Friday, October 28, 2011

Celiac: After the sob induced diagnosis.

Okay. So I didn't really sob after finding out I had Celiac Disease, but I did shed a tear for this amazing cheese herb bread that I had just discovered and now will no longer be able to enjoy. Such is life. I can't enjoy my Size 2 jeans or my used-to-be perfect 20/20 vision either. You just move on.

Afraid I would be existing solely on eggs and water for the next 50 years I contacted my cousin, Kelly. She's one of those women that can do anything life throws at her and she does it well. With a Martha Stewart style. Each of her three children has a special - and different - dietary need. Trust me when I say she knows her way around a Gluten Free kitchen.

And Kelly took me shopping. We spend hours wandering around Walmart alternating between seriously discussing ingredient labels and laughing so hard I was going to pee. We even ran into my sister, which is an incredibly dangerous situation - but her husband pulled her out before we could consider margaritas in the canned veggie aisle.

At Kelly's advice, here's what I did:

I LABELED!

I had this box of old dot matrix printer labels... I had even joked about the box awhile ago on Facebook. What on earth would I do with 5,000 old labels?

As soon as I was home from shopping I sorted out the gluten free items and slapped a label on them. This makes it SO much easier when cooking (or munching) because I can quickly see if the product is gluten free or not.

I SORTED!
 I made a dedicated area in the pantry for my GF items and through the filled with evil wheat products on their own shelf. I'll have to admit that this is working sort of okay. My family is lazy and tends to throw things back in a general vicinity; they could care less if wheat products are near GF items. That being said, it makes the individual labeling that much more necessary - and appreciated.

MY FIRST MEAL!
 Okay, yeah, it's eggs... just what I had feared... but this bacon was naturally gluten free and I never pass up a chance to eat bacon. I once had a boyfriend show up at more door with a 2lb package of bacon. It meant more to me than flowers. Anyway, it was morning. So I had breakfast.


MY SECOND MEAL!
 Gluten Free Chili. Which is made exactly the way I have made it in the past. Honestly. There was no change to this whatsoever. I did find that I have to watch the labels... not all kidney beans are made equal. Some are made in a plant where there could be traces of wheat found in their products (mostly the cheaper beans). So, I just made sure I got the cans that said gluten free right on the label. Easy peasy.

Please also note this picture serves as double duty:  Can you spot the utensil I would never eat with?

If you answered the plastic handled spoon then you are correct! Mostly because I hate the feel of the metal portion of the spoon. It's too thin. I don't know how to explain it other than my nerves are exploding with sensory overload when I use that spoon. It took me about twelve minutes to find the proper spoon. And then I was able to fully enjoy my gluten free chili experience.

MY THIRD MEAL!
I made ranch chicken for dinner. Normally I would side it with egg noodles slathered in butter but since noodles are out I went for a gluten free brown rice which Big V likes. For me it's meh. The other change was the coating for the chicken. See, this is a lazy person's recipe: melt a stick of butter in the microwave. Stir in one packet of (dry) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. Dip the chicken in the ranch/butter concoction. Now, take a sleeve of Ritz crackers and crush them. Dredge the chicken through the crushed carackers and throw in a casserole dish. Bake at 350-degrees for 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!

But, no crackers meant no breading. Or so I thought! You know what works just as well? Smashed up Rice Chex Mix! Holla! Also, my family would tell you they preferred the Rice Chex because it was crispier than the Ritz crackers. Would you look at that? I just improved my baking skills!


The next awesome thing that happened? THIS HAPPENED! Pete Novak from Novak's Restaurant felt pity on me and brought me a Gluten Free Goody Basket filled with things to try. Seriously - I thought I won the lottery!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Gluten free products are expensive and not knowing what would taste decent felt like too much of a risk. (I'm not gonna lie; I've heard horror stories about GF breads.)

In my humble opinion:

The Udi's Chocolate Chip Cookies? Totally worth it. They won't replace the real thing, but it's a dang good replacement.

