itself."

And that was pretty much the end of that whole conversation. I was really impressed by N who had knowledge of gluten preference, allergy and celiac disease, without having anyone in her immediate life who is afflicted.

And I was really upset at J. I don't even care if he's ignorant and unaware and the general public needs more education. That was rude.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Home is Where the Heart Is

For the last two weeks, I have been confusedly referring to both my house in Moose Jaw and the place I'm staying in Saskatoon as home.

After a couple of days at "home" in Moose Jaw, I drove "home" to Saskatoon, and was trying to figure out why it's not bothering me that I think of both as home.

Well, home is where the heart is.

So, where is my heart?

Half of my heart is here in Saskatoon, in the big city, filled with people I care about, places I want to go, events I want to attend. I feel at home here, because my heart is here.

But half of my heart is still in Moose Jaw, because my husband is there.

And sure, the house he's still living in feels like home because it's filled with our furniture, boxes of our stuff, and our pets, but mostly it's home because that's where the other half of my heart is.

I'm not going to feel complete until he is here.

I'm not going to feel truly at home anywhere for another two weeks.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Very First Fried Chicken

Have you ever made fried chicken? I hadn't.

I've made baked, "breaded" chicken and I've made cutlets, which is beef or pork breaded and fried, but I had never made friend chicken. Guess that goes to show how far North I must live. ;)

My sister and I (absurdly) married fellows who share a birthday. Since they only just got married, we agreed we had to do something with the four of us, and settled on cooking dinner at their brand new house.

Growing up, my family's birthday tradition was that my mom would make your favourite meal (or whatever you requested) on your birthday. My sister and I tried to get our husbands to name their favourite meal so we could cook that, but neither would. So I suggested mashed potatoes and cutlets, which was probably the most common birthday meal in our family. Everyone agreed, and my sister and I went out to buy the groceries. We found everything except the cutlets... So we bought chicken fillets instead, and called it good.

I breaded the chicken, and as I was setting them in the frying pan, I realized I was making fried chicken. The two guys then thought it completely absurd that I had never made fried chicken, although I've never even had homemade fried chicken.

Anyways, I was really concerned that making it gluten-free would make it less good, but everyone was amazed at how good it was and insisted they couldn't tell.

I used white rice flour, rather than a GF flour blend, and I bought some rice bread crumbs, both of which I doubted.

I followed my mother's instructions on making cutlets. I mixed some seasoning salt into the flour, then coated the raw chicken in that. Then it got a raw egg bath, before being covered in bread crumbs and dumped in the frying pan. My sister got a fancy-dancy fried chicken frying pan for her wedding, which is extra deep and has a screen lid. I had probably an inch of melted margarine in the pan (forgot to pick up olive oil, might try coconut oil next time), and I fried it until it looked done. I warned everyone to cut into the chicken to check for doneness, because I was too afraid of burning it.

This left us with tender chicken meat, covered in crispy breading, which was tasty, moist, perfectly cooked, and paired with mashed potatoes perfectly. Also, something that my fast-food-deprived-mouth was excited to eat (read: reminded me of a lot of restaurant food I haven't been able to enjoy).

Very simple birthday dinner, but something that I enjoyed cooking and will definitely be making again.

Monday, 28 July 2014

My Life, Lately

I'm not going to apologize for not blogging lately, and I'm mostly just here to tell you I can't imagine I'll be blogging much for the next few weeks.

I already told you that we're moving to Saskatoon, but now all the little details are finalized. I start my job two weeks from today, and I'll be staying in a friend's guest room for four weeks, until we move into our new place on September 5th. My husband will be staying at home for those four weeks, and I'll be living out of a couple plastic totes.

I found out a week ago, and I have spent every single day since then packing, cleaning and sorting. With an hour or so of downtime to play The Sims. (The Sims 4 comes out in September, so I have to play lots of The Sims 3 now, right?)

So here's my life, lately:

Packing. So. Much. Packing. I'm trying to pack up as much of the house as I can now so that my husband doesn't have to do it all after I leave. I'm also doing it all alone, because he'll have to do everything else once I'm gone. It's kind of tricky to pack all the stuff that won't be needed in the next month and a half (or rather two months to play it safe - who knows when we'll finish unpacking). Lola (above) loves how all these cardboard boxes are sitting around.

The other tricky thing is packing my clothes. I've sorted through my wardrobe and put everything in one of four piles:

  1. Get rid of. I don't care if it's donate or garbage, but I'm trying to really purge my clothes.
  2. Pack into a cardboard box. If I don't think I'll wear it in the next two months, it's going in a labelled cardboard box, to be opened sometime in September.
  3. Keep out. I still have two weeks of work left here, so I have to make sure to keep some work clothes, some comfy clothes, and some regular clothes out.
  4. Plastic totes. If I'm not going to wear it in two weeks, but will wear it in two months, it goes into a plastic bin to go to Saskatoon with me.
As I'm sure you can imagine, category 3 & 4 got a little tricky later on, so I made it simpler. I decided to wear all of my favourite things during the last nine days of work at my current job. All the weirder stuff (super vintage, a little risque, a little difficult to pull off) needs to be worn before I start a new job and have to figure out a new "dress code". So I went through and pulled out twelve of my favourite/weirdest dresses or skirts. I then put together whole outfits, including tank tops, tights and sweaters, and put one full outfit on a hanger in the closet. When I had twelve of these hangers (nine work days, plus a little wiggle room to allot for mood and weather) I packed all of my other work clothes, including all of my dress pants. This means that for two weeks, I can't wear pants to work! No matter how lazy I feel. Yay!

