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Friday, July 31, 2009

Got Celiac? Start Here

Recently I was contacted in regards to a new cookbook: gluten free every day by Chef Robert Landolphi.

Would I like a free preview copy? No strings attached. Feel free to write about it on your blog, but you don't have to.

um... ... ... YES!

Shortly thereafter, the book arrived, and I began to read. Turns out it's not just a cookbook.

The whole first chapter, "Gluten Free Basics", is informative. Each successive chapter begins with a quick breakdown of what you need to know to cook the type of food in that chapter. Some of these informational segments are just a few sentences, and others, such as chapter three "Entrees", for example, you get a two page list of possible coatings to replace the traditional flour breading. (THANK YOU!)

I wish I had had this book last year when I was first diagnosed. I didn't know which way to turn, and it seemed that almost the books I came across were either way too organic or too gourmet for my tastes and style. (Or they just had awful foods! Bleah.)

This book is excellent for someone who is just starting out. It's easy to read and it does not contain the words "for dummies" (for me this is super-important).

It's also a fairly versatile book. It has recipes that would appeal to a variety of people. Here's a short list of some of the items it contains:
  • Beer-battered onion rings (super yummy, btw, and a little spicy!)
  • Baked beans
  • Cranberry-Hazelnut Rice Stuffing
  • Shrimp and Vegetable Pad Thai
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Ricotta Cream Berry Trifle
  • Parmesean-Pesto Chicken with Pecans
I think that whether you're just starting out on your gluten free life or you've been at it a while and are just looking for something new and interesting, this is a good book. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I really should stop using the phone

Today I called Comcast Cable at 1-800-Comcast and was greeted with this:

"Hi, this is Shaquille O'Neill"
"And this is Ben Stien. Thanks for calling Comcast!"

Oh, my. My, oh my, oh my.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Random Attacks

Time: 9:35AM
Place: Living Room
Situation: Drinking coffee, enjoying solitude, watching a documentary on modern pirates

--phone rings--

Me: Hello?

Him: Is Michele there?

Me: (mental categorizing of possibilities commences) people who call me "Michele". List follows: doctor, government, central office employee, telemarketer, charity (aloud) This is.

Him: Oh, great! Good morning. I am "Bob" from ReMax and ...

Me: (mentally) Oh wonderful, what do they want? To offer me a wonderful re-finance deal?

Him: ...we're calling to let you know that there's a wonderful little house for sale on "nearby street". It's a 2 bedroom...

Me: (mentally) Wait! Remax doesn't do refi's! They're a realty company! Wait.... Huh? (aloud, shamelessly interrupting, and rather confused) Why are you calling me?

Him: (not missing a beat, not losing the smile in his voice) You know, that's a good question. Well, Michele, we were calling today to see if you know anyone who may be looking to move into this area --

Me: (interrupting yet AGAIN - and actually laughing a little bit) Wow. That IS a new one. Look, take me off your list, Ok?


Monday, July 27, 2009

What "It" Is

A big, big thanks to everybody who played along this time, and gave a guess.
In case you missed it, here is the original photo:

I must say, some of the guesses were... ... um ... interesting. From tornadoes to x-rays to ice cream to poltergeists, I really really thought I had you stumped. Some of you were close with words like fuzzy and cotton, but for the most part everybody was way, way off.

My favorite guess is Marina's: a cow. (I just love cows.)

Strangest guess is a tie between (and this should be no surprise to those of you who know them)
- Secondary Roads (aka Uncle Chuck): ham bone
- and Jill: cotton candy

But there was one man who actually got it right. Yes, he nailed it. So hats off to my winner: BA_Hutch (aka Cousin Bryant the wise), the one who guessed "the furrow between a dog's eyes". How did he do that?! Look, here it is, zoomed out a little:

Yup, that's our little Daisy,
and the photo was indeed the wrinkled furrow between her eyes.

Wanna see the whole picture?

Here she is, in all her festive glory. Merry Christmas!

Thanks for playing!

Some things are just wrong!

Have you entered the latest What is It? Contest yet? You have one more day.
The answer and winner(s) will be posted tomorrow.
Go ahead! Give it a shot!

Number 1: Jenga, the video game has the funniest line in their review for this game where they mention "the excitement of removing wooden blocks from a stack of…wooden blocks, one piece at a time."

I actually love love LOVE Jenga, but to play it as a video game just seems wrong!