The Udi's Pizza Crust? I couldn't even tell the difference between that crust and Jack's frozen pizza. Also, I had made a homemade pizza which scored me some major points with the family. One pizza was just sauce and cheese for the boring kids in the family. The other pizza I made included pepperoni and pepper jack cheese. (It's all about the cheese, people!) I didn't tell my family the crust was gluten free until after they ate. They had no idea and told me to make them again. Holla, again!

The Udi's bread? Um. I can't lie. It's not the bread of my past. My glorious, fabulous, soft, gooey bread of my past. No, this is harder. Crumblier. Ickier. BUT -- the trick is to toast it. I've had a couple bacon sandwiches on toast and have been very pleased. I think I'll be okay. (To be fair, I only tried the bread plain with butter. It might be better with awesome sandwich meat and lettuce and tomatoes to distract my picky taste buds.)

I've gotten LOTS of advice and offer for help and my sweet, sweet neighbor dropped off a couple books which I have studied and xerox copied and need to return... and I appreciate every single bit of advice. Every recipe. Every word of encouragement. Every "don't worry; it'll take a while to get used to it."

I still haven't even attacked everyone who's offered to help me.... like Jessica over at Lunch at 11:30 - who I totally am planning on stealing all of Holly's awesome GF recipes from (it's a known fact Jessica is the diva of the relationship and totally makes Holly do everything... like cook and risk her life changing the dryer vent) ... but every time I go to say something to Jess she posts another positively soda snorting from your nose humorous blog and I get all sidetracked.

I know I have a lot to learn. The other day I found myself sitting at my desk facing the realization I hadn't brought a lunch and had no idea how to navigate the world of take out. I sat gnawing on a pencil hoping the roughage would fill me up. It did not.

Overall, though, I'd say this isn't the worst thing to have happen to me. Allowing my sister to cut my hair right before picture day when she was clearly not a licensed beautician was probably the worst thing. That and my decision to wear thick purple plastic framed glasses throughout my formative middle school years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adventures in Texting with the Teen: Wherein it is painfully obvious she is the product of my own doing.

THE TEEN BEAN:
You remember my super-super cute super old man bus driver right? He's retiring and today's his last day... I just got sad.  :(

ME:
What the hell?

TEEN:
What do you mean what the hell?! It's SAD!!! He's the cutest old man ever. He wears button up shirts and combs his hair over and has little glasses.

ME:
Is this the poor man that watches you every morning as you race down the front steps and run toward the bus stop after he's started driving away?

TEEN:
No. We have a girl for the morning who I HATE. He's only the afternoon driver. I wanna take a picture of him to show you. He's just the cutest thing!

TEEN:
Oh jesus.... Mary's walking her dog...

ME:
TAKE A PICTURE!!!!!

TEEN:
She's not to our house yet! I will when she gets in the yard.

ME:
Good. Do a surprise attack. Like karate drop-kick ninja stuff.

TEEN:
She took a turn and didn't come by our house. Probably because you yelled at her that one time.

ME:
I didn't "yell." I just told her she was the subject of an ongoing trespassing investigation.


Yes, I realize the poor child doesn't stand a chance with me as her mother. That being said, she likes old people. That's not necessarily an endearing quality she got from me, but one she possesses nonetheless. So, there is hope for her. Probably way more than for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Better to teach a man to fish than to watch him steal the little suckers.

Our mornings are hectic.

I expect most homes with school age children in it are hectic - some more than others. Ours is really bad. Mostly because I hate waking up and having to do things quickly. And also because I hate when people try to speak to me in the mornings before my ears are awake and ready to listen to them which doesn't happen until some where around 9:43am. So, basically, if it's before 9:43am and you're holding a conversation with me, know that I'm pretty much putting on an act and stifling my urge to tell you to shut up and leave me alone.

The one exception is my early morning phone calls to my sister on our respective drives to work. That's because she's my sister and can get away with saying things like sounds like someone needs about fourteen more hours of sleep and also I feel that I owe her because I pretty much made her mornings a hellacious experience throughout our childhood, what with the slamming doors and screaming in her face and the 45 minute showers that used up all the hot water.

Needless to say, mornings ain't my thing.

Throw in a bunch of kids that need to be at a specified area at a specified time to the mix and you're pretty much watching a really mean, violent, R-rated version of I love Lucy. Kids running this way and that; blankets being pulled from the comatose child; mismatched socks; lost school books and jackets hoping to be reclaimed.