So what you're looking at a above is a snapshot of my side of the closet, in the terrible lighting that is my house. I know it just looks like a normal closet, but right next to the green dress is a blue dress with a cream-coloured bolero. And the mint dress next to that has a tank top underneath. My closet is so impressive right now, and I feel so organized!

I'm done with all the clothes from my dresser and my closet. I still have some dirty laundry that I need to wash and sort, and I'll have to do laundry the day or so before I leave and pack all these lovely dresses that I have left out.

So... There's my life. I guess I'm finishing that binge of cleaning I started months ago. Although, you know, all of this would be a lot easier if I'd finished purging and cleaning back then. Ugh.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My 200th Post!

Hey guys! This is my 200th post!

When I started this blog, I thought I'd hit 200 in the first year, but I was being silly when I thought I could blog every day. Well, sort of silly. I did blog every day for a while, and it really helped me in the beginning. Eventually, I stopped needing the daily vent and I stopped having new gluten-free adventures every day.

I've been thinking for a couple of weeks of what to do for my post #200. It seems like kind of a big deal. Maybe I'd make a new recipe? Maybe I'd do a round-up?

Well, I have big news to share instead!

I am moving to Saskatoon! This small town girl is about to live in the big city!

I start a new job up there on August 11th, and my husband will move up when we have a place, which hopefully will be September 1st. Things might get a little weird in the interim, so bear with me.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Why I Love Vintage

There's a quilting store here in town; it's the only place within an hour's drive that sells fabric, so on a whim, I wandered in, hoping to find something to make a dress out of. I chatted with the lady working, an older Polish lady, and told her I wanted to make a dress. She told me she just sold cotton and fleece, things to make blankets with.

I meandered over to the sale rack, and picked up a colourful print. "Could I make a skirt out of this?"

She laughed. "Maybe a poodle skirt."

"Right. Like a 1950's circle skirt?"

Her eyes lit up. I realized she had been joking, and when she realized I wasn't, she just got so excited.

Every time I talk to older women and ask advice on how to do my hair, or genuinely ask about fashion and makeup of forgotten times, their eyes light up. I'm sure they're used to young people snubbing the bygone ways, and they're happy to hear someone is interested in their lost arts.

This. This is one of the reasons I love vintage. I love when the elderly lady tells me all about the day she got her tea towels, and I love learning the perfect way to place a set of hot rollers. I love learning about anything mid-century, and my favourite people to hear it from are the ones who were around.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I bought the fabric. It was half price, and I bought more than I needed for $20.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Street Fairs + Celiacs

Recently, there was a street fair here in town. They shut down one of the main streets, and set up booths, vendors, games and stores all the way down the road. My hubby and I actually ended up going for at least an hour on three different days. He knows a lot of people, and a lot of people wanted to stop and talk to him.

There were probably at least 12 different food booths. When we got hungry on the first day, I told my husband he could eat wherever he wanted, I would surely find something.

I started out at the sushi restaurant. Except that I'm realizing I can't really eat sushi. I used to just get crab rolls, but I found out recently they use imitation crab, and the one package of imitation crap that I could check the ingredients on contained wheat flour. Most of the rolls are various types of tempura, which just plain doesn't work for me, and then anything cooked, like squid, doesn't work because it may be contaminated while cooking. That leaves the salmon rolls, and I'm possibly allergic to salmon (*I've never had enough salmon to determine if I am allergic, but my doctor told me to just avoid it anyways). And all that leaves is veggie rolls. Which are good, I guess, but not filling or satisfying.

On the second day there, I just gave up on sushi, and hunted through the other food booths. The one that is famous for fried chicken was also selling taco in a bag. I asked to see the bag of chips they use, and happily they were zesty cheese Dorritos that also say Gluten-free on the back, so then I asked the fellow what they add to it. The expected sour cream, salsa, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and beef. So I asked about the beef. At that point, the guy asked what I was looking for. I told him wheat or gluten, so he checked the beef, and then asked me if soy protein was okay. Hooray!! I can eat the taco in a bag!!

I then had three tacos in bags over the next two days. I couldn't find anything else that I could eat, besides lemonade, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas, and shaved ice.

The other celiac moment for me was when my husband saw a couple that he knew and took me over to introduce them. The fellow popped a mini donut in his mouth, brushed off his hand, and stuck it out to shake my hand. I apologized, and told him I couldn't shake his hand. I then, of course, had to explain and he was completely flabbergasted that shaking his hand could be a risk for me. But at the moment, I was drinking a smoothie. I kept stirring the drink with the straw, and I explained that if I shook his hand and then touched my straw, I could easily get sick. I felt like such a jerk for not shaking his hand, but I just saw the mini donuts in one hand and freaked out.

I'd like to forget about my celiac, and I'd love to pretend the whole world eats the same food as I do, but events like street fairs remind me how unusual I am, and how difficult my dietary needs are.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Chili's Grill & Bar in Regina

I don't spend a lot of time in Regina, so I don't know it very well. When my husband and I decided to meet my brother and his wife in Regina for a late lunch, I pulled out my phone and did a quick search on Urbanspoon for gluten-free friendly restaurants. Chili's came up, and I am always in the mood for Mexican food (even lame Canadian-ized Mexican food), so I basically insisted we go there.

When we got there, I flipped through the menu, hunting for anything that said anything about gluten-free. On the very last page, I found a note that said "Gluten menu available upon request."

First of all, restaurants really need to work on their phrasing. I don't want a "gluten menu". I want the exact opposite of a "gluten menu". I also don't want "gluten friendly menus" like most restaurants offer. I realize their intent, and I understand that a "gluten friendly menu" will have gluten-free dishes listed, but I would prefer if they called it "Gluten-free friendly" or "Gluten aware" or something that actually suggests there is no gluten.

