Monthly Archives: July 2008

Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix Ever

We just got back from our vacation last night.  I slept 11 hours last night, and woke up this morning still tired.  I told my husband, “I feel like I could sleep for two days!!”  I probably could.  Now that I’m 6.5 months pregnant, it doesn’t help fatigue that I have a baby pushing up on my lungs, diminishing my lung capacity.

Anyways.

I will soon post vacation pics and stories.

In the meantime, as I’ve been going through my 183 e-mails, I’ve been having an e-converstaion with a fellow celiac, who is in need of some support.  She, among other things, asked what flours I used.  For a cake recipe I sent to her, I told her that 1/2 sweet rice flour and 1/2 sorghum flour would work great.  But, for my everyday baking, I now use a flour mix that I semi-recently concocted.

I have been working for literally YEARS, tinkering with mixtures to make a genuinely all-purpose mix.  I think I’ve finally found one.  I’ve been using it for about six weeks, and have used it in all sorts of recipes, sweet and savory.  For me, a real test of a flour mix’s effectiveness is how well it works in super-simple recipes, like for biscuits.  Everyone in the family says that the biscuits I’ve made from this flour are the best I’ve ever made.  My husband said they’re better than the pre-celiac/regular wheat flour biscuits I used to make.  Woo hoo!  I haven’t tried them in shortbread, which, IMO, is the extreme-simple test of g.f. flours…  If anyone beats me to it, and tries it in shortbread, let me know your results.

Notes:

  • I say “part” instead of cups.  Sometimes, I use a 2-cup measure, sometimes I use a 4-cup.  Especially when I’m using larger amounts, I don’t even worry about exact measurements.  Don’t bring out the knife and level it off.  Try to keep it as simple as possible.
  • For xanthan gum and potato FLOUR, I use 1 tsp per cup of flour.  Since there are 3 tsp in one Tbsp, and 4 Tbsp in a quarter cup, when I’m using the 4-cup measure, that equals a slightly rounded 1/4 cup measure.

Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix Ever

  • 1 part brown rice flour
  • 1 part sorghum flour (also known as jawar or juwar flour)
  • 1 part white rice flour
  • 1 part sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 part corn starch
  • 1/2 part potato starch
  • 1/4 part millet flour (either ‘black’/bajri or ‘normal’ yellow)
  • potato flour – 1 tsp per cup
  • xanthan gum – 1 tsp per cup

Whisk together VERY thoroughly in a very large bowl.  Store in tightly covered container — I use gallon ziploc freezer bags.  If you bake a lot, and will use all the flour within two-three weeks, simply store in your pantry.  Otherwise, store in fridge or freezer.

June 25, 2011 — I just sent this e-mail to a reader who was bemoaning the cost of the above ingredients.  I sent her this reply with hints to find them for less:

Getting started with gluten-free baking is, indeed, very pricey.  Most ingredients, as you have found, are not ones that are readily available (at least, for cheap) at the neighborhood market. 

If you live in/near a large city, your best bet for at least some of the ingredients are an Asian market.  Unless you’re well-acquainted with your local Asian market, prepare to spend a LONG time finding the ingredients you need.  All of the Asian markets I’ve been in are typically organized per country:  An aisle for Japanese, an aisle for Chinese, and aisle for Indian food, and aisle for Middle Eastern, etc.  So, rather than there just being ONE aisle for flour, you’ll be criss-crossing the store to find each ingredient.  But, once you find your way, and remember where each product is located, it’s worth it, because the prices are typically 1/4 – 1/3 (or better) than a regular grocer.  Also, if you have a smart phone, bring it along while shopping, so you can Google the name of a flour to find its English-language equivalent.

White rice flour and sweet rice (also called glutinous rice four) are typically available for 70 cents to $1.00 per 12-16 oz bag.  The regular rice flour is typically in a clear plastic bag with red ink.  Glutinous/sweet rice flour is usually in a bag with green ink.  (You can probably find them in other packaging, too, but the red and green packages are really common, and usually the least expensive.)  Corn starch, potato starch, and millet flour (with the Middle Eastern food, usually, for yellow millet.  Black millet — bajri — you can find in the Indian section) I buy from my Asian market, as well.  I also buy sorghum from there.  Sorghum is used a lot in northern Indian cuisine, and is usually called Jawar or Juwar flour.

Oddly, you will probably NOT find brown rice flour in an Asian market.  Both Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills make brown rice flour.  Usually, Arrowhead Mills has the best price.

