Tag Archives: gluten free menus

Receptively GFree (No Cross-Contamination)

Finding a caterer who not only understands what gluten free means (it’s not, “just avoid the  couscous on the buffet”) but also has the knowledge and expertise to cook 100% gluten free is a challenge. Finding a caterer who can cook delicious AND affordable gluten free food–no $2 upcharge per GFree roll–sounds like an impossible task.

When planning my wedding, I queried a dozen independent caterers as well as in-house caterers at special events facilities in and around metro Atlanta. Several didn’t even bother to answer me. A few seemed to confuse gluten free with the Atkins diet. “We’ll do an all meat and no carbs dinner,” one offered.

Another said I could just take the rolls off my plate and they wouldn’t put gravy on my chicken breast but everyone else should have the gravy because not having the gravy would made the dish less spectacular.

Uh, no, thanks.

My favorite response was, “Well, the bride never eats at her wedding, anyway. You could just bring snacks for yourself and let us make an unforgettable banquet for your guests.”

Really? Continue reading Receptively GFree (No Cross-Contamination)

Planning a Gluten Free Wedding on a Budget

Apologies for the dearth of posts the last two months. I wasn’t sick or in jail, thank goodness. I was super busy planning a wedding. My wedding. Yes, I planned and pulled off an entire wedding—from appetizers, bridesmaids, and cake to tuxedos, underthings, a veil and white gown…and everything in between—for 100 guests in four months.

It wasn’t that hard. I mean, what else is there to do while recovering from surgical removal of one’s womanly innards and resulting complications thereof?

Sure, I could have wallowed in self-pity: woe is me (or, more correctly, I) for being in pain for five months and counting (I have gotten a bit peevish about the pain on a few occasions). How awful to be in menopause when I’m not even fifty (I got over this pretty quickly). Rue that I’ll never have children of my own (this does prickle me with sorrow from time to time and then I think of all the kids I’ve helped as a teacher or adviser in the past twenty years plus being an aunt is pretty danged awesome). Wallowing is boring and surprisingly exhausting. I prefer to look on the bright side of things.

There were and are a lot of bright sides to the surgery. Number one, I don’t have cancer. We can end the gratitude list right there. What else do I need to feel immensely grateful? The surgery and cancer scare reminded me that life is unpredictable and short. There are no guarantees that I’ll have next year or any years after that, or even next week. Life can change in an instant. The doctor could have found cancer and I could be dying or dead right now.

Given that uncertainty, as well as the good news that, at least for now, I’m not dying, why not go for it and get married to the most wonderful man in the world? And why not do it sooner than later? Continue reading Planning a Gluten Free Wedding on a Budget

Forget the Food Fight and Enjoy a GFree Summer

Summer is happy food season. It’s the time for grilling things to snuggle between toasty bread-y bun-y things. Time for swiping crunchy things into creamy dippy things and then devouring the whole snappy slippery mouthful. It’s timeGFree Barbecue for slowly swirling your tongue around ice cold sweet things and swallowing them before brain freeze sets in. Yes, summer is all about tickling the taste buds and seducing the senses with fabulously fun food, which can be challenging when one has to be strictly gluten and dairy free.

I used to feel like I was waging a food fight, struggling to find gluten free food that wouldn’t break the bank or widen my waistline. The good news is we can find more and better GF products than ever before and they’re now affordably available at your favorite grocery chain and big box retailer, as well as at your nearest health food store or organic grocer. Here a some of my faves. Continue reading Forget the Food Fight and Enjoy a GFree Summer

Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #6 Cool Coat and Cross-Contamination

Schools down here held their last day of classes before the Christmas break on Friday, December 19th. They didn’t reopen until Tuesday of this week. How awesome is that for a winter break? When I was in school, we went until the day before the night before Christmas and we returned on January 2nd, unless the day of the week on which those dates fell gave you a proximal weekend to boot. That made for double depression on New Year’s Day: the holidays are over and we have to go back to school tomorrow. Ugh. No wonder I cried in my closet. I am so glad kids have it better today. Continue reading Ten Lessons Sans Carols: #6 Cool Coat and Cross-Contamination

The Making of a Birthday Party

Party TableI love to cook, bake, make and serve food. I love to plan events. When I get to combine food making with event planning with celebrating someone I love, well, it makes me very, very happy.  This week, I had the pleasure and joy of planning and making my sister’s birthday dinner. Yay!

I have become quite skilled at utilizing mixes and ready made condiments and food accessories to make meals and desserts people really like. When I ate and baked with gluten, I made all kinds of things from scratch and people scratched their heads wondering how I made it all taste so good: pizza dough and pizza, bread, cakes, muffins, appetizers, you name it. Continue reading The Making of a Birthday Party

What a Trip

With the physical and mental stress of being a lab rat intensifying, I tripped.

