A morning in the life..

So I woke up this morning and opened the fridge to get the milk.

Trapper immediately and insistently demanded that I allow him to make acquaintance with the large bird who has taken up residence in the fridge. He was MOST disappointed when I told him that the bird is sleeping and can’t be disturbed. He was even more disappointed when I put him outside and told him to spend the day playing football with squirrels.

Then Lucy sat down on the floor next to me, looking rather forlorn.

Me: “Lucy! Did you lose your brains?”

Lucy: ::face looks sad, tail wags hopefully::

Me: “Look! There they are! Under the table!”

Lucy: ::dives under table and sniffs all over::

Lucy: “You were joking, right?? That’s not fair.”

A little while later, Ken calls out from the bedroom that he’s getting stalked by Pete the Vampire Fish (he really does have fangs). If Pete ever found a way to get out of his tank – like, reverse scuba or something – we would all be in trouble.

All the while, Blue Lips is making fish faces at me. Thanksgiving dinner did not include peas this year, and he is most upset and demanding that I go and buy some.

Anyone who’s been to my house knows this is all 100% true.

A Gluten Free Thanksgiving

When I tell people I cannot eat gluten, and then explain that foods like breads and pastas are verboten, I’m frequently asked, “What DO you eat?” (especially here in the South, where all foods must be consumed deep-fried and/or served between two slices of bread)

The question comes up even more often when it comes to Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d share our menu and some tips for other GF folks out there.

Turkey – many turkeys of the “self-basting” variety contain gluten. This has lead many people to spend a lot of money on free range organic turkeys – which, if you have the money, is a worthy investment. However, you don’t HAVE to spend all of that to get a good bird. Ours came from the local grocery store and is the same bird most other families on a budget eat. All I did is read the label. Most turkeys that contain no added gluten will say so, right on the label: GLUTEN FREE or NO GLUTEN.

Mr. Bird gets stuck on a roasting pan and anointed with olive oil. Then he’s stuffed with an apple, an orange, and an onion and sprinkled with assorted GF spices and whole herbs. I cover him loosely with foil and into the oven he goes.

Mashed Potatoes – Potatoes are of course naturally GF – just don’t add any gluten-containing ingredients. My hubby has charge of the taters because he doesn’t mind peeling. He makes a HUGE quantity (for leftovers) and adds a stick of butter, some milk, and a couple spoons of mayonnaise (we use Duke’s brand, which is GF)

Gravy – GF gravy is easy. Just use cornstarch to thicken it. If you like a little darker, richer gravy, add a splash of gluten-free soy sauce to it.

Stuffing – We make two kinds of stuffing… Ken will make the gluten-containing, chemical-laden stuff from a box at the store that everyone loves. I will make the grandest stuffing ever. šŸ˜€

Last night I baked two loaves of bread. One I cut in cubes and placed in the still-warm (but off) oven overnight to get crispy. The other I sliced for eating. Later, I’ll add pan drippings and seasonings and butter and pop it into the oven for a while. I’ve made it before, and it’s heavenly… with this bread I made last night… mmm. It will be glorious. I’ll post the actual recipe later.

Cranberry Sauce – I personally despise the jellied cranberry sauce since I learned to make my own. It’s GF, so if you like it, eat it with abandon. But if you want better, rinse a package of fresh cranberries, add 3/4 cup of sugar and just enough water to cover, and some fresh-squeezed orange and a dash of cinnamon and let it cook on down for a while.

Dinner Rolls – I haven’t tried this, and didn’t find the recipe until late late last night – but I’ll cook them this week to take to my mother in law’s for dinner: http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2009/11/gluten-free-dinner-rolls.html

Vegetables – Veggies are, of course, GF – just make sure anything you dress them up with is also GF. Including the bacon, if you’re in the South and constitutionally unable to cook green beans without bacon. (I’ve never found a substitute for the french fried onion topping, but I’m sure if you’re into that, one can be made)

Sweet Potatoes – I like to microwave sweet potatoes until they’re soft, scoop out the innards, and feed the skins to Lucy (who adores them). Then I whip the potato with a little bit of butter and maple syrup and put it in a pan. It gets tossed in the oven along with the stuffing and baked (covered in foil if needed).

I’m not as big on the whole “candied yams” thing. (For one thing, they’re NOT yams) … but if you are, just be sure to use GF marshmallows.

Desserts – This year I made Pumpkin Stuff (Dunno what to call it, it’s definitely NOT a “mousse” but it’s delish) and apple crisp. If you make the pumpkin stuff, Jello brand vanilla pudding mix is GF. Can’t vouch for any other brands. We’ll serve the apple crisp warm, with Breyers (reliably GF) vanilla ice cream.

With a little planning, enjoying a gluten-free Thanksgiving is pretty easy šŸ™‚

Truly Awesome Gluten Free Bread.

No. Really. This is rockin’ bread that even Kayti (who hates all things GF) liked. Isaiah said it tasted like honey wheat, and I concur (tho there is no honey in it!)