Anyways... I tracked down a hostess and asked her for a gluten-free menu, and she said "We don't have any." I pointed out the note on the menu and she explained, "Yeah, we used to have them, but our whole menu changed so now we don't." Okay, so you got new menus. I get that. But your new menu says you have a menu for me, but you don't, because you got new menus. Hmmm.

Whatever, I can handle that. The hostess said the waitress would be able to point out some options for me, so I waited for the waitress. When she came, I explained I have a gluten allergy, and asked what I could eat. She said "Well we have corn tortillas available, so basically whatever you want."

Umm, no. Nope. It doesn't work like that. But okay, I'll play your game. My husband wanted an appetizer of chips and salsa, so I asked about that, and she said the chips are corn chips.

"Okay, but are they deep-fried?"


"Are other contaminants deep-fried as well?"

"I don't know."

"Can you check?"

She ran off to the kitchen, although I already knew the answer. I wasn't having any chips. I really just wanted to prove a point, and make her realize how severe my gluten-free-needs are.

When she returned, I asked about the fajitas. She didn't even ask which fajitas, she just told me I could get them with corn tortillas. Well, the chicken on one was marinaded, and on another it was rubbed. Either could contain gluten, so I sent her back to ask again. She came back telling me the marinade was a lime-something-or-rather, so I could have it. I gave up at that point, and ordered those fajitas.

The fajitas were delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed them, but I was also really frustrated. In my opinion, that was not a gluten-free-friendly experience, but rather an "I'm sure you can eat something" experience. If they'd actually had a gluten-free friendly menu, I might have had a fine time. As it was, I did enjoy my food, and I didn't get sick, but I just really wasn't impressed with the service.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this place. If you have strict gluten-free needs, find a different restaurant. If you want Mexican food, there's a ton of places that make better Mexican food. If you want to go to Chili's, go to Chili's, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, 7 July 2014

Gluten Free Butter Pecan Cheesecake Truffles

As I said in my last post, I made two desserts for the wedding. I immediately settled on sugar cookies for the first dessert, but the second dessert took a lot of brainstorming. I wanted something that would travel well, be spectacular, unique and gluten-free. I wanted something in small servings, but we already had cookies and tarts. 

After a couple weeks of thinking and searching, I put it off for awhile. Then one of my favourite blogs, EZ Gluten Free, posted a recipe that I thought sounded pretty perfect. The best thing was that I could make it several days ahead. Since I had a lot of things to do the week before the wedding, I made it as early as I could.

The recipe does include a lot of chilling time, and one ingredient did require some hunting down, but the actual work didn't take all that long and I managed to get some other things done will the ingredients were chilling.

Also, seriously, does it get better than Butter Pecan Cheesecake Truffles?

So you really need to click through and read that recipe, but to sum it up for you... You brown some butter and brown sugar on the stove, then mix it with some cream cheese and vanilla. The cream cheese mixture goes in the fridge to chill, and you mix some chopped pecans with some crushed cookies. The very specific gluten-free pecan shortbread cookies were the hardest thing to find, but I did find a pack at the health food store. Also, it's the only ingredient that is explicitly gluten-free. If you don't care about gluten content, just use regular pecan shortbread cookies.

Once the cream cheese stuff is chilled, you scoop up little balls of cream cheese and roll it in the pecan mixture. Once every little ball was rolled, I put them into containers between layers of plastic wrap and froze them for several days. I kept the containers frozen until it was time to leave for the rehearsal dinner. The wedding (and rehearsal dinner) was all in a town two hours from home, so I put the truffles in a cooler until we got there, and then they went back in a freezer. A few minutes before the reception, I pulled out some mini cupcake liners and plopped each truffle in a liner on a table. It took maybe five minutes. Right away, they were frozen solid, but they warmed up pretty quick, and by the time the last one was devoured they were still a little cold.

Overall, these worked perfectly for what I wanted. They didn't take long to make, they kept well, and they travelled just as well. Oh, and they delicious. Everyone who had one told me they were amazing.

Except my sister (the bride). Apparently, she doesn't like cheesecake. I knew that, I guess, and she didn't mind, because there were plenty of other sweets. The groom, on the other hand, told me that I'm going to go visit them and make these. I don't think he even cares if I visit, as long as he gets more of these.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Wedding Sugar Cookies

My sister wanted a few dessert options for her wedding, and she wanted at least one of them to be gluten-free. I volunteered to make two desserts, because the more I make, the more I can eat. I knew right away that I wanted to make sugar cookies.

When I made sugar cookies for Christmas, I used a mix from Kinnikinnick. I loved the mix, so I decided I'd try it again. To give the bride a taste before the wedding, I made them again for my birthday. So this makes the third time I have used Kinnikinnick's Sugar Cookie Mix, and I can not say enough good about it. It's easy to make, quick and simple to put together, rolls well, and re-rolls just as well. The cookies are easy to bake (there's a two or three minutes of flex room where the cookies are neither under-cooked nor burned) and every time I've made them, people keep exclaiming that they don't taste gluten-free!

 For the wedding, I made two boxes, just to make sure there would be enough. I made them shaped like little brides, little grooms, cakes, churches (even though they weren't getting married in a church) and hearts. I made all the cookies in one night, along with doing multiple other things for the wedding, and then I stacked them on a couple plates and wrapped them up for a few days.

When I had time again, I iced and decorated them with some royal icing and sugar crystals. For the royal icing I used:

1 cup gluten-free icing sugar (I used El Peto brand)
1 - 2 tbsp milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla

I only made this much at a time, but I had to make four batches to decorate all of the cookies.

