Burnt Toast

Burnt Toast with Smoke and Motion Blur Popping from Toaster

Burnt Toast with Smoke and Motion Blur Popping from Toaster

One random night at dinner my son said something about how I only eat burnt toast.  One comment opened up a floodgate and everyone piled on….”OMG, I have totally noticed that mom always burns her toast,” “So funny, her toast is like charcoal with melted butter,” and so on.  There is a reason I prefer my toast well done and it is so obvious to someone who has been on a gluten-free diet as long as I have.

Back in the stone-age era of gluten-free food, bread was made of, only joking of course, but I swear it seemed like bread was made with asbestos.  I could set the toaster to the “en fuego” setting and the bread would not even turn a shade of golden brown or even a slightly beige tinge.  I could toast it for three days, and while it might have the consistency of a brick, it would still be a pale white color.

It drove me crazy and I used to jack up the toaster setting and then repeat the cycle three or four times just to get a little color.  I like the toasted flavor, and if I were honest about it, I actually like the burnt flavor.  Maybe I liked the burnt edges because it was damn near impossible to achieve and maybe because yesteryear’s gluten-free bread was so horrible tasting.

Flash forward to today and gluten-free bread tastes really good and achieves some color if you set it to medium dark and run the bread through one toasting cycle…but I still sometimes run it through twice or set the color to “dark” and let it rip.   Now I have a reputation and something that my kids will laugh about long after I’m gone…”Remember how mom always ate burnt toast?  She was such a lovable weirdo…”

Kendall Egan

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Gluten-Free Fried Feast

Summer is waning, the “snap” of the season has begun in earnest.  I open up the windows in the morning for warm air and shut them at night to keep out the chill. Sweatshirts and Ugg’s are reappearing from the back of the closet and football season is in full swing…the good, the bad and the ugly this season!

Today I am reminiscing about the gluten-free fried clams I had this past August in Cape Cod.  It had been 19 years since I tasted fried clams and I couldn’t believe my good fortune of finding Marathon Seafood since we vacation in Dennis!  All of their batter was gluten-free and so was their clam chowder.

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It had been so long that I could not recall if I preferred the clam strips or whole clam bellies, so I ordered the fried clam bellies.  And I ordered onion rings.  My son ordered the fish and chips.

I should have taken an “after” picture because we ate every single bite of both baskets. For 15 years we watched others eat their fried goodies at this one particular restaurant that my wheat-eating family members loved. The celiacs resented eating at this place since our menu choices were limited to two options, one of them being ice cream.  This was the year I had planned to skip it and my son piped up that he was done with bunless burgers and ice cream for dinner too.

So finding Marathon Seafood was perfect.  Going forward, if this place thrives and continues to be GF,  I will have a special night out with my son for a platter of onion rings and whatever battered sea food sounds good in the moment.

Kendall Egan

Gluten-Free French Bread Pizza

Remember those pre-celiac diagnosis Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas?  It was such an easy supper, but the truth is that a French Bread Pizza is easy to make with fresh bread and a few key ingredients…GF or otherwise.

I sliced an Udi’s Baguette and topped it with marinara.  Fresh basil and some kalmata olives from the farmer’s market were my key ingredients for making this a personalized pizza.  The rest of the toppings included sweet tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and some pepperoni, nothing crazy or too out of the ordinary!  Check out how gooey and delicious my gluten-free french bread pizza looked straight from the oven…it was sooooo good.

Kendall Egan

 

 

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Gluten-Free Cinnamon Snacking

I buy most of the sugary snacks for my son because I just don’t need the extra calories. But, Glutino Cinnamon & Sugar Bagel Chips are just for me.

Sweets with cinnamon are my weakness.  I cannot resist cinnamon buns or cinnamon and sugar toast.  I prefer cinnamon gum and I used to buy cinnamon Lifesavers, but they are impossible to find these days.  I like apple and cinnomon waffles, spicy oatmeal cookies and pumpkin pie because of the spices.  There are a few savory Lebanese dishes from my childhood that used cinnamon and my crazy Uncle George was quoted as saying everything is better with cinnamon.

Glutino Cinnamon & Sugar Bagel Chips

I ate the entire box in two sittings…so I cannot buy these every time I shop because I clearly cannot eat just one!

Kendall

The Celiac Goes to Basketball Camp

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He should be arriving right about now.  Lunch is served in the cafeteria of the university hosting camp.  The celiac is a rising sophomore who got a spot on for the varsity basketball team summer camp.

