Musings

Iron Chef Nolan: Gluten Free Goddess

I spent my weekend doing my best impression of an Iron Chef.  I made:

  • Gluten free sandwich bread
  • Gluten free hot dog buns
  • Gluten free pretzels (which still needs tweaking as a recipe…)
  • German potato salad
  • Mini quiches with bacon, mushroom, spinach, asparagus, and smoked gouda (Holy crap awesome)
  • Gluten free cinnamon rolls
  • Frito chili pie
  • Bratwurst

Um, yeah, that was in 2 days.  And it’s NOT EVEN THANKSGIVING YET!

I love to cook.  I loved to cook before we discovered my hubs is gluten intolerant, which is fortunate for him, otherwise he would be totally screwed.  Gluten intolerance is a poorly understood condition by the public.  The whole concept of being allergic to WHEAT (or, in fact, the protein in wheat, which is what gluten is) totally does not compute for most of the population.  I know when it was mentioned to me when hubs and I started dating and he was eating stuff with wheat in it left and right and not falling down into anaphalactic shock, I just kinda blew it off.

But here’s the deal. It’s a real condition, folks.  The decision to go gluten free isn’t like up and deciding, “oh well I think I’ll do the Atkins Diet or Sugar Busters or South Beach or [insert fad diet here].”  It is a legitimate health problem.  Gluten makes those who are gluten intolerant sick.  For those people unfortunate enough to be true celiacs, their body attacks wheat like a virus.  It’s bad.  And when you’re entertaining for or eating with someone who’s gluten intolerant, it’s really kind of rude to just throw up your hands and say “It’s too much trouble to bother to learn anything about this condition.  You’re just going to have to bring his own special food.”

Yeah, we’ve encountered that attitude.  It makes me really angry.  REALLY.  There are already limitations on almost ALL eating out, so being deliberately exclusionary without even making a tiny effort is just…it pushes my buttons.  And makes me pull out my Iron Chef hat and start making amazing things for hubby because, damn it,  I love him.

I’m certainly not saying you should go out and take a culinary course in gluten free cooking.  Don’t expect you to know everything about this condition (though, heavens to Betsy, ask some questions!).  Not saying you need to buy 800 special flours.  I can take care of that myself, and regularly do.  But gluten free cooking is not actually hard.  It just means you have to actually COOK.  From SCRATCH.

I know.  This is a radical concept in our country.  But it’s not hard to read some labels.  And there are even gluten free products out there in your regular grocery store.  Even small town Walmart.  And yeah, they’re more expensive than the regular convenient kind, but for a once in a while event, it’s worth spending a few extra bucks to say “Hey, I know you’ve got this thing, and I was thinking about you and really wanted to include you.”

As we move into our first gluten free Thanksgiving, I’ll be making up gluten free chess squares (hubby’s fave from Before), gluten free gravy (so not hard–just use corn starch instead of flour as a thickener), and even taking a stab at making gluten free Sister Schubert style rolls.  We are all eagerly waiting to see if I can actually pull that off.

If you’re looking for recipes to feed YOUR gluten free friends and family, hop on over to Pots and Plots.  I’ve tagged several hundred recipes that are gluten free to make it nice and easy for everyone.

17 thoughts on “Iron Chef Nolan: Gluten Free Goddess

  1. Cook from scratch? You must be mad! tee hee Actually, what a wonderful excuse to get creative in the kitchen. I applaud your rant, and admire your determination. So, have you written a Gluten Free cookbook? Planning to? Is so, let me know.

  2. For some reason, this post brought tears to my eyes. I think it was the part where you said you cook gluten free stuff for your husband because you love him. I know, even though you love to cook, that it has to have been a bit of a challenge to cook gluten free items. Your genuine love and concern for your man really touches me. I don’t have any close family or friends that are gluten intolerant, but I hope I would make an effort for them if I did.

  3. I can’t handle much gluten so I avoid it and modified food starch. It means reading labels in stores. My doctor said the main reason so many of us are intolerant is the amount of modified food starch added as our food. He also claims modified food starch contributes to weight gain. We aren’t meant to eat that much wheat or its by-products. When eating out, I have to be sooo careful of what I order.

    1. The food industry is horrible! They add so much NOT good for you stuff to foods that they have no business being in because it makes them last longer or somehow cheaper.

    1. Hubby’s mom is adapting the sweet potato casserole and hubs doesn’t actually eat the cornbread dressin’ (so I’m not actually adapting that one). It’s a challenge but so doable if people will just take a little time to LEARN STUFF.

  4. Thank you so much for this. Eating gluten-free does often mean cooking from scratch, simply because the food industry puts gluten into things where it has absolutely no business being. I’ve even encountered things where wheat wasn’t even a listed ingredient but the label said it had gluten in it. What the hell? Thankfully my family makes an effort when I go round and it’s certainly meant I have to eat more healthily. It’s great that you make so much effort for your other half.

    1. Yep, he’s tried Bards (not available in Mississippi), Redbridge, and Stella Artois (not officially gluten free but very low gluten, so he has been able to have it).

  5. I’m also gluten free- I use to love to cook, but since I ‘can’t eat’ so much stuff I gave up trying to cook things I use to like because I don’t want to be disappointed by how it turns out. Thanks for the link and the inspiration.

  6. Your hubs is a lucky man. 🙂

    I’ve been gf since 1997 and it’s so, so much better now. I can go to the store and buy gf pretzels and awesome frozen pizza crust (Udi’s). I’m drinking a bottle of Lakefront Brewery’s New Grist beer (gf) as I type this. I’m going to Thanksgiving at my brother and SIL’s house on Thursday – I’m bringing the dressing (http://www.stumblingoverchaos.com/archives/1855), and pretty much everything except the pies will be gf (gravy made with cornstarch, gf frozen rolls from the co-op, etc). And my SIL’s going to bake me a bit of pumpkin custard so I don’t miss out.

  7. Your husband is very lucky! My mom has celiac’s and she is diabetic – eating outside the home is pretty impossible.

    I’m sad that you’ve encountered that sort of reaction from people in social settings. What if you had a peanut allergy or were vegetarian? Would a host/ess just say “not my problem”? Why is this any different?

    I belong to a group that has some gluten intolerant people, and I always make and bring a gluten free cake of some sort to our functions – they are always so appreciative. Now I know why – they’ve probably had scenarios like you’ve described.

  8. My mom’s gluten intolerant, getting arthritic symptoms if she eats wheat; I’m rice intolerant (among other things). We’re both egg intolerant, though I can handle a little bit of egg.

    Creating gluten-free meals is actually easy if you only try. Producing meals without gluten, egg, or rice—now, that’s harder.

    And if you think that’s bad, I know one family where the mother and 4 daughters all have different (often exclusive) allergies. Some people just don’t think.

    Then again, I guess I discovered that the time my friend’s husband tried to “help” me, because he assumed my strawberry allergy was psychosomatic. No, I actually do have trouble breathing from mere proximity to strawberries. (To be fair, he apologized when he realized that it wasn’t in my head and yes, I actually was that allergic.)

  9. Wow! I can’t imagine not eating bread or pizza. If you ever eat cake (or any type of bread), do you substitute wheat flour with rice flour or something? We are all entitled to our diet of choice so I don’t see the problem of not eating wheat.

    1. It’s a bit more complicated than that. Gluten free baking is a lot like chemistry because you’re taking a lot of ingredients to trying to fool them into behaving like wheat flour.

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