Lobster Roll “sans” Roll

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For as far back as I can remember, we spend at least one of our vacation weeks in Dennis, MA and for years we have had one or two meals during vacation week at the Sesuit Harbor Cafe.  The cafe was honored this year as a “Best of Cape” winner which was deserved but made the lines for food a wee bit longer.

Each year I stared in envy at the lobster rolls consumed by other members of my family.  No pity party, I typically ordered a lobster plate or some grilled fish…but I really wanted the lobster roll.  I don’t get a kick out of cracking the shell and doing all the work and I get royally skeeved by the tamale if that intestinal gook is in great abundance.

I had considered ordering the lobster roll and just eating it out of the bun, but that is like taking the cheese off a regular slice of pizza (guilty).  It really isn’t the type of behavior I want to model to my celiac son. Plus, ordering a roll-less lobster roll is just weird, it is not the same thing as a bun-less burger.

We went for dinner on our second night of vacation and I had a delicious grilled sea bass.  The way if works is that you stand in line, order your food and then hover over the tables in the picnic area with your cooler until a table clears.  It is a BYOB, so people come in with all sorts of good beverages.  The really smart people bring bug spray and candles too because this is “au naturel” eating and the bugs get fierce and the sun sets!  Many of the picnic tables are what I would call “communal” so if you are open to it, there is fun conversation and a great opportunity to check out what other people are eating.

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Three young women who were gabbing away about their triathlon training were next to us which was great because I felt myself sitting up straighter and sucking in my stomach.   When they had their dishes delivered by the waitress, one of them had a garden salad with a gi-normous portion of lobster salad heaped on top.

I leaned over and asked if she had made a special request or if that was on the menu.  It was on the menu!  I had missed it all of these years because why would I be looking at the salads when all I really wanted was a lobster roll?

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I turned to my family and said that we were coming back for dinner, not breakfast, because I really, really wanted that salad.  And sure enough, on our last night of vacation, we headed back to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe where I ordered my garden salad topped with lobster and a side order of potato salad.  That seems like a lot, but their potato salad is the best!

I am not exaggerating when I say there were at least three lobster claws….maybe even more because we stupidly forgot our candles…and the lobster was at peak sweetness.  I was in heaven.  Can’t wait to order the same thing year after year after year on future Cape Cod visits!  A perfect gluten-free end to a perfect week.

Kendall Egan

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Two days ago I whipped up a batch of cookies that my family happens to adore.  They are my gluten-free version of oatmeal butterscotch cookies.  I had my King Arthur Flour Cookie mix, my certified gluten-free Glutenfreeda oatmeal and Nestle butterscotch morsels.  I thought I was good to go since I had made these before.

As everything was mixing I happened to read the label on the butterscotch morsels and there it was, play as day, right in front of my eyes…barley protein…listed right there in the ingredients.  Barley protein is not gluten-free. 

I went to the web to check it out and apparently I should have been buying the Hershey butterscotch morsels…at least according to the posters on various blogs.

The point is that even after careful adherence to a gluten-free diet for the past seventeen years, it was foolish of me not to read the label on something I just assumed to be safe.  It is actually a cringe-worthy mistake because I know I have made many, many batches of these cookies.

Lesson learned…even when you think all that could possibly be in something is sugar…you have got to read the label.  The rest of my family very much enjoyed these cookies, I did not!

Kendall Egan

FINALLY…an FDA definition of “gluten free”

First off, big thanks to Amy Ratner, the editor of Gluten-Free Living magazine for following this FDA decision for five or six years and reporting on the slow pace of progress to get to this moment.  Here is her blog about the decision: http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/2013/08/02/gluten-free-labeling-rules-finally-approved/

What does this mean to me?  I am excited because a lot of food will now be labeled.  Vendors with a gluten-free product might not have labeled it as such because there was no definition of gluten free.  Now they have a definitive basis to test the product in order to decide that the product is or is not gluten-free based upon a real definition.

I am so glad the FDA stuck to the 20 ppm since that seems to be the acceptable definition elsewhere.  Glad there was time for public comment and sane discussion.

The really good news is that this decision is finally DONE for those of us who have celiac disease and while incredibly delayed in coming, this is the culmination of a lot of effort from people who really, really just want food choices that are safe.

Wonder if it will take this long to get GMO labeling done….

Kendall Egan

 

 

New Gluten-Free Publishing

First I opened up my Costco Connection and inside is a well written article, “Gluten free: Necessity or Choice?”

costco

The author was spot on that a gluten-free diet is not a weight loss diet.  If people are forgoing bread, pasta and processed foods they might lose a few pounds.  If you replace those carbs with gluten-free carbs, those GF carbs still have calories.

Costco has been wonderful about stocking foods that are gluten-free and say so right on the label.  Finding a gluten-free vege burger in bulk was my favorite purchase to date.  I rebagged them and frozen them individually so they are always available to cook.

Same day, a few hours later, I picked up Living Gluten-Free at Fairway as I shopped for food.

fairway

This is “issue 1” so maybe there are more to come, but the headline says it will tell me everything I need to know!  Sadly, they reiterated the myth that salad dressings and marinades made with grain distilled vinegar contain gluten.  Nope, only malt vinegar is a worry and it is clearly indicated as malt vinegar and not widely used in salad dressings. Almost perfect!

There are some lovely recipes in this issue and a ton of advertising. Fairway has the best selection of gluten-free products available, along with very cool products from all over the world and incredible selections in the produce aisles, dairy and cheeses, fishmonger and butcher.