I wanted to decorate them with coloured sugar crystals. I found all sorts of colours of sugar at Bulk Barn, but I couldn't find black, so I bought some extra white and some black Wilton Icing Color. I mixed the white sugar with some black color until the crystals were evenly black, and then I spread them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and put them in my oven on the lowest temp (180F, I believe) for ten minutes at a time until they seemed dry.

After icing a few cookies, I let them dry for a minute or so, but before they were completely dry, I sprinkled some sugar on top.

My sister's wedding dress was cherry red, so I made red brides, black grooms, white cakes and churches (each topped with a tiny silver ball) and red hearts.

Of course, I didn't get a picture of the table before several of the cookies were devoured. Along the back of the table are the leftover favours - little bags with Hershey Kisses and mini peanut butter cups, and the far edge of the table has some truffles that I also made, and will tell you about later!

At the end of the night, there were maybe ten cookies left behind, and probably eight of them were grooms. I'm not sure why the little guys were so much less popular. Possibly because it left a few people with coloured lips. After baking the sugar, there was a lot less colour transfer, but before I put the sugar in the oven, my hubby ate a spoonful and his lips, tongue and mouth all turned bluey-purple.

Nonetheless, I would highly recommend Kinnikinnick's sugar cookie mix, and if you want them to look spectacular without a lot of work, a bit of royal icing and a spoonful of sugar goes a long way.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

My Brother's Wedding

My older brother and my older sister are twins. They spent most of their life sharing things. They haven't shared clothes much, but they shared photos, attention, friends, and every single birthday. They also decided they would share the summer they both got married! My brother was married six weeks ago, and my sister was married just this past Saturday. I've been meaning to share photos from my brother's wedding, but I've been putting it off. Before I have photos of my sister's wedding, I guess I'll show you photos of my brother's.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Celiacs at Weddings, the second

My eldest sister married the man of her dreams this weekend!

Yes, my brother got married a mere six weeks ago, but hey, now my family is done with weddings for a few years!

If you remember the last wedding, my sister-in-law made sure the cake was gluten-free for me (she served cupcakes for everyone else), and one of the teenage boys there turned out to also be a celiac and he was really happy about it.

Well, if my sister-in-law is thinking of me, I can promise you that my own sister is thinking of me! Most of the meal was gluten-free as well (except for the buns!). As for the cake, it had four layers, and each layer was a different flavour. The smallest layer was a gluten-free white cake.

When it was time to serve the cake, my mother, two of the bridesmaids, and I each grabbed a layer, a knife and a cookie lifter and we each served out the different flavours.

I, of course, grabbed the gluten-free layer. As everyone lined up, they'd ask me what each flavour was, and I'd recite "Gluten-free white cake, lemon cake, carrot cake, orange-chocolate marble" and everyone would immediately file past me. A few moms of kids took the white cake because their kids wouldn't like the complicated flavours, but most people turned their nose up at gluten-free.

Except for one woman who got in line and asked "Which one was gluten-free?" And I recognized that face. It's the "Wait, I can have cake?!" face. I handed her a slice and asked if she was a celiac. She was. So I also pointed out the table of sugar cookies that I made, and told her they were safe as well. I didn't talk to her again after that, but I met her son who was a bit younger than I, and he expressed how happy, grateful and excited she was that she could have some cake. He passed on: "I would never wish this on anybody, but I am so happy the bride's sister has celiac, too!"

I think that sums up how I feel too. I would never wish this on anyone, but it makes me glad when I have more options, or when I have someone who really understands how I feel.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Birthday Sugar Cookies

I love baking, and I especially love when people enjoy my baking. When I first started eating gluten-free, I baked a couple of things that people did not enjoy. Over the last while, it's always been a bit of a gamble. Sometimes the things I bake turn out amazing and no one can believe they're gluten-free. And sometimes I keep the whole batch at home because no one would really enjoy it.

However, when you bake out of a box, you take all the gamble away. Every time you make a box mix, it turns out exactly as expected.

As such, whenever I'm baking something for something or somebody, I usually buy boxed mix. It kind of feels like cheating, but I want to convince everyone that gluten-free can be amazing, not that even experienced bakers make gross gluten-free food...

Anyways, I made Kinnikinnick's sugar cookie mix last night, in celebration of my birthday. My birthday is actually on Sunday, but I have Monday off work, so today is the closest work day to my birthday.

My mom gave me a big bucket of 101 cookie cutters for Christmas one year, and a friend gave me a couple moustache-shaped cookie cutters for my birthday a couple years ago, and I got a unicorn-shaped cookie cutter for my birthday this year. I dug out a couple of dinosaur-shaped cutters from the big bucket and made the most awesome collection of cookies ever! I kind of expected to find some birthday-themed cutters in the big bucket, but I decided a few of my favourite things would work way better anyways.

Everyone at work kept saying how sad it is that I made my own birthday treats. I hardly think so. If someone else made them, I wouldn't be able to eat them.

Oh, and I can not speak highly enough of Kinnikinnick's sugar cookie mix. No one believes they're gluten-free, and they were really easy to put together. Anybody could do it.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Jack Keaton's

I was never one of those girls to order a salad and to tip-toe around a burger. I like real food. I love barbequed food. I love ribs, and pulled pork. I do enjoy my fancy shmancy quinoa and kale salads, but there will always be room in my heart for a slow-roasted half rack of baby back ribs. Always.

I discovered a restaraunt in Regina and I've been there twice now, but will definitely be going again. Jack Keatons BBQ & Grill didn't sound like the kind of place I could eat, but it is. Their BBQ sauce is gluten-free, and although they don't have any gluten-free bread, the only non-sandwich main I couldn't eat was meatloaf. The sides were a little more difficult, out of the eight or so normal options, I only had three GF options.

