Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gluten Free for those in Boston- Please pass this info on!

Here is the message being spread on Facebook, according to GIG of Indianapolis:

If you know of anyone in need of gluten free food who was injured at the Boston Marathon or who will be coming to be with those injured -- the Boston gluten free community is ready to help make sure people have safe food to eat in the wake of this tragedy, especially for out-of-towners who don't know where to get safe food. Please contact Ilana at <ilanasignups@GMAIL.COM>

Hope this helps someone!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Squirrel Food

This may be my last blog ever.  I may never get to blog again; my time on this earth may be up.  I may not make it through the next 24 hours because I am getting ready to tell the whole blogosphere that my Dad and MOM turn 60 this year!  I’m not so worried about Dad- he’s a guy.   However, Mother might be a different story.  So if I disappear, check with her first! 

Truthfully, I’m not that worried- I did already post this picture for the entire Facebook world to see. 
They look great, don’t they?  Mom and Dad have always lived by the mantra that they “don’t want to grow up, because grown-ups don’t have any fun!”  That thought, along with 6 ½ grandkids, has done wonders for them.  It was because of this “I refuse to grow up” mentality that led Fireman Sam and his Mrs. to come up with the great idea of taking them to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate the milestone.  We went this past weekend and had an absolute blast!  If you have never been, the main attraction is an indoor waterpark, but the decorations around the hotel are animatronics- woodland creatures that are lifelike and amazing. 

Part of our celebration this weekend included a pizza party with the cake shown in the picture above.  Things like pizza parties are hard for someone with the allergies that I have, but you have to figure out a way around it because, face it, when you have kids, pizza parties are inevitable.  I have recently discovered a company that has been an absolute lifesaver for times like these.  GoPicnic is a meal in a box, and they are pretty tasty!  
They have several different varieties, including some that are gluten free and even vegan (which work well for the dairy and egg-challenged, like me!)  My favorite and one that I had this weekend is the sunbutter and crackers meal.  I think that if I hadn’t been competing with pizza, I might have had a battle to keep my cookie and the fruit snacks from my nieces and nephews.  And I felt right at home in between the animatronic woodland creatures, eating my “Mountain Mambo Seed and Fruit Trail Mix”.  It was just perfect for a “squirrel” like me- as my dad would say!

I have found the GoPicnic varieties all over the place- Walgreens, Target, Meijer and even one gas station!  I think they would be great for traveling with kids, those with or without allergies.  There are several that are out of bounds for me (like salami and cheese, or tuna salad), but look really good.  Check them out!

Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad!  Fireman Sam, the Ranger and I love you very much.  We are all incredibly blessed to have such terrific role models as you and I think we have all decided to follow your mantra- after all, if you don’t grow up, then there is no possible way that we can, right?  So, we’ll race you back to Great Wolf Lodge!  I’ll bring the “squirrel” food!  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happiness in Greensburg

When I moved back to Greensburg, one of my concerns was the fact that I would be working.  But it’s not the job that was the concern, it was the lunch hour.  When I lived in Fishers, I had a very difficult time finding food, “fast” or otherwise, for myself.  I generally relied on Qdoba naked burritos, Steak’n’Shake chili and Puccini’s GF pizza.  I know you are shocked, but none of those places exist in Greensburg!  So, I was a little concerned that I would not be able to find food to eat without having to bring my lunch every day.
However, what I have found is that although the small town atmosphere doesn’t provide a lot of naturally GF/DF/EF food choices, the small town people will bend over backwards to make sure that I can find something to eat in their establishment.  I haven’t had a single person balk at checking ingredients when I ask them to do so.  If there is a way to make a dish Val-friendly, most places will offer to do it without fuss.  And if it is somewhere that I am unable to find actual food, I get the response, “Well, um, do you want a salad?”  At least they are trying!

There are two places in particular that have really gone above and beyond to make sure that I am well fed (or not thirsty, as the case may be!)  The first one is the MDL Coffee& Tea Co. on the north side of the square.  Mr. Layne, the owner, has been kind enough to carry soy milk so that I can have a latte- a REAL latte! - whenever I am inclined to do so.  Honestly, I feel bad because I don’t know if anyone else partakes of the soy and I don’t drink enough of it to warrant an entire container of milk.  But he has been exceedingly gracious about it and we have agreed that it is a good thing that soy milk has such a long shelf life!

