Archive for January, 2011

“Welcome to Moe’s!”

Posted in Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants on January 28th, 2011 by Betsy – 6 Comments

moeslogo

Moe’s just released a new menu, with clear ingredient and allergen information.  Unfortunately, they don’t offer corn tortillas, but their bowls look yummy.  Corn chips aren’t gf but you could always bring your own.  (Just don’t share your salsa or guac with the rest of the table!)  All of the meats are GF, as well as beans and rice, and lots of toppings.  Click here for more information about their new menu and clarification on gluten-free items.  Always make sure to ask servers to change their gloves when making your dish.

Moe’s is a great place to go for a quick and easy dinner.  Have you tried Moe’s new menu?  What are some of the highlights?  Did employees seem knowledgeable?  Never hesitate to ask to talk to the manager for clarification!  Better safe than sorry.

Dr. Drew, Therapists, and Black Eyes: Bachelor Week 4

Posted in TV on January 26th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

If you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, be warned that spoilers are included:

bachelor logo

The week’s show started off with Michelle’s mysterious black eye.  A recurring theme through the show is Michelle.  Everything is about Michelle.  Everyone’s out to get Michelle.  Brad doesn’t give Michelle enough time.  Michelle gets punched in the face.  (Not really: apparently she punched herself in her sleep.)  Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!  (Excuse me, I mean Michelle, Michelle, Michelle!)

Chantal O. and Brad went under water for their solo date, awkwardly holding hands and ‘kissing’ through massive helmets.  Early in the date, we thought there wasn’t a whole lot of chemistry between Brad and Chantal O., but we were proven wrong as the night progressed and the couple spent time making out in one bed, and then moving to another when it started to rain.  Hello, chemistry.

Brad & Chantal O. on bed #1

Brad & Chantal O. on bed #1

For the group date, the girls went on the Dr. Drew radio show.  I was disappointed there wasn’t a wrap party following the recording.  Of course Brad and the girls still managed to find themselves in a pool.  On the group date, Ashley (the dentist) started to show her ‘crazies,’ freaking out about sharing time with Brad.  Her anxiety and ‘crazies’ increased with the amount of alcohol she consumed, and Ashley was wasted.  Highlight of the group date for me was ‘cutie foodie’ Britt finally exchanging words with Brad.  Not only did they talk a little but they had some serious smooches.  He even told her later, “I love our kisses.”  Awkward.  As I’ve said before, Britt is a personal favorite, so I’m glad to see her stepping up her game.  I just wish she hadn’t worn those heart hoop earrings.

And of course, who got the other solo date, but our girl, Michelle.  The look of evil on Michelle’s face nearly at all times, resembles something you would find in a Disney villain.    Of course the sinister glare was prominent when their solo date started with Brad entering the house and asking to speak to dentist Ashley.  WTF, Brad?  The only person you should look at, speak to, or think about is Michelle.  It’s her day.

Poor Michelle: Life is so hard.

Poor Michelle: Life is so hard.

Why doesn’t the selfish, self absorbed, cynical, personality that Michelle embodies, bother Brad?  I have no idea.  He continues to think she’s amazing.  After repelling down a building for their date (and a hissy fit about a fear of heights) they hopped in the pool and made out.  (For those of you new to the Bachelor, there’s a common theme every season, and every episode, of water and hooking up.)

The Bachelor psychiatrist showed up again this week, but not too much insight except that he told Brad it’s okay to hook up with lots of chicks.  What a guy!  (Do you think Chris Harrison feels threatened by Bachelor psychiatrist?)

At the rose ceremony, Widow Emily managed to cause major drama, while still being the nicest person in the house, who everyone likes.  Brad packed her a special blanket and wine and took her outside on the wet concrete to enjoy it.  This resulted in tears, anxiety, frustration, stalking: a typical rose ceremony.  I like Emily, but I just don’t know if she and Brad have a connection beyond Womack being attracted to her.  Thoughts?

