Friday, June 13, 2008

Hernia surgery, not fun!

My glass is half-full and the sky is partly sunny! It's all about attitude, isn't it? Yesterday morning I had outpatient, inguinal hernia (near the groin)surgery. It's much more common among men but moving my classroom (the custodians were supposed to do it but they are lazy) and lifting heavy boxes brought me to the Coral Springs Outpatient Surgical Center. I laid in bed all day yesterday and until about 30 mins. ago. (it's 4:00 p.m.)A friend told me to get myself out of bed and into a chair a.s.a.p. After all, I refuse to let this get me down for too long. I admit, I've taken percoset for the past day and ahalf. I am no hero! But, looking back at my two c-sections, I know that getting up a.s.a.p. is the MOST important thing to do for quick recovery.

In addition to being normally "constipated" to some degree, the main side effect of the percoset is constipation. MY LUCK! Aside from putting ground flaxseed in my food and mixing psyliuum husk into juice I NEED SUGGESTIONS! If you have any magical tricks or food combinations that would help please tell me. I'll look forward to some healthy suggestions from our celiac community. Until then, I'll slowly recover and be back on my feet!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is May almost over? I'm ready for summer!!

I've noticed that many of us have slowed down a bit in the past month. Winter passed, spring arrived, and summer is knocking at my back door. In South Florida summer arrives much sooner than for most of you. Our temps have averaged in the mid 90's for the past week and a half.

My herb garden is doing great. Patience is my only problem. I want to just go out and pluck some herbs every day. You know that expression, "God isn't finished with me yet?" Well, that's my garden. Goin' strong, slowly! I have used some parsley and oregano though. THERE IS NO COMPARISON! Shauna, at Gluten Free Girl and Melanie, at The Gluti Girls inspired me to start the garden. Shauna's book is wonderful and has made me more conscious of what fresh ingredients I should use. Our growing season is very different than in Seattle so I can't always get the same fresh veggies from a local farmer that Shauna gets. I thank you Melanie, for guiding the construction of my 5' by 2' garden. It's on casters so we roll it in and out of the hot Florida sun as needed.

My weekly menu planning has continued strong. I need to start experimenting with more vegetarian menus. I want to like quinoa, I really do! The first time I made it I tried it naked. That was my first mistake! I welcome any ideas or links to good quinoa recipes.

I was asked to co-chair our next Palm Beach Celiac Support Group's 2nd Annual Gluten Free Expo. (Feb. 7, 2009) I am sending out my "feelers" to all of you. If you have had any luck with companies who want to market themselves please let me know. We had a great vendor turnout last year and we want to increase the number of vendors for the next one. Please send me ideas or links of contacts so I can start calling now. Hey, it's 90 degrees plus now but who wouldn't want a Florida vacation at the beginning of February? (I don't own a winter coat or a shovel!)

Just a quickie....I hope life is good and all is well in your world...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weekly Menu:Some Old, Some New

24 is the magic number in my home. That's the number of days left until summer vacation is here and my 27th yr. of teaching/speech therapy is over! I'm really looking forward to the summer. I may go visit Ellen, my sister, or my older sister who lives in the North Country (upstate N.Y.) We'll see. Meanwhile, I did my usual Sunday morning menu planning for the week. It has really saved us money by making a list and sticking to it. I don't have to "wonder" what to make for dinner at 4:00 p.m. when I'm too tired to think!

Here's the menu for this week:

Sunday: Warm Tuscan Bean Salad (recipe to follow)
Pizza (Tom Sawyer flour I've been bragging about)
Lettuce and Tomato Salad with balsamic dressing

Since we've eaten already, I'll tell ya...the crust was so good.

Monday: Taco Salad (with ground turkey)
Tuesday: Peanut Noodle Salad (previously posted under the label NOODLES)
Summer rolls with vegetables
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Salad (recipe to follow)
Thursday: Grilled Chicken Breasts
Brown Rice Fritters (Found on Fresh Ginger's site)
Friday: Tofu something! Not sure yet!

I've borrowed some recipes from fellow bloggers and found some myself. I think you'll agree that having a community to share recipes and ideas with makes this whole gluten free life much richer! Let me know if you try any of these. I highly recommend the Tom Sawyer flour. Since it was the first time I tried the pizza crust recipe (on the website)I didn't roll it out enough so we had "sicilian" pizza. MMmmm!
Have a great week.