The second place that has really come to my rescue is Mayasari Grill.  Mayasari Grill is an Indonesian restaurant owned and operated by my new friend Maya and her family.  Maya and her daughters have taken customer service to a whole new level.  When I explained my allergies to them the first time, I got a momentary blank look (the moment of “Oh my goodness, what the heck are we going to feed this girl!?!”) and then they set to work.  By the end of my first visit there, Maya had given me a full 3 course meal- complete with soup, a delicious entrĂ©e and a dessert that she whipped up out of thin air.   I left fully stuffed and feeling a little better about my food prospects in Decatur County!

Team Stephen Legal and the Ever-Amazing Maya!
(Yes, there is a tiara on my head.  You will just have to guess why!)

But Maya didn’t stop there.  She has very authentic restaurant and gets several ingredients from Indonesia.  Because she was unsure of the ingredients in some of the items she imports, she actually sent them up to Purdue to be tested.  So, you can be sure when you go to Mayasari’s that the soya (how she pronounces it!) sauce or anything made with it is gluten free- certified by Purdue University! 

A To-Go order of the best Indonesian Fried Rice ever!

So, if you ever come to Greensburg, visit Maya at Mayasari’s and tell her that I sent you!  Make sure that she knows your allergies and you will be treated well.  If she doesn’t have anything for you on the menu, you can be sure that she will figure something out- and you will EAT!  And if you aren’t sure about Indonesian food, check out her hamburger or the BLT on homemade bread.  Then, head around the corner to MDL for some coffee- an actual latte or cappuccino made just for you.  You won’t be disappointed by either place.  And chances are I’ll see you there!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

What a Weekend!

A few months ago, my father-in-law (who will now be known as “Fil”) came home with this idea that he wanted to have a food booth at something called Canal Days in Metamora.  If you have never been to Canal Days, I can tell you that it is quite the experience.  It is probably an acre of flea market-type booths interspersed with food booths of every kind- most definitely a people-watching mecca!  Well, Fil’s friend has this giant bean pot (like, take-a-bath-in-it giant!) and he is famous (in his head, at least) for his bean-making prowess.  When Fil lived in Texas, he learned to cook brisket the only way it should be cooked- Texas-style.  So, the two of them decided to join forces and be united under the banner “Grumpy Old Guys Beans N’ Brisket.”  However, what started out as just beans and brisket soon grew to include beans, brisket, smoked turkey legs, hot dogs, corn bread, brownie, chips and drinks.  The staff of Fil and Friend soon grew to include their respective wives, me and my hubby Chris, and my brother, the Ranger, and his wife, Mrs. Ranger.  Before long we had shirts and hats that matched and looked like a professional crew.

One day not too long ago, as we were getting ready for this event, Fil and I were talking about the food we were planning.  To my surprise and delight, he wanted to make sure that he had gluten-free food to serve to the masses.  So, we checked ingredients in rubs, we worked on GF cornbread recipes and we did taste tests to determine the best GF brownie we could find.  We weren't sure how much of the GF baked goods we would sell, but that didn't seem to matter to him.  What mattered was that as many people as possible would be able to enjoy his food, baked goods and all. 

I wasn't able to join in the fun until about half way through the first day.  When I arrived, I asked Chris if he had sold any GF goods.  He laughed and said that we had sold one GF brownie.  But not to someone who “needed” GF food, but someone who just thought GF tasted better.  What?!?  That’s when I knew the crazies were out in full force!  But, as the day went on, we did have several people come up and question us about our GF foods.  I was proud and excited to be able to tell them that it was truly GF, and that we had taken the utmost precautions to ensure that there was no cross-contamination.  The looks on the faces of people who came to Canal Days not expecting to find anything to eat, the shock and astonishment that radiated from them when they found something that they felt was “safe,” was worth all the time and effort I had put into this venture.  I even shared my GF buns with one lady who said that she couldn't remember the last time she had been able to enjoy a sandwich at a Fair like that.  It was an amazing feeling. 

My favorite moment of the entire weekend was when a young lady turned the corner and whooped so loud I almost dropped my bowl of beans!  She came up to the booth with a look of astonishment and shiny eyes and said, “What do you have that’s Gluten Free???”  We were toward the end of the day so we didn't have much, but we had one brownie left.  She snatched that brownie up before I even got the words completely out of my mouth.  She had two boys under the age of 10 that hadn't been able to find anything all day.  She said, “Oh, thank you so much!  You have NO idea how hard it is at a place like this!”  I responded that yes, indeed I DID have an idea of how hard it was in a place like that!  We chatted for a few minutes more and she moved on and probably forgot me, but I didn't forget her.