Number 2: Drawing eyes on animal crackers

These eyes, especially. What kind of animal could that even be?!?!? Yikes. I was rather freaked out by these when I saw them in Toys-R-Us, and it turns out that Stauffer's does this to all their animals, some with better results than others.

Number 3: Pet Fashion Week

The Globe and Mail

There were many sphinx cats in Moscow's Pets Fashion Week fashion show, along with a variety of dog breeds, both large and small. (Mostly small) Perhaps the best line from the Pravda article I read about the event is "In winter time dog owners can dress their pets in natural fur coats. Such a fur coat will cost about $1,000." If you want to see more pics, click on the link below the picture or just do an image search. There's tons of photos out there!

Number 4: GameStop Employees who Make their own Signs

I took this photo while Jim was buying a game for Annie. Yes, that is an adorably fluffy bunny cursing in joy. -sigh-

Number 5: Dating in the Dark

Wow. Have you seen the commercials for this show? Just wow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What is it? Challenge #3

Well, you won't win much more than a heartfelt "Kudos" in this contest,
but that's pretty much because I'm just a poor teacher.

I hope you'll give a guess just for the fun of it!

Here's your photo:

What is it?

Friday, July 24, 2009


Today I - your basic European-American-Caucasian-Mutt - emerged from the grocery store bearing fruit from the tropics and fixins for a Tex-Mex dinner only to find that next to my car was a Hispanic man eating Chinese food while listening to rock and roll and sitting in a van covered in Native American stickers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Softball Camp

This week, Annie has been going to softball camp. She's been wanting to try out for the school team in the spring, and we decided the best way for that to be possible was to get her some experience. We're also going to try to get her on a fall ball team.

This week she's learned a lot and also come to grips with the fact that she's got a lot more to learn and a lot of practice ahead of her if she is to have any hope of making the team in the spring. On the bright side, she seems to really be falling in love with the sport.

Keep your fingers crossed for her!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I rarely ask you to do things....

...unless you've volunteered for kids ministry. heh heh heh: then we are fellow minions and all bets are off! (and I mean minions in the most spiritual sense of the word, of course... duh)


Where was I?

Oh, yes.

Do something for me?

As you may have heard (unless A-you don't eat gluten-free or B-you do, but live under the proverbial rock), Starbucks is going to pull its one gluten-free pastry, the Valencia Orange Cake because "We heard that it was too much of a treat, and not a nutritious snack. The KindSnacks bar is replacing it" (Starbucks Twitter, July 15). -sigh- For me this is a big, big, sad, obvious sort of thing. Cake = treat, not nutrition. Um, yeah, sure does.

I have pestered them already, asking when they're also pulling their brownie, donuts, muffins, cookies, rice crispy treats, and bacon sandwiches. No answer yet.

Here's something more productive you can do: sign this petition. It's being hosted by Triumph Dining, aka the advertiser at the top of this page. Please sign.


Tag - YOU're it!

Well, well. Here we go with another interesting one. Ok, I'm it.

I received this “15 YOUs” tag from my Uncle Chuck.

She gave the following instructions:
1. Write something about 15 persons you know.
2. Don't mention the names of these 15 persons.
3. If someone would asks who they are, don't tell them.
4. Tag 15 persons but don't include persons you refer to in your post.

-- And away we go . . . --


YOU - Snore really loud, slobber everywhere, shed on the furniture, and make me complain a LOT! ...but secretly, I love you.

YOU - Came looking for me once when I was thinking about running away.

YOU - Always make me laugh.

YOU - Gave me an example to try to live up to when dealing with adversity.

YOU - Are the epitome of "punny".

YOU - Scared me by drinking a beer once.

YOU - Laughed so hard that your recliner tipped over backwards and we had to pick you back up, chair and all.

YOU - Showed me that talent is often the result of hours upon hours of difficult work and commitment to the minutiae.

YOU - Helped me see that faith and science are not enemies.

YOU - Are the reason I am addicted to blogs.

YOU - Showed me how to be a great wife, but you don't even know it.

YOU - Never grew up, did you?

YOU - Inspired me (pushed me!) into teaching in a gifted program...thanks.

YOU - Like goats more than any woman should. (Ok, that one was obvious. Sorry.)

YOU - Embrace your geekdom, and I am proud of you for it.

YOU - Talked me out of dating a stoner once. Thanks. I still owe you one.


I am SO not tagging 15 people! I'm going to go the easy route: like the meme? Use it! You've been tagged.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A New Chapter

Well, well, well. If things aren't getting interesting in my world.