Xanthan gum is expensive.  It’s typically in 6-8 oz packages for $9-11 per package.  However, at my local natural grocer, they have xanthan gum in bulk for $5.99 lb.  Still expensive, but half of “normal.”

Potato flour is very expensive, as well.  I buy Bob’s Red Mill. 

The only good news about the most expensive ingredients — xanthan gum and potato flour — is that you only use a few teaspoons per recipe.  However, that is only effective if you do a LOT of gluten-free baking. 

So….  if you plan on only making one or two items, and don’t want to make a giant investment, you might be better off buying ready-made mixes.  🙂

Hope that helps!!


 

Her name is…

I’m slammed with preparations for our family vacation, but I had to write. 

(By the way, our house will not be empty, and our doggie will not be lonely.  A young man named Dillon will be staying here in our absence.)

At dinner tonight, Audrey started talking about her yet-to-be-born baby sister, and Martin said, “Your baby sister named Fiala?”  My jaw dropped.  I have been waiting for 3+ years to name a dear daughter of ours “Fiala.”  That’s what I had wanted to name Audrey, though I’m happy she’s Audrey.  “Fiala” is smuch too peaceful a name for crazy firecracker named Audrey.  He vaguely agreed that, if we had another girl, we could name her Fiala. 

So, before I got pregnant with this little girl, I said to Martin, “You know, if I get pregnant, and it’s a girl, I get to name her Fiala!”  But, now that I am pregnant, and it is with a girl, much to my consternation, he’s been, “Weeelllll…  I don’t know…”

It’s been hard, because it’s not like I want to twist his arm into naming our daughter a name he really detests.  But, I adore that name, for lots of reasons.  Admittedly, I’ve liked some unusual names that, in retrospect, I’m glad we ended up with boys and so were unable to use the name.  But, this one has stood the test of time.  Well, three years, anyways.  I still like it.  Martin, however, wasn’t convinced. 

But, there at the dinner table, he pronounced, “Yes, her name is Fiala Marie.”

Now, Marie is not my most favorite name… Obviously, I like unique names.  But, I said, “If you say we can name her Fiala, you can pick ANYTHING as her middle name!”

Martin said, “Marie means ‘beloved’.”  And he likes that.  (Well, actually, I just looked it up, and all I could find was that it means ‘bitter’.  Hm.)

Fiala means ‘violet’ in Czech.  It also means ‘daughter’ in Latin.

Mothering ups and downs

My husband and I went, tonight, to our pastor’s surprise 60th birthday party.  It was wonderful. 

Watching the kids, for the second time this week, was our brand-new babysitter, Callie.  She’s the best friend of another babysitter of mine, who happens to be in New Orleans for a month doing mission work right now.

Callie, by the way, is twenty, and was homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade, and her mother is a midwife.  She’s the 3rd of eight children, so it’s not like my four kids are a shock to her system or anything.

Upon arriving home, after a whole five hours away, I received a glowing report from Callie that went something like this, “Your children are a joy to watch.  They’re fun, obedient, pleasant, and polite.  I really enjoy taking care of them.” 

Light as a feather, and slightly in shock from such a fantastic report, I saw Callie out the door.  Then, I went to go pray for the boys, who had just gone to bed.

As I chatted a bit with Ethan, my 11yo, before prayer, I related to him what Callie said.

He replied, with a huff of indignation, “Yeah, except for the two times Wesley started screaming.  When Audrey was asleep.”

Me:  “Screaming?  Did he get angry or something.”

Ethan:  “No, he got hurt.  Mom, he screamed so loud it made my ears hurt.”

Me:  “Screamed because he got hurt??  What happened?”

Ethan:  “Well, the first time, he tripped and fell hard into the coffee table.  He was so loud.  I kept telling him to be quiet.  He just kept screaming.”

Me:  “The second time must have been when Grant ran into him.  Wesley told me about that one.  So, did you comfort him?”

Ethan:  “No.  Mom, my ears were hurting!”

Me:  “And it didn’t really dawn on you that your ears were hurting because Wesley was in extreme pain from hitting his head?  You were just thinking about a) him being loud, and b) your ears hurting?  You didn’t think he might need some comfort of any kind?”

Ethan:  “No.”

Me:  “And you don’t see anything wrong with that?”

Ethan:  “No.”

Me:  “Well, it sounds like that would have been a good time to show some compassion and comfort to your little brother who was in a great deal of pain.”

Ethan, dubiously:  “Oh.”

My bubble over their great behavior for Callie popped.  Back to reality.