I am so thankful to Fil for thinking of the GF community when planning his booth.  It was so gratifying to me to hear the concern in his voice when he described the utter lack of food available to people such as myself.  The man has a heart of gold sometimes, and it was shining brightly that day.  And even last night, when we were discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of the weekend, he mentioned that he wanted to expand the GF foods available next year.

So, if you are in Metamora during Canal Days next year, come see me at the Grumpy Old Guys Beans N’ Brisket booth.  We will have something for you, and maybe, if you are lucky, our little mascot will be there.  Check out the poster below.  I think his darling face sold more turkey legs than all the "Grumpy Guys" combined!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Movin' to the Country...

I’m back!  And wow have things changed since we last talked!  As in, have-to-change-my-description-of-myself-on-the-side changes.  I no longer live in Fishers.  I no longer stay at home with my youngest.  I no longer volunteer at the church.  I no longer have time to bake cakes. Oh, and we got a new dog.  Well, technically we didn't have to go anywhere to get him; he arrived in my upstairs bathroom along with his 7 siblings one fabulous morning in December.  Very soon after that, his mother arrived in the vet’s office and left very, very cranky with us.  But that’s another story entirely- back to my changing life! 

My husband has talked about opening his own law firm for years.  He has asked for books about being a solo- practitioner for Christmas multiple years in a row- if he gives up a Christmas present for it, it’s a sure sign that he is serious.  However, it all seemed very much like a pipe dream where we were- after all, you can hardly swing a stick without hitting an attorney in Fishers.  Then one day, he gets a call from the Mayor of a small city in southern Indiana, Greensburg.  Now, it just so happens that we are from this same small town of Greensburg and the majority of our family still lives there.  Long story short, Chris was enticed to throw his name into a hat for the contract to be City Attorney and in the end, he was the one they chose to hire. 

Once we got the call that Chris had the city attorney gig, we had some quick decisions to make.  Do we stay in our house and have Chris commute the hour each way every day?  Or do we move down right now and try to get settled before school started in the fall?  We had about 2 days to figure out what we needed to do and we chose to move.  We made the decision, went on an already scheduled week-long camping trip, and then moved a week later!  

So, that’s the past several months in a nutshell.  Which means this blog will be evolving to something a little different than it has been in the past.  You will now get to hear all about my adventures of trying to live a life without wheat, dairy or eggs in a city that thinks soy is only the bean that grows in the field on the off years to replenish the soil for the corn.  It’s been interesting, but it’s been fun.  Man, it's to be home!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

♪♫ Isn't It Ironic? Don't You Think? ♪♫

Here lately, my life has been playing out like a tame verison of that obnoxious Alanis Morissette song.  No one has won the lottery and kicked the bucket or anything, but there have been some little things that just make a person wonder.  For instance, I finally decided to get an iPhone.  It took me 2 months to actually decide that it was worth spending the money to do it.  After all, my Samsung Continuum was fine- it just wasn't an iPod.  And it had a case that drove me crazy because it hid some of the cooler features.  And I couldn't watch Netflix on it.  Really, it was the last thing that finally convinced me to get the iPhone.  After all, baseball season is coming, as is spring football season.  I'm going to be spending a lot of time out on one sports field or another, and I relied heavily on Netflix on my phone last year to entertain the youngest (Mommy of the year, right here!)  So, I finally made the decision that I would purchase the iPhone on Monday.  Guess what came down the pipe on Sunday afternoon?  You guessed it!  Netflix on my Samsung.  By that time though, I had already talked myself into the new phone.  So, I go get the phone on Monday morning, and afterwards I drive to Meijer to pick up a few things.  Guess what I find in the clearance section?  A phone case for the Samsung that is 90% off, and addresses all the issues I had with my case.  Isn't it ironic?  Don’t you think?

Up until the irony of my iPhone/Samsung fiasco, the most ironic thing that had happened to me lately was my pasta makers.  Yes, you will note that I said "makers", plural.  I have been asking for a pasta maker for Christmas for multiple years now.  I didn't care if it was a hand crank one or the kind that attaches to the Kitchenaid.  I just wanted a pasta maker.  I finally gave up asking my parents (too many other items on the list), and only put it on my in-law's list for nostalgia's sake.  When we opened presents, I was ecstatic to find a manual pasta maker in my loot from the in-laws. Then, when I opened presents from my parents, I was doubly ecstatic to find the Kitchenaid version in my loot from them.  Seriously, the year I give up I get not one, but two of the darn things?  Um, I have also given up on that cherry red Mustang convertible.  Honestly!