Took a trip…to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Below is a picture of the sunset over the Tennessee River from the top deck of the Southern Belle Riverboat. Breathtaking.

River Cruise Sunset

It’s only a two hour drive by car from here to there, even with omnipresent GA Highway Patrol officers pointing their speed detection devices at the northbound traffic. I counted no fewer than fifteen marked police cars from the Downtown Connector to the Georgia state line, though I may have missed a few of the cars and their officers already ticketing scofflaws and speedsters.

After crossing the state line and five lanes of traffic to merge onto I-24, Tennessee welcomed us with open arms and nary a speed trap. Maybe Tennessee’s finest made quota earlier and took Friday to attend booster rallies at their nearby footballing university.

Chattanooga is thrillingly gluten free friendly. Thanks to my go-to restaurant finders www.findmeglutenfree.com and www.glutenfreeregistry.com, I began the trip with a list of several restaurants boasting gluten free menus and favorable reviews. If you have celiac disease, then you know how difficult it can be to find restaurants that serve gluten free fare, and how scary it can be to get to one of those restaurants and discover they really have no idea what gluten free dining means.

“We leave the croutons off the salad!” The server excitedly remarks, when you ask if they have gluten free dishes. Then you ask which salad dressings are gluten free and he or she stares blankly at you. I had one server look at me like I was an idiot. “Well, it’s salad dressing, not turkey dressing. There’s no bread in it.”  Resisting the urge to call the server an idiot, I asked to talk to the manager and the server huffily stomped away. I didn’t even wait for the manager; I walked out the door.

None of this happened in Chattanooga. Instead, all three restaurants quickly proffered a gluten free menu and the servers quickly established their knowledge of all things gluten free.

First up was Tupelo Honey Cafe in Warehouse Row. I chose to create a three-item vegetable plate from the eight or so GF side offerings on their gluten free menu. The goat cheese grits begged to be mixed with the salsa verde black-eyed peas and the result thrillingly tickled my tongue with just enough tang from the goat cheese and a little kick of heat in the peas. They were so good, I had them again for dinner the next night, along with this surprising glass of lemonade, peach nectar and fresh rosemary poured over ice. The server said it was super tart and he always thinned it with a little water, but I found it perfect without dilution.  Think of it as an autumnal equinox elixer: bidding farewell to summer lemonade days and welcoming herbal fall with rosemary, a fragrant ingredient in fall stews and poultry roasts.  Yum-o.

In the Bluff View District–Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria, like its siblings the Back Inn Cafe and Rembrandt’s Coffee House, features a “gluten safe” menu, which means they take extra precautions to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen and pantry, thanks to extensive training. Tony’s offers three different kinds of gluten free pasta (spaghetti, penne, and fusilli) with your choice of sauces and proteins. I loved my fusilli with roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, basil and fresh garlic. The GF flatbread served with dipping olive oil and shaved fresh parmesan made me feel like a real person and not a sickly charity case. The flatbread had a chewy hearth-made texture I really liked.

I had lunch twice at 212 Market, the first time with a 10% off coupon given to me by the Visitors Bureau worker who highly recommended it. I am glad she did. The main menu identifies GF items right on it–no special separate menu to forget. I like that GF is mainstream here. The first lunch of grilled rainbow trout with grits and grilled squash seemed so light and delicate it nearly floated on the plate. I ate every bit, except for the trout skin. The second lunch featured pan roasted chicken breast with grape tomatoes and herbs with roasted sweet potato rounds and more of the delicious squash. Another clean plate. I’ve noticed that the chicken dish now has new fall sides: acorn squash and kale hash, which sounds so good! Out with summer, in with fall now that it’s October!

I’m eager to return to Chattanooga and try other food establishments with GF menus like Good Dog, which Chattanooga blogger,  A Southern Celiac, recently reviewed. Good Dog serves  all things hot dogs and sausages. Very gluten free friendly with GF buns, GF dogs, and GF fries as well as GF sauces. That post hipped me to North Shore, the trendy neighborhood across the Tennessee River, accessible by the 2,376 foot pedestrian bridge it seems everyone walks.  I could tell you the wild story of the wine tasting festival held on the bridge and how difficult it was to make our way through the hundreds of people milling around in their stilettos and oxfords, sipping wines from one of fifty, yes, fifty, wine tasting tables, not to mention the people with baby strollers, dogs, and bikes, but that’s another story for another blog. Suffice it to say, those were the longest 2,376 feet I’ve walked in a good while but I made it without getting any wine on me or in me and without getting tripped, hit or run over. Whew!

Although I still am trying to get cross-contaminated to ensure my upcoming endoscopy goes well, meaning they see enough damage to randomize me to take one of the three doses of the investigational drug or a placebo, I didn’t get glutened on my trip. That’s good news, really, because it means I don’t have to suffer to have a good or good-tasting time. Bon apetite!