Who went this week?  No major surprises.  Sorry, Meghan, I liked you, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  Stacey and Lindsay, it wasn’t meant to be.  Stacey, I’m sure you weren’t the only one on the radio show that has cheated before…you were just the only one that had the guts to admit it.  Lindsay, you’re right; your dad is proud of you, I’m sure. (Well, as proud as you can be of your daughter going on the Bachelor.) You did keep your clothes on in the pool.  My other favorite, (besides Britt) Lisa, got a rose, but I still don’t know if she and Brad have once had a conversation, just the two of them.  Next week could be your week to go, Lisa, if you don’t start conniving, hogging Brad’s time, and being obnoxious, like the other girls.  Brad saved the last rose for dentist Ashley hoping to scare her straight.  Not sure it was affective.  We all knew she would get the rose.

Stay tuned for next week when the girls continue to fight over Brad, Emily avoids letting her walls down, and the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.

“Let Them Eat Cake”

Posted in baking, GF product on January 25th, 2011 by Betsy – 8 Comments

Do you know Marie Antoinette never actually said that?  (History nerd fact.)

Marie Antoinnette didn't really say those famous words.

Marie Antoinnette didn't really say those famous words.

I’m not a natural born baker.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake, especially when I have the time, but made from scratch cakes aren’t always at the top of my to-do list.

Thankfully more and more companies are making gluten-free baking mixes.  If you, walk down the baking aisle at Whole Foods, search on Amazon, or google ‘gluten-free baking mixes,’ the choices can even be a little overwhelming.  These mixes can also be costly so you don’t want to spend lots of money on ‘not so edible’ cake mixes.  It’s hard to know which one to go with when they’re all staring at you from the shelf.

A couple of months ago, I had a bunch of girls over to celebrate a fellow gluten-free friend’s birthday.  Of course, gluten-free cake is a must for a birthday celebration!  I decided to bake two cakes, using two different brands because, well, why not?

pamelas mix

My first cake was Pamela’s Classic Vanilla Cake Mix.  Pamela’s brand is a family favorite, especially when making chocolate chip cookies, Sunday morning pancakes, or communion bread (yes, that’s right, communion bread).

When I lived on a high school dorm, I often made Pamela’s cakes for dorm parties and advisory birthdays.  Pamela’s is one of the pioneers of GF baking mixes.  I enjoy her cakes, but they can be a little on the dry side…my solution for this, lots of icing!  Pamela’s also makes an icing that you make, adding butter, but I find it too much effort for not that great of icing.  (I would rather make homemade or use Betty Crocker’s, which are now labeled gluten-free.) pamelas cake undec

Pamela’s is easy to make and not many additional ingredients.  It bakes correctly if you follow the instructions, but no matter how much I try to flatten out the batter in the cake tin, it still tends to come out unevenly high in the center, which sometimes affects baking time and baking consistency.  After a few days sitting on the counter, the cake becomes a little dry.  (Solution: heat in the microwave for about 7 seconds, not too long or the cake will melt.)

Pamela's cake with chocolate frosting: Don't judge the cake by its decorator.

Pamela's cake with chocolate frosting: Don't judge the cake by its decorator.

I won’t turn down a slice of Pamela’s cake, but I think I’ve found something better and simpler… betty crocker box

The second cake for the festivities came from the mother of ‘glutenful’ baking, Betty Crocker.  Betty’s gluten-free line of baked goods, which hit shelves last year, offers a-mazing brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  I love the brownies but the jury is still out on Crocker’s cookies.  (I go with Pamela’s if I’m making GF cookies from a mix.)

betty cake undec 2

So I tried the expert and went with Betty Crocker’s gluten-free Devil’s Food cake mix.  This cake was so easy to make and cooked perfectly.  With both Pamela’s and Betty’s cake mixes you need to use a mixer, but it’s worth it.  The cake was perfectly moist and flavorful.  Very chocolatey but not too sweet.  I normally prefer yellow cake over chocolate, but this devil’s food cake is my new cake of choice.  It was delicious.  Of course we all had some of both, but my heart was with the chocolate.  (It looked prettier too.)

Betty Crocker Cake: M&Ms make everything look better.

Betty Crocker Cake: M&Ms make everything look better.

As I mentioned before, I just used Betty Crocker icings for the two cakes.  So easy.  Making your own icing is fun too, but it means two more times cleaning the mixer.  (Why do I hate washing that dish so much?)

Two pieces are better than one!

Two pieces are better than one!

What are your favorite gluten-free baking mixes?  Recommendations or hesitations?