Me:  “Well, ideally, no one will scream when Audrey is sleeping, but in the future, if someone is in pain, it would be much more effective to show a little compassion to them, instead of just getting upset at them for being loud.”

Ethan, not convinced:  “OK.”

So, I prayed for him, including a bit for the heart of Jesus to grow in him, so that he’d be compassionate to the hurting.

~sigh~

What I’ve been doing in the last week (pregnancy news/doctor frustration)

Last Wednesday, a week ago, I had a prenatal visit with my OB.  I told him about a seemingly minor problem I’m having, that was more of an annoyance than anything.  I wasn’t really happy with his reply, so I turned to the expert group of moms on a homeschooling forum I’ve participated in, in the past.  Many of them are practicing nurses, and many of them have, well, had a lot of babies.

Long story short, it turns out that my “annoyance” apparently has roots in something more serious, and it ups my risk of bleeding while in labor and delivery, and for potential long-term problems after the baby is born.  I’m still in the information-gathering stage, and honestly, it’s been hard to get info, because what I have is quite uncommon.  I’m trying to figure out if this will increase the possibility of me needing a cesarean section or something like that, and so far, I haven’t received any really good answers.  It seems that all the information on my situation is “anecdotal,” meaning that since no major studies have been done, no one seems to know for sure.

ETA:  I’ve been doing some careful looking online — ACK!!  gotta be careful what terms one types into Google — and the only agreement seems to be that there is no agreement on the risk and treatment, neither between doctors nor midwives.  I’ve seen anything from a footnoted textbook source saying “rupture… and fatal hemmorage… is not unknown” to “it will resolve after birth, no treatment required.” 

My OB doesn’t seem to care, which is really bothering me.  His attitude has been kind of like, “Well, you’re not likely to die from a hemmorage.”  In other words, in his book, since I’ll live, it’s not that big of a deal.

The reason I switched to him after my old OB retired is because he was the one who actually delivered Audrey, and it was a fantastic experience.  He used to be in practice with my “old” OB, and I met with him once before Audrey was born, “just in case” he was the doc on call when I went into labor.  He was.  And, he remembered everything we had talked about, which was basically to produce a non-invasive, gentle, med-free birth with minimal pushing, and no trauma to myself.  That’s what I ended up with, and I was as pleased as punch.

But, now that he’s actually my doctor, it seems like he really doesn’t care about avoiding all the medical interference that, in the past, with four babies now, I’ve been able to avoid…  I don’t want a c-section.  I don’t want to be induced, and I don’t care how “late” I am*.  I don’t even want my water broken.  I don’t want meds.  I don’t want to be hovered over and pressured by doctors or nurses.  And, I want minimal trauma to myself, too. 

And his attitude now is, “Well, if the baby comes out healthy, then it’s all OK.”

Well, it’s not all OK with me!!  I know that boatloads of women have had and recovered fine from a c-section, but really, I’d like to avoid major surgery.  But, neither do I want to bleed excessively and have physical trauma that’s difficult to recover from, simply because I don’t want a c-section.  Does that make sense?

So… if you could pray for me, that would be fabulous.  I want to be able to find out more, and better information.  I want to be safe and healthy.  I’d really like to be able to deliver this baby girl similarly to how I delivered my other four children.  And, I don’t want to be in fear, no matter what happens.

Thank you, friends.

—————–

* In semi-related news, I had to twist his arm to get him to move my due date BACK to its original date of October 22, which was based on my LMP.  After my first ultrasound, he moved it up to October 10, because the baby appeared to be further along than my dates would indicate.  But with the second u/s I had, it indicated an EDD of October 20.  He wasn’t going to change it.  His attitude was, “Well, the earlier ultrasounds are usually more accurate.”  But, my contention was, “I don’t want it to get to October 12, 14, 16 and you’re pressuring me to induce, when the baby’s not ready — and never was ready — to come out until the 20th or 22nd or 24th!”  His reply?  “Well, inducing isn’t that big of a deal.  The latest stats are that up to 75% of deliveries are now induced.”  LIKE THAT’S A GOOD THING?????  LIKE THAT’S OK???  I told him, “Well, if you induce, that means pitocin.  If I have pitocin, that means I will need pain meds.  And, if I am induced and go on pain meds, that will increase my chances of ending up with a c-section.  I don’t want pain meds.  I don’t want a c-section.  I want a natural birth, like I’ve had for all four of my other children.”  He said, “Well…  I don’t know if inducing leads to a higher rate of c-sections [IT DOES], but you would certainly need pain meds.”  After I walked him through my own file, to show him that October 22 is a reasonable EDD, he semi-begrudgingly changed it.  👿

I don’t WANT a refund!