This is a new phase of managing the diet for me.  I really don’t want to manage his diet anymore because in three short years he will be a rising college freshman somewhere who has to fend for himself entirely.  On the flip side, I would help him through the initial phase of learning the dining halls of whatever university he attends and so I helped out a little bit here.

On Monday I left a message for the director of dining and on Tuesday morning she called me back.  Here is the good news, they know all about celiac disease and gluten intolerance.  She chuckled as she asked if my son is likely to hit the salad bar, knowing full well that a perenially hungry basketball player needs more sustenance.

She informed me that they had gluten-free bread and gluten-free pasta in the cafeteria. Typically for camps they do not make gluten-free pasta if they are offering a pasta bar, but he could ask for it.  The same goes for bread at the grill for burgers and chicken.

She also gave me the option to have specially prepared meals, such as a chicken breast, a baked potato and a sauteed vegetable, waiting for him at meal time and he would just have to ask for it from any of the kitchen staff.  My son declined that option and I think that is the right decision.  In the real world you aren’t going to have every meal specially prepared and waiting for you.

It might be a weekend of omlettes and bunless burgers for him if he chooses.  He might have pasta, if he decides to ask for it.  The bottom line is that he has options and the ball is in his court for the next three days.  Of course, he also has a stash of 30 protein bars in his bag and if he wants to live on those, that is okay too.

Kendall Egan

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Coconut Cake for Mother’s Day

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I have been craving a coconut cake since I ripped out a recipe for an angle flake coconut cake from a magazine right before Easter.  I had planned to make a cupcake version to bring for dessert to our family party, but arrived home from vacation late the night before and just wasn’t feeling it!

Since I had already purchased all of the ingredients, my daughter decided to bake it yesterday as a Mother’s Day dessert.  Half of the family doesn’t like coconut so while the cake had coconut pudding mix and a bit of coconut flakes in the batter, half the cake had plain vanilla icing.

We have had some spectacular cake flops on my celebrations.  There was the time that this same daughter some how launched one layer of the cake off the plate and onto the floor.  Someone else has tripped and splatted a store bought cake on the floor…but we managed to enjoy our half coconut and half vanilla cake without any part of the cake falling on to the floor!

I worked out this morning extra hard and for a bit longer than usual so I could enjoy another piece today without guilt!

Kendall Egan

The Verboten Crouton

Here is a real world dilemma for a celiac.  I know it is real because it happened to me last week!

One of my absolute favorite lunches is a chopped salad.  Several restaurants have chopped salad bars near me and, while the toppings amp up the calorie count, I love them.  It is great to climb out from my work cave and seek a healthy lunch with company.

salad ingredients

Last week I chose the leafy greens, garbanzo beans, beets, tomatoes and tofu for my chopped salad.  I watched all of these gluten-free ingredients go into the bowl and observed the “chef” with the mezzaluna chopping everything up to create a finely mixed salad.  The salad guy tossed it with a balsamic dressing and put it into my container.  As far as my watchful eye could see, I had a gluten-free lunch!

salad mezzaluna

I was thoroughly enjoying my lunch and conversation with my lunch buddy when I crunched down on something that had no business being in a gluten-free salad…a crouton.  I could tell immediately what it was and was so incredibly bummed.

salad crouton

What would you have done with a mouthful of crouton?  I should have spit it out into my napkin.  I was eating lunch with a friend, a really old, “knew-me-when” friend who watched me suffer difficult pregnancies and waste away during my sickest point…she would have understood.  It wasn’t a job interview and it wasn’t someone I was trying to impress.  I should have spit it out.

But I did not spit it out, I ate it.  In that “blink” decision, I calculated that I had probably already eaten the other half of the crouton or at least most of it since it was all chopped up in my salad.   I regretted it.  My intestinal track gurgled all afternoon and into the evening.

I consider myself fortunate that I do not get violently ill with accidental gluten, but I still did not feel well and that crouton damaged my intestine.   It just knocks you back a little bit when you are careful and watchful over food that is made outside of your control and it is not enough oversight.  All I can think of is that there was a crouton in my portion of mixed greens that I did not see as it was placed into the mixing bowl.

Would I have felt better if I had spit it out? Who knows how much gluten I had already eaten by the time I crunched down on the crouton.  Next time, I will make sure the greens are free from croutons prior to selecting other ingredients.  And if I ever crunch down on a verboten crouton again, I will spit out the mouthful into my napkin!

Kendall Egan