Therapists, Seal, and Adios Vampire: Bachelor, Week 3

Posted in Uncategorized, vegetarian on January 21st, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Still spoilers in this post if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode…

bachelor logoThis week wasn’t too memorable for me.  Hence, I’ve waited until Friday to share my thoughts with you.  Here’s all I’ve got:

  • It’s only taken me four days to get “Kiss from a Rose” out of my head.  I love you, Seal, but Brad and Ashley S. butchered your work.  That’s what happens when you agree to perform on ‘The Bachelor.’  Maybe you should reevaluate your manager.
I mean, I know I love the Bachelor, but could it really help Seal's sales that much?

I mean, I know I love the Bachelor, but could it really help Seal's sales that much?

  • Michelle continues to be manipulative and annoying.  Brad loves every second of it.
  • There was yet another group date that involved a film set, a ‘wrap party,’ and night swimming. (Cue back tattoo.)  I’m looking for a little more creativity, ABC!
It wouldn't really be a complete episode without seeing Brad's tatt.

It wouldn't really be a complete episode without seeing Brad's tatt.

  • Widow Emily finally shared her story with Brad.  The jury’s still out for me on Emily.  I’ve found in talking to my fellow Bachelor watchers (and there are more of us than you think), people feel strongly one way or another about Emily.  One thing I did not love was Emily’s jumper outfit. Side note: I found it cruel of the producers to put Emily on a date that involved a private plane.
  • Brad’s ‘therapist in L.A.’ made an appearance, telling Brad to “make these women feel comfortable” so they will show him who they are.  Translation: “Every woman is going to take an emotional dump on you, Brad.”  There were more tears and sob stories this week than I think I’ve ever witnessed in Bachelor history.  And let’s be honest, no one can trump Widow Emily’s story so they all seem a little silly in comparison.
  • Shawntel (not to be confused with Chantal O.) came out of the woodwork as an action fighter in this episode.  She’s one of my new favorites and I’m impressed that Brad has sense enough to like her.
Shawntel: not Chantal

Shawntel: not Chantal

  • I still maintain that Madison is normal.  Sad to see her go this week, fangs and all.
  • My girls, Lisa and Britt, made it another week but they’ve got to get their game faces on if they want see week 5.
  • Is it just me, or are way too many roses being given out during the show, instead of just waiting for the rose ceremony?  (I think the producers are trying to create more drama, if that’s even possible.)

PS: Did anyone see Chris Harrison host Miss America last weekend?  Of course I did.  That guys got it made.

Until next week…

Reflections on Cooking & Dining in Japan, and World Travel as a Celiac

Posted in advice, cooking, Restaurants, travel on January 20th, 2011 by Betsy – 5 Comments

Thankfully, I stayed healthy the entire time I was in Japan.  Pretty impressive for my first trip outside of North America since my diagnosis.  My sister-in-law, Alden went to great lengths to make sure that I had plenty of food options in their home (rice cakes, peanut butter, Chex, M&M’s) and she even researched dining options out.

At work in the kitchen.

At work in the kitchen.

There is something a little sad about no longer being able to be a culinary adventurer when I travel.  I miss being able to say “Sure, why not?” when something is put down in front of me.  Now there is lots of research to be done, questions to be asked, and restraint to be used.  I have never been tempted to eat gluten or break my diet.  I remember how miserable I was when during the height of my illness so no piece of pizza or cookie is worth purposefully feeling crummy.  In Japan, I was pitifully unadventurous in my cuisine, when dining out.  For the most part, I stuck with cucumber rolls, pickled plum and shrimp sushi, with my GF soy sauce.  Nothing fancy but still yummy and at least felt a little “Japanesey”.

Just because I couldn’t partake in all of the sampling fun, didn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy watching every plate go by me on the sushi conveyor belt at a restaurant.  And one of the highlights of the trip for me was going to a department store in Tokyo and taking in all of the sights in their version of a ‘food court.’  Did I know what anything was?  Nope.  Were any ingredients listed?  None in English.  Could I try it?  No.  But that’s ok.  Glass case, after glass case, full of beautiful dishes was still a sight worth seeing.

Just a taste of a Tokyo department store food cart.  No Sbarro here.

Just a taste of a Tokyo department store food cart. No Sbarro here.