I will admit:  I often call customer service toll-free numbers, probably about once a week.  Usually, it’s just when I have a question about the ingredients of a product, since we have such weird dietary restrictions around here.  But, I’ve frequently called to express thanks or appreciation for a product.  VERY rarely, do I call to complain. 

I’m particular about my plastic wrap.  I’ve been buying Glad Cling-Wrap for at least 13 years, the length of my marriage.  I think I developed a preference for that particular product before I got married, so it’s probably closer to 15 or 17 years.  And, I use it daily, or close to it.  So, you could say I’m very familiar with Cling-Wrap.

The last package I bought, about a week ago, has given me no end of frustration.  It is my guess that Glad is now making the plastic wrap thinner, which is leading it to stick to itself with a clingy perseverance, so much so that it often won’t unroll.  Then, when it does unroll, it tears.  I take the roll out of the container, find where the tear started, re-start the roll, all whilst grumbling.  Finally, I pull out an untorn sheet, and it clings to itself and won’t untangle. 

So, I called Glad, with the motivation to say something simple like, “Is glad making Cling-Wrap thinner?  If so, I would like to express my hopes that they will return to the ‘old’ formulation.  Thank you very much.”

Instead, I got a lady who did not answer any of my questions.  She simply thanked me for reporting my “very unusual situation” and told me that she would forward my “complaint” to the proper department, and would like to issue me a coupon for a free product.

Um.  That’s not what I wanted.

Then, she forwarded me to an automated survey that, as I pressed numbers 1-7 on the keypad, measured my satisfaction with the call, with the c.s. rep, if I was likely to buy the product again, how many people were in my family, then how much money we make.

Ugh.

I don’t think of myself as a highly-demanding consumer.  I’m not petulant.  I’m not trying to scam any company into sending me loads of product.  I don’t think I’ve ever even asked for a refund.

But, I do like my questions to be answered, and it’s frustrating to me when a c.s. rep, who, it would seem, should be equipped to answer consumers’ questions, has no answers, but just wants to shove free product at me and say, “Will you still be our customer?”

Thus, I gripe on my blog.  😆

In the grand scheme of things, is it really going to damage my life if my plastic wrap isn’t up to my expectations?  Well, no.  Not at all.  But, if a company is producing a product, and I regularly use that product, and all of a sudden, the product stops performing as usual, I’d really like some recourse.  NOT a refund;  I want my good product back.  Harumph.

Easiest Meat Marinade Ever

The last few days, I’ve been spending more time than usual on a homeschooling forum that I used to be addicted to participate in regularly, but when my dear friend had some problems with other members, and the whole thing was, in my opinion, highly mismanaged by the site/curriculum creators/administrators, I got a bad taste in my mouth, and left.

But…  I recently have had a concern regarding my pregnancy that I didn’t want to publish to the world on my blog, but I did want some BTDT opinions and professional answers, and I wasn’t happy with what my OB told me.  In addition to that forum being secure and private, it is populated with a wealth of nurses — most of them still practicing — who are also homeschooling moms.

(This doesn’t sound like a marinade recipe, does it???  Hang with me;  I’ll get there.)

Now that I’ve had some of my fears alleviated, and some exacerbated, as a result of my original post on the Sonlight Forums, I’ve been further poking around on my favorite part of the board, the clumsily-named Homemaking, Shopping Tips, Health & Fitness Discussion.

Someone asked for a recipe for marinating round steak, and I posted my suggestion.  I’d actually been meaning to post the recipe to this blog anyways.

So, without any further ado:

Easiest Meat Marinade Ever

(All of this is approximate; I usually just get out a big ziploc bag and pour it all in, mix it right in the bag by sealing and squooshing the bag, then I add the meat.)

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2-4 cloves pressed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • –whatever herb/spice sounds appealing to me**–
  • PLUS, about 2 Tbsp liquid soy lecithin

The soy lecithin (found in the supplements area of my natural foods store) is a natural emulsifier and slight thickener. It makes the oil mix with the vinegar and water, and makes the marinade thick enough that it sticks to the meat, even when grilling. It gives the meat a finished/professional/restaurant appearance, especially chicken. I do this with beef, pork and chicken. Generally, for tough cuts like round, I’ll let it marinate 8-24 hours.  Other meats, anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours. 

