Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Summer's End

Well, I made it through my first summer gluten free.  Also, blog free.  My intention, of course, was to blog more frequently but with all the summer goings on, it didn't happen since I'm not yet back in the habit of getting on here and getting it done.

Over the summer I started to do a little baking so I'm building my confidence with that.  It's been nothing complicated and a lot of it has started with a mix or pre blended flour but it's a start. Can I tell you I have 5 boxes of gluten free Bisquick in my house right now?  I'm kinda hoarding it because it helps me. This is not my preferred method of baking AT ALL but it fulfills my need to whip up some pancakes that taste like pancakes, especially when you use buttermilk in the recipe.  Currently, as I type this, I have the gluten free Bisquick coffee cake recipe in the oven with a bazillion tweaks that I mixed and matched off of the recipe reviews. We'll see what happens with that.  Some of the other things I've played with this summer are:

-The first thing I made with the gluten free Bisquick was their garlic cheddar biscuits. They turned out so nicely. A little tiny bit gritty but there was so much flavor otherwise, it was easy to overlook the small flaw in the texture. 

 -I bought Pamela's Bread Mix and made a loaf of bread. It turned out pretty decently. I think it needs something though...can't quite put my finger on what bothered me about it after eating a couple slices of it.  I love Pamela's website. The recipes are broken down by flour blend/mix and you can make a lot of things with each type they make. I'm looking forward to playing with this blend/mix more. 
-I love King Arthur's brownie mix.  A lot.  Enough said.

-I made a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix.  It was very dry.  It was flavorless...even though it was a yellow cake mix and you still had to add your own vanilla to it.  I use Nielsen Massey vanilla so it's real vanilla and it's good quality and I always splash a bit extra over the measuring spoon and it still had no flavor. (That's a lot of and's)

-I made biscuits using the Bakewell Cream biscuit recipe with Trader Joe's all-purpose gluten free flour. This definitely needs some work but it was edible. As I'm learning, gluten free baked goods tend to be very dry. Lots of oil and eggs seem to be used to help counter this. I'd like to play more with this because I love the Bakewell Cream recipe for biscuits.

-I did also make a recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring website at the beginning of the summer and had posted it here. I took it off when I noticed the font was screwed up.  I never got back to fixing it, I was having a lot of difficulty with it and was aggravated with the thought of doing it completely over. It was for a copycat of Against the Grain rolls.  They were pretty good and I've made them again since.  I will probably make them again. The only thing I don't like is the amount of fat in them but you can't have it all, right?!?

I managed to not gluten myself too much this summer. I did get sick a few times and I'm pretty sure I figured out the culprits each time. It's a hard thing because gluten hides in the trickiest of places. Restaurants are well meaning having gluten free items on their menus yet do not fully understand the major impact cross contamination can have on someone who has celiac disease.  Different varieties of the same food can have different gluten statuses. Do you know how confusing Milky Ways are?  Don't eat the original, but the the caramel and dark are okay. I can't figure out why but I sure learned there is a difference after I did some more thorough research AFTER eating the original. I thought I had it right BEFORE but it never hurts to double check again before you eat.  Lesson learned. 

I had an endoscopy in August to follow up the blood work which showed the antigens that indicated I have celiac. Seems at one time an endoscopy was the "gold standard" for celiac diagnosis but from what I've been reading, more doctors are not leaning towards that school of thought as much anymore.  My doctor was going back and forth on whether or not to do one, we did already have it scheduled before the blood results came in so she said we might as well go ahead. She was able to see "blunting" of the villi during the scope, indicating celiac damage.  She also found minor esophagitis. This was a surprise to me as I've never had a problem with heartburn. The biopsies she took did come back showing celiac so I guess that I am totally and completely official. Gold standard and all. 

I successfully went on vacation. We had planned this trip prior to my diagnosis and to be honest with you, had I known I was going to have this, I probably would not have planned to go. I was so worried I would not find anything I could eat for a reasonable price. I'm super picky too, on top of everything. A lot of challenges. I brought tons of gluten free bars with me and had a few on me at all times but only found a few instances in which I had to use them instead of a meal. I ate a lot of baked potatoes at Wendy's during the week for quick lunches and I will forever be grateful that there was a Wendy's about a mile each way out of our hotel so no matter which direction we headed out, we were not far from one. (We went to Vegas and stayed on the strip) I found a lot of the staff were super helpful at the places that were not Wendy's.  I don't think I got sick.  I know, how could I not know.  Well, there is a thing called TMI so I will keep it to myself but what did happen, I don't think could really be attributed to what I ate since it was early in the trip and before too much restaurant food that could be suspect.  This trip really boosted my confidence with eating out. It did require a lot of planning and also, a lot of patience from my family but we made it happen without too much inconvenience. I had pizza, pasta, burgers, fries and a lot of baked potatoes...one every day!

That's a quick summary of my summer. I won't promise too much here as to when I'll blog again but do know that my intention is that there will be less time in between blogs this time around. Fall is here and the baking bug has bit me but so has the "I need to lose some weight" bug.  Perfect timing. I'll see what I can come up with for the next blog, somehow these two worlds have to collide!  

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