I love all of the attention on the gluten-free diet…makes my life so much easier!

Kendall Egan

 

 

 

Grocery Shopping-Part Two

While on a “sprint shop” through the grocery store, this new gluten-free Ronzoni box caught my eye on the store shelves.

Ronzoni

Ronzoni’s regular pasta is in a blue box, so this yellow really differentiated the gluten-free version.  Other food purveyor’s have done this, for example Belle and Evans has blue and black boxes differentiating the gluten-free from the regular variety.

What struck me about the Ronzoni is that it was on the shelf with all of the wheat pasta and not on the “free-from” shelf that is a stand alone section of the grocery store.  Chex Cereal and GF Bisquick are also with the regular mixes and cereals as far as I can see in my area grocery stores.

I am not sure who has the advantage…do the brands in the gluten-free section have the advantage?  I know where the location of the gluten-free section, or the dedicated “free-from” shelf space, is in all of my stores and I frequent these sections with great regularity to stock up.

Or, do the brands sitting at eye level in the regular grocery aisles have the advantage?  If I want the DeLallo Orzo or the Le Veneziane Farfalle, I know where to find it.  But, because that yellow box just happened to be on the store shelf I was walking down for canned tomatoes, it caught my eye and I bought it.

All in all, it is great to see new products on shelves wherever they may be in the grocery store.  I just want it to be easy to find them!

Kendall Egan

Hard to Get GF Foods

There are a few succulent, mouth watering dishes, usually deep fried and battered, which are next to impossible to get in a restaurant on a gluten-free diet.  Onion rings, tempura and fish & chips are some of my favorite examples.  When I saw eggplant at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday, my brain went right to Eggplant Parmesan which is another one of those dishes that is hard to get gluten-free anywhere else but your own kitchen.

After I saw them, I had to have eggplant parm.  I went totally “Giada” and made everything from scratch, using some of the ripe tomatoes and herbs from my miniscule four planted pot garden!

First step was cutting and salting the eggplant to get out the extra moisture.  My mother used to tell me this was to drain the eggplant of some chemical that made your mouth itch…no clue if that is true or not.

My gluten-free bread crumbs worked beautifully.  I buy them from an Italian deli because they are “house made” gluten-free bread crumbs and are really better than anything else I have used.  But, any gluten-free bread crumb mixed with enough Parmesan cheese is going to form a savory crust.

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The battered eggplant rounds are then fried up in a pan with hot oil.

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I like to drain excess oil on paper towels.

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Next up was preparing my extremely fragrant tomato sauce…we love garlic in this household.  I am so relieved that garlic is gluten-free because that would have constituted a real hardship if I had to give it up.

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And the finished product ready for eating!

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Ironically, the celiac refused to eat it and had a bowl of cereal.  My two pickiest eaters both tried it and my daughter had a second helping.  I am so excited because there is enough leftover for me to have it for lunch today.

No one needs deep fried foods on a regular basis, but it is so worth it when you prepare fried and battered foods as a treat.  Yum.

Kendall Egan

 

Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping

I ran to the grocery store yesterday for enough provisions to get me through the weekend, just enough for two dinners, a couple of lunches and Monday morning breakfast.  With four big kids, my usual trips to the grocery store are counted a workout since the cart is so heavy.

It dawned on me at the checkout counter how easy grocery shopping had become.  Back in the day, I had to order gluten-free food in bulk and store it. Or I went to the one grocery store that carried gluten-free food and my freezer would be stuffed to the gills with gluten-free food and not much else.

Now, I can go to one store and pick up my week’s provisions for both the gluten-free and the regular diets in one fell swoop.  Into the cart go Udi’s hot dog buns, right next to the potato flour hot dog buns that my daughter likes.  Four loaves of bread tossed in, two contain wheat and two do not.  And, since I saw the new Pillsbury Gluten-Free Dough at this store, I threw it into the cart along with regular pizza dough…we will grill up some pizza later on this week!

My freezer actually has room for frozen berries and ice cream now, something that we never used to have on hand. Not that we really need ice cream in the freezer all the time, but it is nice to have a frozen dessert in the summertime.

As awareness for special diets continue, I hope the “free-from” shelves at the grocery store continue to be stocked with gluten-free alternatives.  It makes life on a gluten-free diet so much easier.

Kendall Egan

Make Room for Dessert!

We had a family dinner last week at Sam’s of Gedney Way in White Plains prior to my daughter’s departure for a semester in Australia.  This is a lovely restaurant with a gluten free menu and it did not disappoint.

At the end of the meal we were all pretty stuffed, but took a little look-see at the dessert menu anyway.  Right on the menu was a “Nutella-Gluten Free” option which was a “coconut walnut macaroon cake layered with nutella mousse and chocolate caramel glaze.” Whoa…it is not every day that gluten-free cake is a dessert option in a restaurant.  Typically the only gluten-free offerings are ice cream, sorbet and whatever custard that works with the style of restaurant….flan, creme brulee or panna cotta.

So even though my celiac had minutes before professed that he could not eat another bite, he said he could find room for this creation!

GF cake #2

This photo does not do it justice, but there were six forks attempting to dig in for a little taste. The cake was a wonderful mix of flavors and textures and the celiacs implored the group to order their own desserts.

I am not sure the other four people in my family appreciated the novelty of ordering cake for dessert in a restaurant but my son enjoyed every bite.

Kendall Egan