**for Italian seasoning, I just use an Italian herb blend plus dried onion. For Mexican, I use ground cumin, Mexican oregano, a little bit of red/cayenne pepper, and dried onion. Also, I often buy no-salt herb/spice mixtures at the store, and use them. The possibilities are endless.

Getting chewed out by fellow celiacs

I’ve known for nearly six years that I have celiac disease, but I have long avoided my local celiac support group.  I signed up a few months ago for their Yahoo group e-mail loop, and I’m having mixed feelings about it.  I guess it’s similar to why I don’t usually participate in homeschool groups — it gets political, with lots of people jostling for their own opinions to be *THE* opinion of the group, some with really forceful opinions, even trying to induce guilt…  Ugh.

I chimed into a discussion, totally clueless about where it would lead.  I’m not as upset about it now as I was a couple of hours ago… I think I’ve received nine personal (off-group) e-mails, and seven of them have been supportive, and some have even given me thanks for standing up to what are essentially the group bullies.  But, still, it has hurt to be chewed out by fellow celiacs when I feel like I go way over the top to provide a safe diet for my kids (and myself, and my hubby….).

You may not care at ALL about this, but I’m gonna post the discussion here.

It started by a woman just asking about gluten-free hot dogs.  Several people had suggested some high-end, hard-to-find suggestions, so to try to put a little money-saving into our efforts, but still be gluten-free, I offered this:

I also want to alert everyone to the new Oscar Meyer/Kraft Natural, smoked, uncured beef franks that have no nitrate or nitrites added, available at Fry’s (and maybe other grocery stores, but Fry’s is where I found them). They are the same price as other Oscar Meyer hot dogs, and have 6 bun-length hotdogs in a 12 oz package.

I have had great success calling Kraft about gluten and other dietary/allergen concerns; I’ve always found them to be extremely helpful. I did call them again today to double-check on the “flavorings” that are listed in the ingredients. All of the ingredients, by the way, are: beef, water, sea salt, potassium lactate (from corn), epaporated cane juice, celery powder, flavor, lactic acid starter culture. Anyways, while they wouldn’t say exactly where the “flavor” was derived, they did say that it’s not derived from any of the “big” allergens, including wheat.

Additionally, Kraft, as an entire company, lists all gluten sources, not just wheat. They will disclose if an ingredient — even in trace amounts — is from wheat, rye, barley, oats, triticale, spelt, farina, mir, or kamut. (I’ve never even heard of mir; I’ll have to look that up!) Also, though it isn’t relevant to these hot dogs, ALL of Kraft’s “modified food starch” sources are from corn, potato, or tapioca.

I hope that helps.

I know that, for our family, I have been *THRILLED* to buy these from a regular supermarket. Reasonably priced, readily available, safe for celiacs, all-natural, no nitrites/nitrates, great taste… I’ve bought numerous packages. (I do wish they were lower in fat — 14g per hot dog. But, I’ll take what I can get.)

~Karen

This was a response I received:

Karen and all,
Don’t be too fooled by Kraft. I got ill after consuming one of their salad dressings. When I contacted Kraft I had to be persistant but polite to get clearer answers.

For example, she pointed out that none of their products are produced on dedicated lines and in the future their labels will state that cross contamination is posssible on all of their products.

She also stated that they will disclose the 8 major food allergens but admitted they do not have to tell us if barley or rye is hidden in anything.

Quoting from your e-mail “Anyways, while they wouldn’t say exactly where the “flavor” was derived, they did say that it’s not derived from any of the “big” allergens, including wheat.”?? Yes, a nice way of not saying much. The 8 big allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. As you can see that doesn’t help us too much if we are trying to find out about hidden rye and oats (for some) and barley. They are following the law but morally I think they should give full disclosure.

Just be careful.
Take care,
Anne

I think what bothered me about that was telling me not to be fooled.  Umm…  OK. 

My response:  (By the way, this particular loop doesn’t allow for bolded text, which is why I ended up capitalizing a number of words.)

Anne ~

Yes, I realize that anything that is not 100% made from scratch, grown from my own garden, runs *some* risk. My intentions (as every celiac’s should be) is to do the absolute best to be 100% gluten-free, and when in doubt, do everything I can to absolutely minimize the risk. There are simply going to be times — MANY times, MOST times — when I’m at the mercy of people who simply don’t know as much about celiac disease as I do, from well-meaning friends to large food companies.

I’m not “fooled” by Kraft. I know, like 99% of other food producers, they do not have dedicated food lines, and there is going to be *some* risk of cross-contamination, as with pretty much every other food item out there. Heck, many GLUTEN-FREE producers don’t have dedicated lines!!