As crazy as it may seem, it was a blessing to get both.  The gluten free pasta that I make takes a few times through the machine before it comes together enough to truly be workable.  The Kitchenaid machine is wonderful in that respect, because you can change the speed of how fast it rolls and you can use both hands to feed the pasta through as the machine pulls it through mechanically.  However, the Kitchenaid only makes long flat pieces (great for ravioli, but not so much for noodles if you want them consistent.)  The hand-crank machine came with two different sized cutters, so I can make evenly cut noodles in a flash.  Also, I can use the flat section on the hand-crank for the gluten-full pasta I make for the family to help offset any possibility of cross-contamination.  Both machines get an equal workout.

I am so thankful that I finally got the pasta makers.  I make pasta all the time now!  In fact, my mom even financed my 25 lb. order of Better Batter flour in exchange for keeping her in bread and pasta.  The recipe I use works well fresh or frozen, and cooks up in a jiffy.  Eating pasta and bread makes me feel almost normal!
Mmmmm...  Pasta! 
The final piece to this crazy story of irony is that a few weeks ago I was in Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Once again I was in the clearance section, (see a pattern?) and what did I come across, but a pasta maker.  A pasta maker.  A PASTA MAKER.  A little tooooo ironic.  Yeah, I really do think….

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am Loved...

I am loved.  I am so loved.  I am so, so loved!  You know how I know I’m loved?  Because my Aunt Shirley made me fudge.  And my friend from church made me peanut brittle.  And my other friend from church is trying to arrange a dinner party menu to suit my needs (even though I told him he shouldn’t and I absolutely mean that if you are reading this!)  And I had some yummy salsa, gluten free crackers and shrimp cocktail at a Christmas party.  And I had an entire meal at my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner that I could eat.  And I had a ridiculous meal on New Year’s Eve that I could eat.  But mostly, because my Aunt Shirley made me fudge!

If you don’t know Aunt Shirley, then you don’t understand how amazing that is.  Each year on Christmas Eve, my dad’s side of the family gets together at my parent’s house.  It’s the one time of the year that I get to see the majority of my cousins, and we have a good time.  My aunt is an amazing cook, and is known in our circle especially for her candies.  Each year she would bring a plate of peanut butter fudge- you know, the kind of fudge that you dream about.  Lots of people make fudge, but no one makes fudge like Aunt Shirley.   And each year, Fireman Sam, The Ranger and I would fight over the leftovers.  So much so that Aunt Shirley began making each of us our own little container of it.  Sometimes it came in a disposable Tupperware container; sometimes it came in a tin-foil pan.  And sometimes we stole each other’s containers, hoarding more for ourselves. 

Aunt Shirley’s fudge was one of the things that I was whining about in my last post.  Fudge is full of all kinds of goodies that are NOT Val-friendly.  I didn’t think I’d ever get my own container again.  Then, I walked in on Christmas Eve.  Aunt Shirley was there- and she had THIS for me:

I was shocked!  I was amazed!  I was thrilled!  I was… confused.  What was she giving me?  Was I getting my hopes up, only to have them dashed when I had to hand my share of the fudge over to The Ranger?  Then I opened it and Aunt Shirley explained.  She has been reading this blog (Hi Aunt Shirley!) and checked out this fudge recipe on Gluten Free On a Shoestring’s website.  It took her two trips to town to do it, but she found the ingredients and she made me fudge.  No diary, no gluten, no eggs.  Just love.  Oh, and chocolate and peanut butter!

So, is it truly Aunt Shirley’s fudge?  Not the original recipe, no.  But it was a container of fudge from my Aunt who loves me, and that’s all I needed.  I have talked about this before- it’s not the fact that she gave me fudge; it’s the fact that she cared enough to try to give me fudge.  It’s not easy to feed me, so when someone attempts to do so, I know they care.  So the peanut brittle, the salsa, the meal planning, the Christmas eve and New Year’s meals?  They are all big, warm fuzzy hugs to me.  Mmmm, big, peanut-buttery, chocolatey hugs....  I am so, so, so loved.