 The first time I went, I was starving, so I ordered the sampler plate, and I still took home some leftovers. 

Monday, 16 June 2014


I think I lost it a little this morning.

My coworker noticed I was feeling pretty sick and asked if it was gluten. When I nodded, he said, "Why would you do that to yourself?"

I shot him a dirty look, an "Excuse me?" look if you will. And he said, "Well what did you eat?" as if I was a small child who got my finger stuck in the cookie jar.

I snapped. I lost it. "Why do people always seem to think I do this to myself? I would never purposefully eat gluten. I'm not so stupid as to do this to myself." And then I stopped to breathe. I realized that I was in my gluten-grumpy mode and needed to calm down.

So he said, "Well I don't know, maybe you were craving something."

I gritted my teeth and kept from ripping him a new one.

No. No, I would never eat gluten on purpose. No, I would never crave something and eat it. Never. Not once.

Damaging my body is not worth a donut. Being sick for five days will never be worth a slice of pizza. Nothing I could crave or desire would ever be worth knowingly making myself sick.

Yes, sometimes I engage in risky behaviour. Usually when I get sick, I know exactly what it was that made me sick because at one point during the day, I remember being paranoid and worried about something. And if there was only one moment I was paranoid, it was more than likely that moment that got me.

So yes, I guess I do this to myself. But usually the risky behavior goes hand in hand with being normal. If I want to continue functioning just like everybody else, I occasionally have to take risks. But the risks are never out of the ordinary, and often the risks are things I have done multiple times and been fine most of the time. But it only takes once.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fifties Housewife Bridal Shower

Well, I'm still here. I survived the weekend, and I still have all my hair! I will admit that I am exhausted and I was late for work this morning because I'm just so exhausted.

However, the bridal shower went off perfectly, everything was amazing, and my sister was super happy with everything. I did manage to finish cleaning, and make and do everything before people showed up, and everyone was completely impressed with everything I did.

Every time someone walked in, they apologized for not dressing up. I was dressed to the nines, with an original 1950's housedress, my hair curled and my makeup done. Although I wasn't actually the only one dressed up. I have a friend who loves vintage as much as I do, and although she's never met my sister, I invited her, and she was thrilled to dress up and come! So the two of us were very housewife-y, as was the house and party.

I spent awhile collecting vintage melamine dishes, real napkins, napkin rings, vintage flatware, and some old wooden spoons, which you can see here. I had a million napkins, which went hardly used, although I loved having the old dishes and flatware, because I wasn't worried if anything broke, or even worried about washing it after. I planned to throw most of it out right after the party. You can also see some of my World War II era posters above the table, and a couple of dishes, because a few people had shown up before I got these photos in.

The doorway between my dining room and living room had some lovely bunting that spelled out my sister's name.

The only thing I didn't spend a ton of time on - my little bride and groom clothespins which I reused my sister-in-law's shower a month ago. (Also, funny timing on this one, but on Saturday, that post was featured on another blog, Pinstrosity.) I had these on a small vintage table and doily right by the door.

My main dining table, which didn't come close to seating everybody, but was set with 12 tea cups, each with a Werther's and Riesen candy inside.

I had this cute little game set up - there were six little bowls with a different spice in each one, and people had to smell them and guess what each spice was.

I made up a bunch of little printables for the games. There was, of course, a little square with six number and some picture of spices for the spice game, and another little square to fill in advice for the bride (the guests don't write their name, and the bride has to guess who said what) and then some blank bridal bingo cards. Before opening presents, each guest fills in what they think the bride will receive, and then as she opens presents, they mark off and compete to get a bingo. I like this game because it keeps the guests entertained while the bride is opening presents.

As for the potluck aspect, there was quite a bit of food that people brought, and it all looked delicious. A few people specifically cooked with me in mind - there was a gluten-free soup, and a cheese ball with gluten-free crackers - and then a couple other dishes I could eat like devilled eggs, fruit, veggies, taco salad and my chocolate covered strawberries & raspberries.

For the prizes for the games, I found some pink and blue oven mitts and some wooden spoons at the dollar store. I put three wooden spoons of different sizes in each set of oven mitts, and then tied a bow around it (I had blue bows on pink oven mitts and pink bows on blue oven mitts). It had a vintage feel, while still being unused items, and in a very cute presentation.

Overall, everything look spectacular. A couple of details that you probably can't see... I put candies in each cup so that people would know which cup had not been used, and everyone got a little candy. I also designed and printed little place cards for each dish so everyone would know what was what and who made what. I had a binder with page protectors on hand, and as everyone handed me their recipe, I slid it into a page protector.

It went off amazingly, everyone had fun, and everyone had lots to eat. I love bridal showers, and I'm excited to go to the next couple that I don't have to host. Yay!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Pre-Potluck Nerves

Growing up, potlucks were one of my favourite things. I even bought a cookbook filled with "Potluck Pleasers". I loved cooking and baking, and I loved sharing. I loved both sharing my things, and sharing other people's things. So if you ask me to whip up one dish and then go to a big meal with a bunch of different foods and try a little of everything, while everyone enjoys whatever magic I brought? Oh my goodness. It was heaven. Whoever thought of potlucks was seriously the smartest person ever.

Untilllll you introduce celiac disease. Now, you're asking me to make a dish that people will enjoy (Okay! Still love that part!) and then go to a big meal where all the food is next to eachother, there is no control over who brings what, and what ingredients are in what, nobody considers that the buns shouldn't be right next to the veggie tray. Even if there is something that seems to be GF, it was made in someone's kitchen, and I don't trust other people's kitchens. So really you're asking me to make some food and then carefully eat that one dish that I brought, along with some crackers I smuggled in my purse? No thanks...