And, yes, legally, Kraft (and EVERY OTHER COMPANY) doesn’t have to disclose barley. But, if the c.s. rep is to believed, Kraft CHOOSES to disclose it, and rye, and kamut, oats, etc. I have no reason to believe that the lady I spoke with yesterday is lying. And, for YEARS, I have found Kraft to be one of the few large food companies who bends over backwards to at least TRY to accomodate food intolerances.

Is there *SOME* risk? Yes. There’s ALWAYS some risk.

But, as celiacs, can we choose to give our business to companies who at least make a concerted effort to minimize our risk? I don’t know about you, but I say, “Yes.” I will choose to patronize a company who is a) aware of the risks to celiacs and b) does their best to minimize those risks.

Otherwise, you’re stuck eating only Lundberg Farms rice, Tinkyada pasta, and fruit for the rest of your life.

I will NEVER eat any food that I know contains gluten, but there are times when — as the mother of nearly five children in a family who has FOUR members eating gluten-free — I have to make some choices that might, to some, appear slightly risky, like eating Kraft Natural hot dogs.

~Karen

I got this response, which sounds fairly reasonable, but I take it with a grain of salt because the guy owns a health foods store, which offers its own g.f. stuff, so I think his response is self-serving.  When anyone has a question about food items, he pretty much just says, “Buy the foods I have for sale.”:

Karen,
It is not just the use or non-use of barley or its disclosure. It is the cross-contamination of the machinery that the product is made on. The only SAFE gluten free products other than the ones that you make are the products made in a dedicated gluten free facility. Yes, I know these products costs more, but you have no choice. I have said this before in emails and it looks like it bears repeating, CD will still be active if you eat foods prepared in non-dedicated facilities. It is your choice, but be prepared for the consequences if you choose to eat commerically prepared foods.

James,Owner
Tri-Valley Health Foods

Still, though, he was reasonable compared to this lady, who changed the title of the thread to “FORGET KRAFT!!”

Thank you, James!!! I second everything you said. WHY is anybody going
anywhere or using products that are not strictly gluten-free? The big
manufacturers (e.g. KRAFT) are catering to mainstream America; they are NOT interested
in accommodating those with food allergies. There is no money in that. Big
business is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!! The same with the Chain restaurants.
STOP going to the chain restaurants! Most of them don’t know what gluten is
and/or don’t care. It doesn’t pay for them to care.
There are dedicated facilities, such as Gluten-Free Creations, in Phoenix,
AZ that are Certified Gluten-Free and therefore, TOTALLY dedicated to meeting
our needs. If we give them our business, they will grow and flourish and
continue to offer us great products and increase their product line.

There are also restaurants with Gluten-Free menus that we need to patronize
and stop trying to reinvent the wheel or bang our head against a wall that
doesn’t care. The BIG CHAINS only care about mainstream America.

I always appreciate it when others on this listserve inform us of
independently owned restaurants (e.g. Kona Grill) that will cater to our allergies and
may even have a Gluten-Free menu for us. I have created a list of such
restaurants if anyone is interested.

If we don’t patronize the restaurants and bakeries that cater to the
gluten-free folks, they will not survive and go away. It would be an awful shame
and so regretful for them to disappear because we don’t patronize those that
choose to serve us so well.

Please give your business to those who are dedicated to helping us to eat
well.

Sincerely,
Susan

What particularly got to me was the suggestion that people like me make dedicated gluten-free companies go out of business.  Well… golly.  I think what may make them go out of business is the excessive cost!  I responded, to James’ post:

I thought you might chime in, James.
I most certainly have the health of my family to consider. But, also, I’m already paying about $175/week in groceries, eating as much from scratch as possible, baking and cooking virtually everything on my own — including making four loaves of GFCF wholegrain bread per week, and my own rice milk — eating as much organic as possible, plus feeding my seriously carnivorous husband.

I can’t afford to buy everything from dedicated facilities. I just can’t.

Plus, some items, like Enjoy Life’s foods, just aren’t that good! It’s hard for me to justify paying $5.00+ for a small bag of bad, but safe, granola, when I can pay (at most, with a coupon) $3.50 for a big box of g.f. Rice Chex that surely runs a risk of cross-contamination.

My own symptoms are immediate. But my 6yo son’s sensitivities eclipse mine. And, he is absolutely healthy, showing no signs of CD, in spite of me feeding him foods like Kraft’s hot dogs or chips like plain Doritos (which possibly also run a risk of gluten and dairy cross-contamination). He seriously came close to death at age 13 months due to celiac symptoms, and 5.5 years later is a thriving boy (with totally healthy poop, among other things) who happens to have some serious food intolerances and allergies. Not that I use my own dear child’s health as a barometer for risky foods, but if I was feeding him something that wasn’t right, I’d know it IMMEDIATELY.