Some new interesting developments:
  1. An prospective author friend of mine has graciously allowed me to read a draft of her novel. I can tell you nothing, but it is super interesting, and so far, I love love love it!
  2. I get to test out some new recipes in an upcoming cookbook by the Gluten-Free Girl. Super yum. Again, I can't tell you anything, but how excellent!
  3. I got an email from a publicist asking me if I'd like to try out a new cookbook. I am really looking forward to trying out the recipes, and then I'll post a review of this for you:
  4. I am considering splitting my blog into two. One on celiac stuff and one on just my usual random ramblings... your thoughts?
  5. I am starting a new professional goal: National Board Certification. It takes 1-2 years to complete.
  6. I get to be lead teacher for my new job a few times this year, for a Shakespeare unit and for a short stories unit.
  7. My children are both going to a week of summer camp this year for the first time ever.
  8. We're smack in the middle of this year's Backyard Blast, and it's going well: tons of fun and what-not. Come join us if you're in the Stafford area, Ok?
  9. As if I'm not busy enough, I've found my mind wandering down the road of composing again, as evidenced by the post "Scars". Did you like it?
Phew! What a whirlwind!

Monday, July 13, 2009

We survived!

Jimmy as General MacArthur

It's been a long. long weekend. Thursday morning, my little man started complaining of a headache. I pretty much ignored that because his first 10yr molar is coming in. Instead, I tossed him a tube of ambesol and told him to drink a glass of water.

By mid-day, his temperature had risen, and I sent him to bed. I took him to the pediatrician the next day after his temperature registered at 102.6. "It's just a virus," they said. "Keep an eye on him."

Ok. I took him home, gave him a corner of the couch, and a bottle of water, and waited

Saturday night, his aches turned into pains, and he couldn't really walk well or climb his ladder to bed. The pains seemed to be coming from his lower right side, and he miserably failed the "jump-up-and-down" test, so we went to the ER. Jim and I texted furiously the whole time and he kept me cheery in the face of not knowing what was going on with Jimmy.

The poked, prodded, hooked up an IV, checked vitals, drew blood, took urine, filled him with contrast, scanned, poked and prodded again. "It's just a virus," they said. "Keep an eye on him."

Ok. It's 2 AM on a Sunday and I have to be at church by 7:30/8. Sure. Why not.

Jimmy spent Sunday quarantined in Jim's office, and seemed to be getting better. Fever was down to 100.3 that morning, and his appetite was back. Abdominal pain was pretty much gone, and his spirits were high.

After church and lunch and naps, he said he felt much better and asked me to check his temperature. 103.7. Oh, good heavens. Took it again. 103.4. Jim told me it would be ok. Much muttering of "What do we do now?" ensued.

I did what any self-respecting, intelligent, mother of 2 older kids would do. I called my mommy. I told her the whole story. I did my best not to cry. (It sort of worked.) She told me it would be ok, and suggested that - since I'd tried everything else - I should put him in a tub of lukewarm water for 5 minutes and douse him, hair and all, then bundle him back up.

When the 5 minutes were done, Jim went up to get him out of the tub, then came down and said that he was a new kid. And he was! He was smiles and appetite again. He ate (a tiny) dinner and felt playful. I gave him one more dose of medicine for the fever and sent him to bed.

This morning, I handed him the thermometer and held my breath. 98.5. Hooray! We made it!

The mystery virus lost.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I think I'm in love with Bette Hagman

For those of you who don't know, Bette Hagman is one of THE people to buy a cookbook from if you have celiac disease. I have tried recipe after recipe from her book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Food and I have loved them all.

Today she saved me from a world with no pie. Yes, that's right, pie. I love pie. I spent a couple of years finding and perfecting the perfect pie crust, and then -poof!- no more pie for me! So very very very sad was I.

But take a look at this.

Isn't it just gorgeous?!

This is my deep dish strawberry rhubarb pie with a gluten-free crust. The crust was easy to work with, flaky, crisp, soft, and practically perfect. It's just going to take a little tweaking, and I think it will be just as good, if not better than, my original, wheat-filled crust!

Buy the book. Buy it. Now.

Here's my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe for you:
4 cups rhubarb
3 cups strawberry
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

Place in your favorite pie shell. Brush top with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Bake at 425 for 50 minutes. Put a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any drips. Loosely cover pie with foil part way through baking to keep crust from burning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's for Dinner Wednesday - Dessert Week

Yum! Dessert! Be sure to check out all the yummies over at the Gluten-Free Homemaker today! And be sure to forgive the awful quality of these pictures. I am ashamed of myself for making you look at them. I will make it up to you my graciously accepting the new camera you buy for me for my birthday so that I no longer have to take pictures of things with my phone. You're welcome.