At home we ate delicious “ovenless” meals, and one night we even made our own version of ramen, using rice noodles that Alden thoughtfully purchased.  We followed Gluten Free Girl’s recipe for Spontaneous Pork Ramen.  We made a few changes, but for the most part stuck to the original recipe.  It was yummy!  I was particularly proud of myself because I navigated the Hayama grocery store, solo, to pick up some of the ingredients for the dinner.  You should have seen me trying to identify pork and bok choy with no English for guidance.

We spent our last two days of the trip in Tokyo, and on our final night, we went out to an amazing dinner at Nobu.  That name might sound familiar to you because this high end restaurant has locations in New York, San Diego, Dallas and other cities.  I brought my card that explained celiac/gluten in Japanese and the folks at Nobu were very receptive.  (They even made a photo copy of the card and brought me back my original copy!)

Nobu

Nobu

At Nobu, we shared some veggie rolls and for my entrée, I ordered the salmon, which was delicious, and one of the most perfectly cooked pieces of meat I’ve ever eaten.  The dish came with a mango salsa rice and the flavors complimented the salmon perfectly and uniquely.  The staff was so attentive, clearly explaining everything to me, my options and what substitutions they would make.

nobu

For dessert, we shared the trio of crème brulees: green tea, brown sugar, and black sesame.  The crowd favorites were brown sugar and black sesame.  Green tea seemed a little too much like spinach.  (Side note: green tea is a very popular flavor in Japan.  Hagen-Daas even makes a green tea ice cream.)

Our dinner at Nobu was the perfect finale to our Japan trip.  A beautiful, delicious meal that kept me healthy.  Success!  While I left Japan without trying many of their staples, I boarded the flight back to the States with a full, and healthy, belly.  You can’t ask for more than that!

Gluten-Free Week at the kitchn

Posted in baking, cooking, reading on January 19th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

It’s ‘Gluten Free Week’ at thekitchn.com.  This website, full of great recipes is focusing this week on all gluten-free recipes and food conversations.  Click here to learn more.

TheKitchn_logo

One of my favorite posts from the week is “Cocoa to Cornstarch: Are these 10 ingredients gluten-free?”

I always want to applaud a mainstream foodie website or magazine for giving attention to gluten-free eaters.

It’s always “Gluten-Free Week” at Gluten Freedom!

Bachelor: Week 2

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13th, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Beware of spoilers if you have not watched this week’s episode…

bachelor recap

There was a little controversy at Camp Metcalf on Monday night regarding our primetime viewing.  It was more of a personal conflict, actually.  As you know, I love ‘The Bachelor.’  I’m also a pretty avid college sports fan.  Last night, ‘The Bachelor’ started at 8:00 but kickoff for the football national championship occurred at 8:37.

Decisions, decisions: Cam Newton or Brad Womack? War Eagle or 1st Impression Rose?

Decisions, decisions: Cam Newton or Brad Womack? War Eagle or 1st Impression Rose?

What did people do before Tivo?

Well, we watched the first half of ‘The Bachelor’ prior to starting the football game.  It was a bit of a tease to get sucked into the drama of ‘The Bachelor,’ only to turn it off before Train’s awkward performance and the rose ceremony.

During the first half, I quickly grew tired of Brad and Ashley skipping around the low-budget carnival, and Michelle whining about her birthday.  In case you didn’t catch it the first ten times, it was Michelle’s birthday.  Did anyone else think Michelle was quite intoxicated after she got the rose on her date?  I sure did.

Ashley & Brad frolicking at the carnival

Ashley & Brad frolicking at the carnival

The group date was just weird.  I don’t know who’s in charge of publicity for the American Red Cross, but those PSAs were bizarre.  No one looked good and the whole thing was awkward.  Also, Melissa, get control of yourself.  Later in the evening, at the ‘wrap party,’ there was plenty of pool time for the ladies to show off their bikini bodies, get drunk, and start yelling at each other.  (Nothing out of the norm for an early episode.)  Side note: Every time I see Brad get out of the pool/shower, I am still taken aback by his back tattoo.  I just can’t get used to it.  I really don’t think he had that body art in his first season, did he?

Once David and I turned ‘The Bachelor’ back on, I found it was harder to regain my Bachelor momentum.  In the last couple of years, the producers work really hard to make ALL of the episodes two hours.  That’s a lot of Bachelor, maybe even (I hate to admit this) too much.  I mean, having Ali and Roberto on the show to give their opinions on each of the ladies?  A bit of a stretch, if you ask me.