I went to one shortly after I was diagnosed, only because I'd signed up for it before diagnosis. It made me sad, made me realize how much I love potlucks, and that that would probably be my last one.

Well, it won't be. I'm hosting my sister's bridal shower, and when I offered her about twenty different themes and told her to pick her favourites, she selected "Fifties Housewife" and "Potluck". So I've asked everyone to bring their favourite dish along with the recipe and dress like a fifties housewife. (Don't worry, I'm completely aware that I might be the only one dressed up, and that's okay. I'm also decorating vintage, and playing some old school games. I would also make some mid-century favourites for food, except that everyone is making food, not me.)

At one point, my husband asked what I'm supposed to eat, and I realized how terrifying a potluck was.

A potluck in my own home. People will be bringing food they made into my house, my kitchen. My safe place, my gluten-free sanctuary will be filled with food I can't eat. I'll eat ahead of time, and have some snacks out that I can eat, and I'll be fine, but that doesn't mean I'm not terrified.

And then, the other day, one of my friends asked if anyone else had any food allergies, or if it was just me. I told her not to worry about me, and she says she's been eating gluten-free, so it's not a big deal. And a couple more people messaged me to ask for gluten-free ideas.

I was actually trying to avoid this, because it's not my bridal shower. It's for my sister, who eats and loves her gluten. And they're supposed to bring recipes so she enters married life with a cookbook full of tried-and-true favourites, not gluten-free alternatives her sister can eat.

However, I'm still touched that people are thinking about me.

So the bridal shower is tomorrow, and I'm a mix of nerves, stress, and excitement. I'm psyched for my sister, I'm so happy she's getting married. I'm nervous about eating, and all that food... And I'm super stressed about all the tiny details. My house is still a mess, and I only have tonight to clean it.

And then tomorrow, I need to finish cleaning (God knows I won't finish tonight), decorate, get dressed, do my hair, fix my nails, make some chocolate-dipped strawberries, finish washing the vintage dishes I got for the party, and make sure everyone remembers what time it starts. Oh, and take pictures before anyone shows up, because we all know it's going to look amazing.

I need to stop stressing. I barely slept last night or the night before because I'm just a ball of nerves. I just need to keep breathing and get through it and focus on the highlights. Everything will be perfect.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Day at the Beach

Oh. My. Goodness.

How is it June already? Where on earth did spring go??

Well, technically it's still spring for another three weeks, but I don't think anyone considers early June to be spring.

I spent yet another weekend in Saskatoon the last couple of days, and this one might have been my favourite.

I started spending weekends there in October, while M was at school, and when he left in December, I'd made enough friends and hobbies to have reasons to go back about once a month. This time, I got Friday off work and I drove up Thursday, with plans to come home on Saturday morning, with plenty of time to still spend a weekend with my husband.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

My life, lately

I haven't been doing much that's blog-worthy, but I have been doing lots of things lately, so here's a quick summary of my current obsessions, hair colour and foods I've been buying.

My sister and I dyed our hair from the same box of dye, so now we have the exact same colour of hair. No one will notice, though, because we're sisters, and they expect us to look alike. (PS, we both dyed our hair as close to natural as possible, because we both have grays coming in. What is up with that?)

On my slow journey towards cutting all dairy out, I bought some dairy-free coffee creamer. I've tried a few kinds, and this is my favourite! I honestly can't tell it's not dairy, and I feel just a little bit better throughout my day.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Freezer Meals: Teriyaki Chicken

The second meal to come out of my freezer and into my slow cooker was teriyaki chicken.
Medium - large bag of carrots
Red onion cut into large chunks
2 large cans pineapple (undrained)
4 garlic cloves
4 chicken breasts (or eight chicken thighs)
1 cup teriyaki sauce
Split between 2 bags, seal, mix, lay flat, freeze
Directions for bags:
Add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to pot. Cook low 6-7 hours. Serve over hot rice.
 It was super easy to throw everything in the bag, like easier than the other ones. The only part that took any time was the carrots. I wasn't sure from the recipe what to do with them, so I julienne'd them through my mandoline. The original recipe called for chicken breasts, but my grocery store was absurdly out of chicken breasts, so I substituted chicken thighs, and left them whole.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Freezer Meals - Italian Sausage and Peppers

The first meal from my freezer cooking that I made was Sausage & Peppers.
6 Italian Sausages
2 Green Peppers
1 Red Pepper
1 Red Onion
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cand Italian Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbs Italian Seasoning
Split between two bags, seal, mix, lay flat, freeze
Directions for bags:
Add drizzle of olive oil, cook on low 6 hours, serve over hot noodles or fresh french bread with mozzarella cheese.
Just looks like veggies to me!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Celiacs at Weddings

My big brother got married on Sunday.

I honestly never thought I would gain another sister-in-law, but I was more than thrilled to stand up for them and watch my brother gain a wife.

I will share some photos and talk more about other wedding things later, I'm sure, but for now, I wanted to tell you about a really big moment for me.

The bride (my new sister-in-law) is very sweet and caring, and she was very concerned about my dietary needs. She asked the caterer if they had gluten-free options, and actually paid a little more so there would be a gluten-free serving for me (although there wasn't, and I had potatoes, corn and salad. Not sure what happened there). And my mom made the cake, so of course they made sure I could eat some of it. They had cupcakes which were all gluten-filled and one small cake which was gluten-free.