The one exception is Dotter. Who - although she certainly does not possess a chipper morning personality - prepares the night before. This means her book bag is in its place. Her shoes are next to it. And her lunch is made.

Let's repeat that: her lunch is made.

Which made this morning's tantrum that much more enjoyable. See, Dotter doesn't like things to go off track. She doesn't like quick changes in direction and she certainly doesn't understand why others would want to purposely derail things off course.

In 2.2 seconds we went from gathering our stuff and getting out the door to screaming, tears, all out tantrum: the lunch was missing. Gone. Vanished.

Who the hell takes a kid's lunch? A lunch the kid herself made the night before? And not just steal the lunch bag on the counter with the dry items in it... we're talking the stuff in the fridge, too. All of it. Gone. Every sandwich baggie, granola bar and yogurt cup.

And if you said, "Well, I think Big V needed that lunch because he was running late this morning and obviously didn't have time to pack his own lunch so it just made sense to take Dotter's and not bother to give you a head's up about it and it's only fair that you'd end up being twenty minutes late searching for a missing lunch. scrambling to throw together another one and calming an extremely upset child" then you're right.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes the way my mind works scares even me.

Today I learned I am a freak of nature because I have issues with cookware. It was the fault of Starbucks, actually, because no one would have known this about me if their line hadn't been ridiculously long this morning and I hadn't subsequently posted a picture to my Facebook account mentioning said line.

Then a friend of mine was all can't you just make coffee at home? and I was all I'm after the chai tea, y'all! and she was all well, can't you make THAT at home? And I was all no, because:

  • then I'd have to purchase a tea kettle. Which I think are pretty gross because they end up getting lime deposits on the bottom in the inside and you can never really get them clean.
  • Or else I would have to use a pan to boil water in because I have issues with microwaving a cup of water (don't ask; I could never explain it other than "it smells funny").
  • Then I'd have to wash the spoon I stirred with - and wash up the counter because there would probably be water spots that dripped off my spoon.
  • And then I'd have to figure out a container to put the drink into... a travel mug, if you will, which I don't own because I have issues with the cleanliness of the lids, and I also have issues with where to put the lids after they're washed, because they never fit nicely on the shelf and I also don't like putting them in drawers where people's dirty hands could possibly touch them rummaging through for something else...
  • and, well, really, it's just SO much better for my anxiety disorder if I just went through the drive-thru at Starbucks.
And then I thought about how every time I take a glass out of the cupboard I rinse it out before putting any liquid in it. (But that's because I'm afraid there might be a pincher-bug in it.)

And that reminded me about how when I go to cook something I take the pan, or cookie sheet, or casserole dish out and clean it before I use it - even though it was cleaned before it was placed in the cupboard. (But that's because I'm afraid there might be one of those paper thin body skins laying in it that was molted off a creepy worm-bug.)

And that reminded me about how I always rinse a spoon before I mix anything with it, regardless of how shiny and sparkling clean it is. (But that's because you never know what bugs are crawling around your silverware at night.)

And that reminded me about how I can't stand the fact that there are thousands of germs on the counter top so I wash that sucker down roughly 672 times a day because, people sit on that thing. Like I'm going to make a sandwich on the same surface someone's butt cheeks were pressed just moments ago. I think not. And I don't care that it wasn't actual bare butt cheeks; denim is not a suitable barrier between butts and bread, that's all I'm saying. (Also, there's no way it would be physically or emotionally possible for me to lay a piece of bread on a countertop. I need a plate. I think that was painfully obvious before it was stated, wasn't it?)

However, my obvious germaphobia seems to be restricted to cookware as the bathroom garbage has been overflowing going on six days now and I can't remember the last time I mopped behind the toilet. Not to mention, there's a spider web growing to epic proportions in the far corner of the living room that from time to time I consider sweeping down, but that would require locating a broom. Also, I think subconsciously I feel safer providing a more natural habitat for creepy crawly bugs because if they had a place to go maybe they wouldn't be hanging out in my cupboards.

Makes sense to me.