I know not everyone will agree, but at some point, especially if I don’t want to drive my family into bankruptcy, I have to be reasonable about our diet. I can’t pay $7 a pack for Shelton’s hot dogs, and I WON’T buy Enjoy Life’s granola (though I do get Perky-O’s and Nutty Rice). I can’t pay $8 for a loaf of bread from Gluten Free Creations, though I applaud their efforts. I can’t pay $10 for a mini-cherry pie from Whole Foods’ dedicated gluten-free facility.

I’m just trying to strike a balance between my family’s finances, health, my own time — I already shop regularly at FIVE grocery stores, trying to accomodate everyone’s diet, PLUS, I spend a LOT LOT LOT of time in the kitchen.

I hope that makes sense.

I’m not angry… but I do think that folks who are single, simply worrying about their own diet, and not having to feed six people, are sometimes rather unreasonable.

I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom, and by the grace of God, my husband has a fantastic job. If you live in a Shea Home, chances are, he designed it. However, we are still on a limited income, and I simply can’t buy all my food from a specialty/healthfood store… So, I get my white rice flour (and potato starch, and tapioca starch, and sorghum and millet flour) from the Asian grocery, and make other slightly “risky” purchases.

~Karen
11/02
(plus a husband on a g.f. diet to eliminate alopecia areata, plus a 6yo celiac who also has a severe dairy allergy and is anaphylaxic to peanuts, plus a 2yo who is highly suspected celiac and allergic to dairy, plus a 9yo who is also on a GFCF diet due to a learning/life disorder that is on the autism spectrum)

And… that’s where it stands now.  I’ve gotten six private responses in support of what I wrote above, as well as one — very kind, very reasonable — “I can see both sides” response, posted publically from a lady who’s at the heart of the local g.f. movement, and has been g.f. since 1996.

Maybe it’s not as big of a deal as it feels right now, and I must say that those six private responses have left me feeling a lot less like I’m some gluten-poison-monger.  But…  I still feel rather slimed.

A sudden dearth of babysitters

My oldest son is eleven.  That means I’ve been hiring babysitters for nearly twelve years.  Historically, I’ve been awash in young women who aren’t just some freckly kid down the street who rolls her eyes and adopts an attitude like you paying her $10 is her doing you a favor, but genuine, responsible, fun, Godly, available, lovely young women.

It seems, though, as though that door is closing, and I’m more than a little panicked, especially as I prepare to have my fifth child.

Here’s a rundown:

  • Cassie:  She has been watching my kids since I only had one of ’em, back when she was 11-going-on-18.  I have long told her mom, “If I ever have a daughter, I’d love for her to turn out just like Cassie.”  However, she’s now graduated from ASU, has a full-time job (a paid internship with NASA), is 21, and, frankly, has a life of her own.  As glad as I am to adjust my perspective of Cassie — from girl/employee to woman/friend — I really miss having her watch my kids.
  • Kimberlee:  Cassie’s 17yo younger sister.  Kim got a job at Target last fall, and Target has discovered what I’ve known for a long time:  Kim is a tireless worker with a fantastic attitude.  This summer, Target’s been working her 30-40 hrs/week, and, well, that just doesn’t leave a lot of time for babysitting.  ~sigh~
  • Mackenzie:  Mackenzie’s been watching my kids for nearly as long as Cassie has.  Mackenzie is just lovely.  Lovely.  I have the semi-secret desire that, one day, Mackenzie will marry a guy named Dillon, who goes to my church.  She doesn’t go to my church, and that has long been a babysitting-bonus, because when you have babysitters that go to your own church, chances are, they’re going to be asked for their services by 10 other couples who want to go to the same church event that you do…  She was like my ace in the hole.  Talented and smart, she wants to become a nurse so that she can be a medical missionary.  She just finished her fourth year at ASU, and decided to take a few more classes in the fall semester so that she can graduate with not only a major, but two minors.  She leaves on Friday for a month-long mission trip to New Orleans, taking with her…
  • Hannah:  Hannah is Mackenzie’s sister.  Absolutely sweet, tennis-playing Hannah, who never has a complaint about my kids.  Ever.  I suspect she’s lying half the time.  Hannah is about to enter her senior year of high school, and I was happy that, even though all my other regular babysitters are unavailable this summer, at least I might have Hannah, at least Thursdays – Sundays, since she nannies for a friend of mine Mondays – Wednesdays.  Well, then the plan changed, and she’s going to go to N.O., too.
  • There’s a host of others, who would watch my kids from time to time… some of them now with full-time jobs of their own, some moved out of town, plus a couple teen guys who I was happy to have watch my boys for short jobs, but now that I have a girl… it just doesn’t seem right.  Some moms, like back when they only had one or two, and I only had one or two… but now, they might have three or four, and I have four, and saddling some poor mother with eight kids just doesn’t seem right, either.