I knew that it would be, and I ensured the knife wouldn't touch any of the cupcakes, etc. The MC announced that there were two different flavours of cupcakes and a gluten-free cake. I went up and cut a slice for myself, and one of the girls who had been at the shower asked me if I knew if it was gluten-free. I said it was, and she asked "how gluten-free," and as if I thought that would be a weird question, she told me her son had celiac disease. I looked at the twelve-year-old kid standing beside her and asked if he was a celiac. He nodded and I said "Awesome!" and high-fived him. I said I was a celiac too, and that the cake was made very conscientiously towards contamination. The boy grabbed a slice and ran off with his cake and his mom and I stood and talked for awhile about it.

I've always thought that I am so glad I was diagnosed after highschool. I can not imagine trying to get through school, especially elementary without eating gluten, or being contaminated. We talked about a lot of the challenges she faces as a celiac parent, without celiac disease, and the challenges he faces towards sleepovers, parties and school lunches. We also talked about the things he hasn't even come near yet, like drinking parties, alcohol, and work situations.

I was excited to meet another celiac (although it's becoming more and more common) and he was thrilled to have cake. Like, actually. When the MC said the cake was gluten-free, he said "Mom! I can have cake?!?!" He acted all cool about it to me, but I know how excited he was. I've been there.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Freezer Cooking

 I love freezer cooking. It's a pretty basic concept, but the application is a little intensive.

Basically, you take some time, and prep a whole bunch of meals and put them in your freezer so when you want dinner, it's prepped and ready and just needs to be finished. Finishing varies on what recipes you do. I've done casseroles that just need to be popped in the oven for an hour or two, I've done barbecue meat that just needs to be thawed and grilled, but my favourite is slow cooker meals. You toss everything in a bag and then thaw it, dump in in your slow cooker and have dinner! Or, put it in a strategically sized container before freezing and then dump the frozen dinner in your slow cooker.

I haven't done this gluten-free, but I did do it a few times a few years ago. I always had a hard time getting all the groceries - it would take me a few days to find everything, and then I had to set aside an entire Saturday to do it all. I'm not sure how exactly I did things differently this time, but it worked a lot smoother.

I figured out what meals I wanted to make, made a combined list of groceries, went straight to the grocery store after work, got home around six, and by ten o'clock everything was in the freezer.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Two-Speed Bicycle

I only have two speeds.

Mode #1: No-Go
I will spend days, sometimes weeks in this "No-Go" mode where I just don't want to do anything. I'm exhausted, I spend a lot of time on the couch, watching Netflix, or in bed with my DS. I stare around at the house, watching it accumulate mess, but never doing anything about it. I eat quick, lazy meals for lunch and dinner and I don't want to go grocery shopping.

Eventually, I guess I get sick of this because I just kick myself into the next mode.

Mode #2: Go-Go-Go
Suddenly, I want the entire house to be clean, my fridge to be full of fresh groceries, and my stomach full of meals I cooked. Typically, this mode starts when other things are going on too. Situations I can't control that demand extra out of me tend to kick me into this mode. Maybe because I realize I simply can't lay around and do nothing anymore, so I kick into overdrive and try to do everything.

Eventually, this burns me out, and I slip back into mode #1.

Hence, I only have two speeds. Like a bicycle, hehe.

I've been pretty slow-moving for a few weeks now, but with my brother's wedding on Sunday (!) I really have to get my butt into gear. I volunteered to help with a lot of it.

Oh, and finally getting spring weather is helping too. My grass is turning green, can you believe it?! Warmer weather makes everyone a little more productive.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Daiya Pizza

A few weeks ago, my sister and I were discussing what to eat for dinner, and I said, "Is it too much to ask for a gluten-free, dairy-free pizza?" She looked at me and said, "Uh, yeah. It is."

I realize that this small town will probably never have a restaurant that offers a DF GF pizza, but you can buy frozen ones! I had to hunt and hunt for one, but after trips to three different stores, I found one! Exactly one.

Daiya Foods mushroom & roasted garlic pizza, to be specific. I really wanted one with meat on it. I'm honestly not a fan of vegetarian pizzas, but when the decision was between a pizza with meat on it and a pizza that won't make me feel sick later, I chose the vegan option. I'm okay with this.

When it comes to ease and time of prep, it's a pretty classic frozen pizza. Didn't take much work, or much time. When it was done, the cheese didn't look melted. The photo above is after it came out of the oven. I thought the cheese was still frozen, but when I poked it, it was melty and hot.

The pizza was relatively good. The toppings were great, and the crust was good. But honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Daiya cheese. I have heard endless raving compliments about it, but I don't like the way it clings to the roof of my mouth. Mind you, I've always had issues with that. I stopped eating peanut butter for years because it freaked me out when it clung to the roof of my mouth. So maybe this is just me. Anyways, the pizza was good. And I didn't feel sick all night after eating it. Two wins.

I will probably buy this again, although I'll probably hunt for a different flavour. I liked it well enough, but I like to try other things too.

I guess I'd give this pizza three stars. It was good, it wasn't amazing, but it didn't make me sick.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Car Cake

This weekend I'm hosting a bridal shower for my brother's fiance and then next weekend is their wedding, at which I will be a bridesmaid. I have a ton of shower- and wedding-related stuff between now and then, so I'm sure you can imagine that I'm busy, stressed out and tired. And I will be for a little while longer.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my sister is getting married in June, so once all this is done, I get to start it all over a month later. Yaaaay.

However, I somehow found time and energy to make a cake! 

And I can actually take credit for this cake!

I bought boxed mixes (I know, but I don't like to risk gluten-free going wrong when it's important), I put together and baked the cakes, and then took them to my mom's house, where she made me decorate probably 50% of it. Naturally, she helped, and it was really her supplies that pulled it all together, but I put in a lot more effort than I usually do. 