Here’s the recipe for two loaves:

  • 2/3 C sorghum flour
  • 2/3 C cornmeal
  • 2/3 C buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 C white rice flour
  • 1/2 C glutinous rice flour (despite the name, this is gluten-free)
  • 2/3 CĀ  potato starch
  • 2/3 C tapioca starch
  • 2/3 C cornstarch
  • 1T golden flax meal
  • 1 to 2 T whole flax seeds (I mixed regular dark seeds with the golden)
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp vitamin c powder (ascorbic acid)
  • 2 T yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 tablespoons of maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 1/2 C WARM liquid (I used water, you could also use milk or experiment with juice)
  • 4 T oil
  • Sesame Seeds

Directions:

Mix up the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Add the wet to the dry and stir with a spoon. Then use a mixer on high speed for several minutes, until the batter has a bit of elastic feel to it.

Spray two loaf pans with nonstick spray. Fill each halfway with the batter. If you like them, top the loaves with sesame seeds (but don’t feel like you have to – they’re good with or without!)

Place immediately into cold oven and allow to rise @ room temp for 30-40 minutes. Don’t bang the oven door – all those air bubbles are your friend and you don’t want them to burst! If it’s cold or damp, run the oven on warm for a minute or two, shut it off, and put the loaves in. You want it warm, but not overly so.

Bake @ 350 for 45-55 minutes. The top will be brown long before the loaf is done inside. Brown is good, but if it starts to burn lower the heat or cover loosely with foil. Test like a cake – stick a sharp knife down into it. If there’s no goo, it’s done! Turn out onto a cooling rack and let it cool before slicing (or, just dive into it, but don’t expect pretty slices!)

This bread stores well in the freezer, toasts great in a pan (can’t vouch for toaster but I imagine so!).

Tomorrow we’ll see if it makes good turkey stuffing šŸ˜€

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YES – there are eight kinds of flour in this bread. And three kinds of dough conditioners. Worth every bit of effort and expense (I would choose this over wheat bread, methinks).

The trick to buying the flours is to find a nice Oriental or Indian market to purchase them from. Most are costly at the health food store, and amazingly cheap at ethnic markets (sometimes even for the same brand!). Just be sure what you are buying is actually GF.

The trick to combining the flours is simple – use the same size container for all your flours. Stack them up in a row on the counter to the left of your mixing bowl. Add 1 flour and move it to the right. Add another, move it to the right. That way you’re focusing on just 1 at a time and won’t mix them up and add something twice or leave it out!

If you’re allergic to corn, just bump the sorghum up to replace to cornmeal, eliminate the cornstarch and replace it with other starches (yam would probably be nice), use CF salt, and eliminate the xanthan. If you’re allergic to the egg, you can probably experiment with using flaxmeal as egg substitute in this, or try eggbeaters.

Really good news from the doctor!

Woooohoooo!

I just got a note in the mail from my endocrinologist. She put me on Armour Thyroid a couple of months ago. I tried taking it and really, really didn’t feel good about doing so. I felt like the Lord did not want me on this medicine.

I prayed and considered the risks and decided I would put things to a bit of a test – and stopped taking it. Given that I’d been off my meds for some time and my levels were falling toward normal on their own… I considered this an acceptable thing to do.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take this as medical advice. What’s worked for me and my situation may not work for you. If you ever want to stop taking a medication because you feel that God wants you off it (or for any other reason), discuss all risks with your doctor AND research your condition, then make an informed decision.

So – “normal” for TSH is a level between 1 and 3. Last spring my TSH was 91, prompting my doctors to freak out. I was also grossly overweight (80+lbs).

Through a process (that you can read about here on the blog if you search back a bit), I concluded that I am intolerant to gluten and probably have celiac disease. I stopped eating gluten, and just a few weeks later my thyroid was down in the 50’s. That doesn’t happen on its own – my thyroid condition seems to be related to the gluten intolerance.

I went back in for a blood test last week – my new level is 29.9.Ā  (Plus I’ve lost 30lbs, am still losing, and I feel great)

All by itself, my thyroid is normalizing. I don’t need pills! šŸ˜€

I will call the doctor to discuss staying off the medication for another three months and re-testing. If at any point my levels go back up, I would of course re-consider my position. There are huge health risks related to thyroid disease, and my health is very important to me! However, if it’s going to continue going down, I really really don’t need medicine!

Hair care question

OK, I have hair problems.

Most women would love to have the first part of the problem – my hair is very, very thick. Now that it’s short and razored, it’s much easier to deal with. But even with that – it’s still thick.

The second part of the problem comes when my hair is exposed to a lot of chlorine. No matter how much I wash it, and no matter what kind of shampoos I use, it feels very texturized and very, very thick. It becomes hard to brush. The odd thing is it manages to look good. The effect is rather like natural hair spray. (Don’t quite know how to explain it). But when you touch it, it feels weird. And after several days it gets totally unmanageable!

At home, chlorine rarely touches my hair. We don’t have ready access to a pool and we’re blessed with well water. My hair stays soft and, well, normal. But when we travel and I swim and shower with chlorinated water, this happens. After I get home, I have to wash my hair several times for the effect to go completely away.

Does this happen to anyone else? If so, what do you do for it?