I’ve had a longstanding view that one simply doesn’t ask the parents to babysit… which I’ve broken, I think, three times already this summer.  And, Martin has used up way more of his PTO than ever in recent months, coming home early, or leaving for work late, so that I can get that doctor appointment in…  ~sigh~  Really.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  And, I have yet another doc appt tomorrow afternoon;  it doesn’t look like anyone is available;  I’ve already rescheduled the appt once, and Martin already took time off on Monday for me to get some lab work done… 

Wah wah.

One-Word Meme

I got this from Steve, who didn’t tag me.  Probably, like myself, he’s worried about over-tagging.

One.  Word.  Only.  No.  Repeats.

1. Where is your cell phone?  Countertop
2. Your significant other?  Valuable
3. Your hair?  Greying
4. Your mother?  Persevering
5. Your father?  Brilliant
6. Your favorite time of day?  Nighttime
7. Your dream last night?  Unremembered
8. Your favorite drink?  Horchata
9. Your dream goal?  Multitudinous
10. The room you’re in?  Kitchen
11. Your ex?  None
12. Your fear?  Fear?
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?  Here
14. What you are not?  Vindictive
15. Your Favorite meal?  Risotto
16. One of your wish list items?  KitchenAid
17. The last thing you did?  Read
18. Where you grew up?  Phoenix
19. What are you wearing?  Tanktop 
20. Your TV is?  WowWowWubbzy
21. Your pets?  Dog
22. Your computer?  Outdated
23. Your life?  Blessed
24. Your mood?   Content 
25. Missing someone?  Hubby
26. Your car?  Suburban
27. Something you’re not wearing?  Stilettos
28. Favorite store?  Imports
29. Your summer?  Scorching
30. Your favorite color?   Purple
31. When is the last time you laughed?  Morning
32. When is the last time you cried?  Sunday
33. Your health?  Reasonable
34. Your children?   Many! 
35. Your future?   Secure 
36. Your beliefs?  Christian
37. Young or old?   Youngish 
38. Your image?   Ummm… 
39. Your appearance?  Pregnant
40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know?   Surely

I’ll tag Karen, because she’s the writer of my newest favorite blog, and she has such a fantastic name.

And Kiva, because she apparently needs motivation to start blogging again.

And Becca, an old Sonlight Forums friend, whose blog I recently discovered.  She posted a “bucket list” recently that seriously could have been my very own.  Plus, she has a son named Wesley, so you know she’s gotta be cool.

It sounds reasonable

Cuddle Holds

In general, Audrey’s not a cuddly, snuggly little girl.  Sometimes, when she gives a hug, and it’s longer than a millisecond, the boys start counting, “One, two, three… twelve!  That’s a new record!!”

But, she transforms, occasionally, when wrapped in her favorite blankets from head to toe.  She calls it “cuddle-holding.”  She pops her thumb in her mouth, grabs the blanket tag, closes her eyes, and makes tiny, contented squeaking sounds.  When being cuddle-held, she often proclaims herself a baby.

When I weaned Audrey in January, she was older than a year and a half, and quite aware of the arrangement.  The arrangement of nursing, that is, and she was quite pleased with it.  She’s been mourning its loss ever since.  She calls nursing “num,” and still checks in, at least once or twice a week, to see if it’s still an option.  It’s not.  The Baby Cafe is closed for the season.

This morning, I was cuddle-holding her, and we had this conversation:

Audrey:  I a baby, Mommy!

[pause, closes eyes and sucks thumb to demonstrate her babyishness]

Audrey, opening eyes:  Babies have num, Mommy!

[pause, surely for dramatic effect, while holding my gaze]

Audrey:  Audrey have num!!

Me, laughing:  Well, you’re very clever, but you still don’t get num.

Audrey, with sad resignation:  Baby sister have num.

Me:  Yes, when your baby sister comes, she’ll have num.

Audrey:  [huge sigh]

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