Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wheat Free - the absence of wheat or the presence of something different?

After a week of not eating wheat, Olivia is now waking up every three hours, rather than every one to two hours. So that's a huge improvement. I've been exploring the world of gluten-free knock-offs of wheaty foodstuffs. It's not a completely new world to me. Twice I've had a cousin with celiacs stay with us, and a friend of mine has had to go wheat free recently. Last week I tried a gluten-free pasta (Italian-made, no less) and Friday we ordered a gluten-free pizza. The problem I am having is that I enjoy the taste of wheat. The texture of the pasta and the pizza crust were pretty spot on, but the flavor wasn't right, and I didn't really enjoy them. I've had gluten-free cookies that are pretty good, but most cookies don't taste of wheat anyway. The wheat is a vehicle for butter, sugar, chocolate chips, cinnamon, whatever. I've also tried brown rice pasta that I enjoyed, although admittedly, so far I have only used it to make Chinese-style dishes. This weekend I am going to try it with tomato sauce.

I think the problem I am having is that I have an avversion to anything "faux." The site of vegan sour cream turns my stomach, and I find fake fur almost as offensive as real fur. So the pastas and the pizzas that are trying to taste like wheat bother me, because they are trying really hard to be something they aren't, and will never be. A pasta that wants to taste like wheat, but doesn't, lacks an honest flavor of it's own. I prefer the brown rice pasta that isn't trying to be something it isn't and is instead unabashedly what it is. I'm going to try some gluten-free baking. I'd like to have muffins as an alternative to oatmeal for breakfast, pancakes for weekend breakfasts, and some quick breads or cookies for snacks. Rather than try to replicate the blueberry muffins made of wheat flour though, I want to make buckwheat muffins that taste of buckwheat and oat muffins that taste of oats. I've been finding recipes online for gluten-free baked goods that focus on the flavor of the gluten-free flours, rather than trying to replicate the taste of wheat flours. I hope to learn something about baking, and maybe even find some recipes that I will enjoy making even after I can go back to eating wheat.

In the meantime, here is another cute picture of Olivia, the reason for this new pain-in-the-butt-yet-somehow-fascinating turn of events in my eating and cooking.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wheat Free for (Hopefully) Just a Couple of Weeks

A few months ago, if I drank milk, Olivia got painful gas. So I gave up milk for a couple of weeks, and then slowly reintroduced it. Then it happened again with beans. So I gave up beans for a few weeks, and then slowly introduced them. Now it's happening with wheat. For about three weeks, I saw every hour on the clock six nights out of seven. At first we thought it was just when Olivia ate wheat cereal, but when the night waking continued after we stopped her cereal, we realized it was when I ate wheat as well. So I am giving up wheat for a few weeks.

This one is definitely the hardest. My morning cafe latte was replaced by tea and cheese on toast. I replaced beans at dinner with a slight increase in meat and cheese. Wheat I eat all day long. I like toast for breakfast, crackers and cookies for quick snacks during the day, and a week's worth of dinners generally includes at least two pasta meals, a bread meal, and a pizza night. So, where to begin?

I realize there is a whole word of gluten-free cooking. I am hoping this will pass within a manner of weeks, though, so I am not prepared to jump into the world of specialty (and expensive) flour mixes and gluten-free versions of baked goods. I'm also, at least not yet, concerned about trace amounts of gluten. So here is this week's menu plan:

Saturday - Chinese-style brown rice noodles with veg

Sunday - stewed green beans and roasted potatoes

Monday - chilli with corn tortillas and slaw

Tuesday - pasta (gluten free for me), brocoli and beans

Wednesday - squash soup and corn/zuccchini fritters

Thursday - stir fry with brown rice (I found a California brand at the grocery store that tests low for arsenic)

Friday - not sure yet

For breakfast, I've been eating oatmeal, but I have a hard time eating the same thing everyday, so I may bake some cornbread to have in the morning. I'll try to stick to leftovers for lunch to keep it simple.

Here's a picture of Olivia. It's a good thing she's so cute....



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mitten Surgery


A few years ago I worked near a Whole Foods. Over the course of one winter I bought two pairs of fingerless gloves, one with long sleeves (in the middle above) and another with mitten hoods for the fingers (on the right above.) Eventually I wore pretty much exclusively the long sleeved gloves, and over time they began to wear, especially where my rings rubbed against the wool. So I repaired them. I used black yarn because it matched well enough, and because I enjoyed knowing myself where the repairs were. After two winters of wear and repair, they got to the point where the holes were two big to repair. I was bummed. I loved those gloves, and Whole Foods no longer sold them. (Is there a store left where you can buy the same exact item of clothing three years later?) Plus, I really didn't feel like spending money on gloves.

Then I remembered the other pair of gloves, and I decided to do a little reconstructive surgery, a little "frankensteining."

I picked up stitches in the last row that I wanted to save.

Then I cut the row above and removed the hands of the long-sleeved mittens.

I followed the same procedure with the hooded mitties, this time removing the cuffs.

I then used a kitchener stitch to graft the two together. With the ends of the yarn tied off, there they are.