Warm Tuscan Bean Salad (compliments of Linda Arnold)
Light and Tasty Magazine, Nov. 2007

1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tsp. olive oil
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt (kosher)
1/2 tsp. pepper (fresh ground)
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

In a large nonstick skillet heat oil until warm. Add onions, green papper, and garlic and saute until tender. Stir in tomato and seasonings; cook 3-4 minutes longer. Add beans; cook and stir until heated through.

Caesar Salad dressing
Michael Chiarello, Food Network

2 eggs
2 T Dijon mustard
6-8 anchovy fillets, minced
2 T chopped garlic
4 T balsamic vinegar
3 t. fresh lemon juice
Worcestershire sauce
2 C olive oil
2 T warm water, if needed
1 C freshly grated Parmesan

Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce into a salad bowl. Blend with whisk, then add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorporated. If the dressing gets too thick, add the warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. Add the cheese and continue to blend.(I use my Cuisinart because the white cup in the feeding tube has a small hole. I put the oil in the white cup and it allows it to be added slowly)
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Saturday, April 26, 2008

High Cholesterol, another something to worry about!

I've been really busy in the past month. Going from one doctor to another, gathering second opinions on everything. Well, not everything! Just a gastroenterologist, hematologist, gynecologist....did I leave someone out?

It's quite ridiculous actually. I blogged about this a while back and the drama continued. I went to the GYN for the pain in my groin...ultrasound....nothing.
General doctor pursued the "pain" through a CT, with and without contrast. Enlarged spleen, enlarged liver....hematologist isn't concerned...let's watch it. Three months later another CT...same results as before with "fatty liver" thrown into the pot. Back to gastro who also isn't terribly liver enzymes are good but he wants me to get some blood tests done again (I'll do that this week)....he said that a liver biopsy would give me a definitive answer. Do I want a definitive answer? No!

So, I went to a workshop for school and the bloodmobile in the parking lot captured my attention. I'd been rejected for blood donations so many times because of the anemia. Ok, I'll try! I told the woman not to be disappointed and that I'd probably not have an acceptable iron level even though my intestines are healed. WHOA! Could ya just? She put my blood into the centrifuge, spinned it, and wow. It's a go!

As instructed I called the automated line a week later for my cholesterol level. 192! Not my level! I've never been over 130! That 192 just adds insult to injury. I watch everything like a hawk so that I stay gluten I can avoid anemia...and now, I need to watch what I eat to help my cholesterol level reduce???

Oh by the way, the "PAIN" that sent me to my GYN in the first place is a hernia and I'll have surgery to repair that on June 17th. Outpatient, local anesthesia, and twilight. Home in 3 hours. Can't wait!

Did I say depression? Yes, after all this and more, I have just had it! They say that after the big "50" it's all good? Did you hear that too? In my rational state I know that I'm healthy and that life is good. I just need to keep reminding myself that the glass is half-full. It's just hard to believe it right now.

Do you have cholesterol issues? Any suggestions to help reduce it? (Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut oats are a part of my morning now.)

I need a hug!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Coffee Cake to die for!

Good Saturday morning! I'm on vacation for the next week and I'd like to rest and experiment in the kitchen. We're staying put this time! I made a Sour Cream Coffee Cake last week that was amazing. In my pre CD life, I had a great recipe that I've longed to replicate without the all purpose flour. I've spoken to you about Tom Sawyer flour several times. It hasn't disappointed me yet!
On their website, they list several recipes. I made the Sour Cream Coffee cake to take to a friend's home for dinner. They were ooohing and aaahing about it. Just be careful and remember, when adapting a recipe, it is cup for cup but DO NOT add xanthan gum. I made that mistake with scones and when I called the company they told me not to add it. Just CUP FOR CUP! Try it and let me know what you made! Take care....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Caesar Salad, Lamb Stew, Yum!

Good Friday! To those who celebrate Easter and to those like me, who have an extra day off. It's quite early for me to be awake on a "day off." But alas, my blog calls and my fingers oblige.

It has been an emotional month for me. Our family has made a significant change and I'm seeking the emotional and spiritual support from our blogging community. The R word that isn't being used in Washington.......shhhh, "recession" has finally knocked at my front door. The miserable economy has hit home and people are not buying life, health, and disability insurance and annuities. My husband's business has been affected and a firm BUDGET has been created. I know that during March we all look for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I just know that my lucky leprechaun is waiting to make a grand entrance!