To the recipe!

This one is quick and easy and good luck fighting others off so you can get some yourself. And by quick, I mean, I had everything assembled, done and tidied up in the time it took my husband to go pick up the girl from youth group and come back again. I also had a nice surprise for them to come back to. Yay, me!

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and Whatnot

  1. Bowl
  2. Spoon
  3. Knife
  4. Wax paper

  1. Almond Bark
  2. Oil
  3. Berries

(Yup, that's it)

Suggested Optional Ingredients - for toppings: (double check for gluten-free-ness!)
  • Sprinkles
  • Coconut (Weird, but tasty!)
  • Crumbled cookies
  • Mini-chocolate chips (Nothing like chocolate topped chocolate!)

  1. Chop almond bark into smallish chunks and place in microwave-safe bowl with the oil. You want approx. 1 t of oil for every 4 oz. of chocolate.
  2. Microwave 30 seconds, remove, stir. Repeat as needed until chocolate is melted - smooth and silky. KEEP AWAY FROM ALL LIQUID! (If you've just washed your berries, pat them dry before dipping!)
  3. Grasp strawberry by top. Dip and roll in the chocolate.
  4. Dip and roll in topping, if desired.
  5. Place on wax paper to harden (takes only minutes - no need to refrigerate)
As you can see, I also dipped some fresh cherries. Super Yum.

Note: The Mrs. Fields recipe I based this on/hijaked this from uses actual chocolate, but my mother-in-law got me hooked on this almond bark, so that's what I use. You don't really NEED the oil when using the bark, but I liked how it changed the consistency, and I always use it now.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


(Based on a true story ... loosely)

Let's start somewhere easy: I don't remember my childhood. Nothing particularly traumatic happened to me: I asked my parents. But others can recall their preschool years, their second grade plays where they dressed like bunnies and ate cake while sitting on plastic seesaws. I look at my elementary pictures and wonder what fourth grade was like.

Ok, so I lied.

I remember a few things, but one thing I can't remember is how I got this scar on my leg. I sit and stare at it as it shines in the moonlight, the lamplight, the sunlight. And I wonder, where did you come from, little scar? Was I bit by a cat? Did I fall out of a tree? Is this the aftermath of trying to pull a 180 turn in a pile of gravel on the asphalt? I don't know. But as I wonder, my thoughts turn to Shayla.

I discovered Shayla quite by accident. She just sort of appears in my memory, riding a bike on a sunny afternoon. The details of our friendship are fuzzy and my mom didn't want me going to her house and my dad didn't want me near her at all and I gave her my favorite doll before she disappeared from my memory. We were friends - fast friends. Our friendship blossomed quickly, and we were bound together forever the day she showed me her scars.

Why did she show me? Maybe I told her about the time I burned my hand on the stove. According to my folks, when I was, oh, three or so, I reached up and placed my tiny hand on a hot burner. Screaming and wailing on both sides ensued, and the next days were spent with my hand bundled and iced and propped on Dad's or Mom's shoulder as I fitfully dozed on their laps.

I bear no memories of this incident, and no scars.

But maybe I told Shayla this story one lazy summer afternoon while we hid from our folks in the lilac grove and dreamed of lives lived in far-off, exotic locations. Maybe that's why, unexpectedly, she took me into her confidence. Maybe that's why.

She said, "You wanna see something?" and then she took off her shirt to show me her frail little eight-year-old chest.

I had no words.

The swirled, twisted, striped texture of her melted skin stretched from her waist to her neck, over her right shoulder. It drizzled down past her right shoulder blade and disappeared into her shorts.

She held out her right arm. "You can touch it."



It felt smooth and wondrous. It felt foreign. Her shoulder was a silken, alien substance.

"Wow," I breathed. I looked back at her eyes. "What happened?"

Sunlight flickered on our faces as the wind rustled through the lilacs and Shayla pulled her shirt back on.

"Well, when I was four, I pulled a pot of hot water off the stove. My mom turned her back for just a sec. I was sick a real long time."

And that was it. No dramatic re-enactment, no emotion, no inflection of any kind.

We never spoke of it again. I never asked any more questions, and so I received no more answers. But they are always here, those scars. Under her shirt and under the lilacs as the sun flickers softly in the shadow.
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