I'm really proud of it. 

So before I disappear into the nethers that is wedding planning, enjoy this beautiful car cake that I made.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Yam Fries

I am a huge fan of yam fries. Actually, I'm a huge fan of yams. Hubby doesn't like them so much, but I love them. I quite often order yam fries at restaurants, but I don't buy them often, because hubby doesn't love them. I did buy one recently, and I plans to boil and mash it for dinner some night.

Then one night, while hubby was working late, and I was home alone, watching Netflix, one of the bloggers I follow posted a pictures of her yam fries for dinner on Instagram. And suddenly, I decided I really needed to make yam fries. I've made this recipe before, and I'm pretty sure I've blogged about it before. So I found the pin, I sliced my yam, and I made yam fries.

And that was that. They don't take long to make, and you can prep them way ahead of time and let them soak. You're supposed to let them soak for up to half a day, but I let them soak for as long as it took the oven to heat up, because I was impatient.

Peel, slice, soak, shake, drizzle, bake. Easy-peasy, right? I wasn't totally satisfied with the texture of my fries, so I'll try to remember to slice them thinner next time. They were still delicious, and I whipped up a really simple dip which I love, but I know isn't for everybody. I just mixed mayonnaise with mustard. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Playing with Vintage Hair

Okay, so I love vintage things. I have always had a fancy for old things. I love looking at photos from the 60's and earlier, and I've bought a few dresses just because they evoked something oh-so-50's (or another era). I'm not obsessed, I don't buy strictly vintage, I'm no expert, but I love it.

I love old houses, with their sweet little charms like keyholes, strange closets and wood floors. I love mid-century homes, with their kitchen islands, breakfast nooks, floral wallpaper, counter-height ovens, counter-top stoves and housewife-charm.

I especially love the fashion of bygone days. I love full skirts with fitted waists, petticoats and crinolines and adorable peep-toe pumps. I love the dramatic hair styles, be it a big bouffant look of the 60's or a sleek curled do from the 40's.

So I guess the point is that I've always loved vintage, but lately I've discovered a few blogs from girls who dress vintage every day. I envy them, but I could never. I like to be comfortable on occasion, I am also far too hard on my clothes to buy 60-year-old clothes and actually wear them, and I am far too cheap to pay the prices for reproduction vintage constantly.

Along with the blogs come amazing hair tutorials. I've tried to emulate 50's and 60's hair a few times before, but it always falls short. With a few helpful tutorials in mind, and knowing what tools I need, I figured a few out.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Adventures in Crafting: Canvas Posters

I'm not very good at crafting.

And by that, I mean, what I craft usually turns out, and I enjoy creating things, but I never get around to it. I have all sorts of plans in the making, and several things laying around, just waiting to be crafted into perfection, but I very rarely work on them. Most of them require something more and I just forget to buy it, but there are things that I could finish if I just did it.

A very long time ago, M and I bought some posters. We got two sets, one set had eight vintage movie posters, and the other set had eight world war two era posters. We bought them just after we moved into the house, which was two years ago. So they have been sitting in the sewing room, and then the office and then the guest room since then. Every now and then, we'd talk about how we wanted them mounted. We looked at frames, at paying to get them mounted on canvas, on just buying some canvas, but we'd decide whatever option was too expensive and to do it later. Right, later...

Well I was at a craft store and I saw the exact right sized canvas on sale (6 for $18) so I called him and bought them. I bought a bottle of Mod Podge and some paint brushes, too, even though I could have found them cheaper, I just didn't care anymore. I wanted this project done.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Spring Cleaning - Sewing Room, Part One

Personally, I wanted to finish off the kitchen next. I didn't have time to clean out the fridge and freezer or under the sink when I did the rest of the kitchen. On top of that, two of the later projects are both in my kitchen (pantry and laundry room). So I wanted to get those things finished so that my whole kitchen would just be done, but hubby had other plans. He has been itching to clean out his office for awhile, so I  agreed to help him, on one condition: I wanted my "office" cleaned too. I should have just finished off my kitchen.

However, he got called in to work a couple extra shifts over the weekend (a week ago), so I just started on my office alone.

It's really more of a sewing room, but because of it's prime location right off the dining room, it collects all of the clutter. I have a couple of clear organizing drawers, that I try to sort things in to, but that only works for so long. There's also a giant dresser in there, but it's only about half full. I keep my clothes drying rack there because the laundry is in the kitchen. So this is my catch-all room and I hate it. This is what it looked like when I started, Sunday morning (after making muffins):

Friday, 11 April 2014

Daiya Cream Cheese Style Spread

Every time I pick up a new pack of my dairy-free cheese, I notice all the other dairy-free products. It's crazy, isn't it? Butter, sour cream, cream cheese, you name it, you can get it dairy-free. I usually eye up all the options, and then buy only what I actually needed.

Cream cheese is my biggest weakness. I used to be a bagel-addict. I probably ate a dozen bagels every month, sometimes more. If I was out of cream cheese, I'd eat peanut butter or Nutella on them, but cream cheese was my very favourite thing.

I honestly have not bought a single pack of cream cheese since my diagnosis.

Not one.

How depressing is that? I consider it, every now and then, but what would I eat it on? Whenever I buy bread products, I usually have a plan for them. I'll buy a pack of gluten-free sliced ham and a loaf of bread and eat sandwiches for lunch a few days. Or I'll buy a package of gluten-free crackers and a little package of goat cheese. Bread products are such a luxury for me, that I haven't wanted to "waste" one on cream cheese.

But I caved. I bought a package of gluten-free sandwich bread and a little container of Daiya cream cheese style spread in strawberry flavour.