I've followed the lead of our fellow bloggers and have been doing weekly menu planning. It's sort of exciting to sit down on Sunday, browse through recipes and blogs, and create a weekly menu, chock full of great recipes. I've gotten more creative with my cooking and am enjoying the challenge. The Grilled Chicken Caesar salad was delicious. I also cut up a few slices of bread from Pamela's Bread Mix and tossed the cubes in a blend of oil and spices, for some incredible croutons. I baked them on 350 for 15 -20 mins. and turned on the broiler to get the crunchiness. Mmmm!! Who says we can't enjoy good food? Look for all of the recipes at the bottom of this post....Greek Lamb and Artichoke Stew came from the notion that I had a frozen bag of lamb cubes and with our budget, waste not, want not! The unique combination of artichokes, lemon, dill and wine made it yummy. Serve over rice and bingo! Last week I made GNOCCHI and my family raved about the mean! The taco salad was accompanied by a homemade taco sauce...what a treat!

I've repeatedly used the Tom Sawyer Flour Blend that I blogged about last month. I've coated tofu cubes with it and stir-fried for a crunchy coating. I also made scones with the flour....too good to be true. I absolutely recommend it. It's only $28.99 for a 10 lb. bag and that includes shipping. I keep mine in the freezer.

I wish all of you a wonderful weekend. Let me know if you try any of these recipes...share yours we cook on a shoestring budget!

I don't remember where I found this recipe...apologies to the author.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentis...Everyday Italian

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 (1-pound) russet potato
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/4 t. xanthan gum
1/4 c. gluten-free flour blend
1/4 c. shaved romano cheese

Cook the butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme leaves. Set aside.

Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes.
Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Mash in the salt and pepper. Mix in the egg and xanthan gum.

Sift the flour over the potato mixture and knead just until blended. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Roll each piece between your palms and the work surface into a 1/2 inch diameter rope.
Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over a wooden paddle with ridges or over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough.
Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water until the gnocchi rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Continue cooking until the gnocchi are tender, about 4 minutes longer.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the hot thyme-butter in the skillet. Toss to coat.
Top with the romano cheese and serve.


LAMB AND ARTICHOKE STEW - A GREEK RECIPE (I used a Pressure cooker, see directions)
The Frugal Gourmet

4 T. butter
2 lbs. boneless lamb, cubed
3 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c parsley, chopped
s and p to taste
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 c. dry white wine
2 - 14 oz. cans artichokes in brine, drained
1/2 t. dried dill weed
3 T. lemon juice

I used a Pressure Cooker...I followed this recipe but after I sauteed the onion, garlic, and parsley, I just added all of the other ingredients into the pressure cooker, brought it up to high pressure, lowered it for 15 minutes and kept an eye on it. I let it stand for another 15-20 minutes to release pressure naturally. Great flavor!

In a very large frying pan, melt the butter. Add the lamb and saute until lightly browned. Remove the meat. Saute the yellow onions along with the garlic and parsley Place the meat, onions, garlic, and parsley in a heavy kettle, add salt and pepper, the tomato paste, and white wine. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender. Add artichokes, dill weed, and lemon juice. Simmer until all is tender about 1 1/2 hours.
Serve over rice pilaf.


Taco Salad sauce

1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayo
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t dry mustard (Gluten Free Mommy suggests Colemans Dry Mustard) Check the brand first.
1/4 t. garlic salt
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 c bottled Chili Sauce (heinz is gf)
Mix all ingredients and enjoy!

Caesar Salad Dressing
Food Network (Michael Chiarello)

2 eggs (yolks only)
2 T dijon mustard
6-8 anchovy fillets, minced
2 T chopped garlic
4 T balsamic vinegar
3 t. fresh lemon juice
Dash of Worestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins is gf)
2 C olive oil (I used Canola b/c I didn't have enough olive)
2 T warm water, if needed
1 C freshly grated parmesan

Place the egg yolk, mustard, anchovies, garlic, venegar, lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce into a bowl. Whisk and then, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorportated. If the dressing gets too thick, add the warm water and then continue until all the oil is added. Add the parmesan cheese and continue to blend. (Here's a trick I use....Instead of taking out the whole food processor, I take the white, tall food cup from the feeder part of my food processor and using my stick blender, I pour the oil into this over the bowl. The hole in the bottom of the white cup allows the oil to give that steady stream you need so the dressing emulifies.)
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Monday, February 25, 2008

Time to catch up!

It's been over a month since I posted last. I've been really busy with work and trying to get on a good schedule for exercising. It's working and I've been fairly consistent. It's true what they say about exercise being good for your mind. Less worrying, less anxiety about the daily struggles.

Our Palm Beach Celiac Support Group's First Vendor Fair was fabulous! I don't know if I blogged about it but there were so many excited, invigorated people there. It was great to be around those who understand our day to day experiences!! Speaking of exciting, I must tell you that I bought Shauna Ahern's book, Gluten Free Girl. It is so wonderful and such an easy read. I've kept it on my nightstand and read a few pages a night. She talks about how she's fallen in love with fruits, vegetable, "good" grains, and more. Personally, I've tossed out my Morton's Salt (the one with the girl with the umbrella) and am using kosher salt or sea salt. I use fresh herbs whenever possible. Basil! Fresh basil! Does it get any better than that? Okay. Maybe. Cilantro is another one of my favorites. Not just for mexican food either. Experiment! That's one of Shauna's suggestions. Hey, just throw caution to the wind, as my sister Ellen says. So I did! And I've created yummy entrees that my family and I enjoy with health benefits.

Back to the vendor fair, I also spoke to one woman who made Pamela's bread mix with a Kitchen Aid vs. a bread machine. She claimed that it came out better. I tried it the next week and ya know what? She was right. Three minutes in the Kitchen Aid mixer, let it rise for 60 minutes, then, bake for 90 mins. It was so good. I absolutely love Breads from Anna so I'll be trying hers in my Kitchen Aid as well.

My husband and I went to Scottsdale/Paradise Valley, Arizona last week to spend time with cousins. Aside from the beauty of the mountains, cactus, and the red rock of Sedona (I live in "no mountain South Florida!"), I was able to find amazing gluten free pizza. The name of the restaurant is Pizza Picassos. The crust was the closet thing that I've found to the real thing. I asked the waiter for the recipe and he gave the the ingredients. I'll just have to play with the measurements. The following day we went to Sedona and I found the New Frontier Market. I bought Tom Sawyer flour, two 5lb. bags! Ok, so I'm an extremist! Meanwhile, I did find other restaurants where they actually knew what gluten free and celiac disease are! Imagine!

When we left on Monday night, Feb. 18th, we packed our bags and flew to Atlanta to connect to Ft. Lauderdale. Our bags were the last, yes the very last, to come onto the belt at baggage claim. My husband's suitcase was open and yes, you guessed it! The flour wasn't there. I didn't discover it until the next afternoon when I went to bake since we got in at 1:15 a.m. the night before. I called my husband, who didn't realize it wasn't there. I followed up with a call to Delta, who gave me a claim number. I will put in a claim even though they said that they don't typically reimburse non-perishable items. We'll see what happens when I submit the claim. Meanwhile, I called Tom Sawyer flour the next day and ordered 10 more pounds of flour. The gentleman, quite a gentle man, threw in a cookbook for all of my troubles. I hadn't received it as of Saturday the 23rd. Cross your fingers that it comes today. Pizza crust here I come!

This past weekend I was lucky enough to spend it with my sister Ellen of I Am Gluten Free. Many of you have read her fabulous blog. What you might not know, is that she and Peter are extremely talented musicians, who circle the country as keynote speakers, Artists in Residence, and childrens' entertainers. We spent the weekend at a local synagogue, singing and praying together. It was a very happy weekend and I'll think of it often. I use their secular music every day in my preschool class and highly recommend it. I hope they don't mind my "tooting their horn" but their website is Great, great music!

Today is Wednesday and my daughter is 16 yrs. old! Whoa. It sure goes by quickly, doesn't it? Anyway, I got the flour in yesterday from Tom Sawyer. Last night, I dipped tilapia in egg, dredged it in the Tom Sawyer flour mixed with dried parsley, paprika, s and p. I sauteed it and though it may have needed some other seasonings I can tell you that it did have a slight crunchy coating. I cannot wait to experiment more with it. The gentleman I spoke to, Eric, confirmed that the equivalent ratio is 1-1. He said that I can take any recipe and substitute it easily. I wonder about the xanthan gum connection but I'll have to experiment.
It has been a while since I've read other wonderful blogs. It's time to catch up and round up some new recipes. It always inspires me to read new recipes! Speaking of recipes, I made Ellen's Asian Twist Tofu recipe and it was really delicious. I'll look forward to trying yours. Meanwhile, take care and be healthy!