Melissa: too aggressive from the beginning

Melissa: too aggressive from the beginning

I give Brad major props for getting rid of crazy Melissa this week.  In past seasons, the ‘stir up trouble/dramatic’ girl would have stayed around for a few weeks.  Good riddance, Melissa!  Maybe you should start seeing a psychiatrist.  (I’m sure Brad could give you some recommendations.)

Final Thoughts on the episode:

-       If Madison didn’t have fangs, she might be ok.

Vampire Madison

Vampire Madison

-       Britt, the food writer from Washington, is an early favorite.  She needs more one on one time with Brad if she wants to make it past Week Three.

Britt, the "Cutie Foodie"

Britt, the "Cutie Foodie"

-       Michelle started off strong in Week 1, but I’m no longer on the Michelle train.  She’s manipulative and crazy.  Perfect for the show, but not for the new Brad.  He’s too sensitive and working too hard to break down his walls.

Michelle: Don't be fooled by her looks like Brad is

Michelle: Don't be fooled by her looks like Brad is

-       Emily, the widow, seems sweet and the other ladies like her.  Brad is oddly obsessed with her considering they haven’t had any conversations with substance.  I’m thinking next week she will tell Brad about hubby and daughter, Ricky.

Emily

Emily

-       At the rose ceremony, there were a handful of really cute bachelorettes that I felt like I’d never seen before, such as Lisa.  She’s a former college track and cross country runner, AND she’s from Kansas, which puts her at the top of my list.  Lisa, get in there, girl!

lisa

Stay tuned for next week’s episode: solo date with Emily, group date with more filming scenes/stage kissing/drama, and other excitement.  No more National Championship game to compete with, so Bachelor will get the full attention it deserves.

Snow My Goodness

Posted in Atlanta, local food, meals on January 12th, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

We’ve been covered in ice since Sunday night, here in Atlanta.  Three days later, we still haven’t had school and just got the car out this morning.  Fortunately, we’ve had a plethora of soup and chili in the freezer that we’ve been going through, but today it was necessary to go to the store and reload.  Slim pickings…no trucks have delivered to our local Publix since the weekend and everything was picked over.  Everything.

The meat section: We managed to snag some beef tenderloin

The meat section: We managed to snag some beef tenderloin

Veggies?

Veggies?

Onions and potatoes usually go here

Onions and potatoes usually go here

This shelf dashed my hopes of having something green tonight.

This shelf dashed my hopes of having something green tonight.

There were plenty of potato chips so David was happy.  Tonight we’ll be having beef tenderloin and twice baked potatoes.  So I can’t complain too much.

Subway: Eat (Gluten-Free) Fresh

Posted in Restaurants on January 12th, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

2Subway-logo

My friend, Guru, passed along this article, telling us that Subway restaurants in Dallas, TX are testing two gluten-free items, sandwich bread and brownies.  Their gluten-free items will be pre-packaged and employees will be trained to cut the GF bread with a pre-wrapped knife to prevent contamination.  The same sandwich guy will make the gluten-free sandwich from start to finish.

Sounds like the folks at Subway know their stuff and are working hard to truly make safe gluten-free meals.

Now if Jared gets diagnosed with Celiac, he can still partake in his Subway diet.

Now if Jared gets diagnosed with Celiac, he can still partake in his Subway diet.

Let me know if you’re in the Dallas area and sample a gluten-free sandwich.  Also, according to this article, a restaurant trend of 2011 is creating menus that accommodate gluten-free diners.  A good trend, as long as restaurants are fully investigating ingredients and making sure their dishes are really gluten-free.

Have you heard of any other restaurants that are trying new gluten-free menu items?

Yokosuka & Change of Plans

Posted in travel, Uncategorized on January 10th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Over Christmas, my mom and I ventured across the globe to visit my brother, sister-in-law and nephew.  After 17 hours of sitting on a plane, we landed in Narita, greeted by my brother, Rob.  I was exhausted,  only to learn that we still had a 2-hour drive to their home in Hayama, an adorable beach town full of Japanese surfers, carp, and shrines.  As I pretended not to sleep in the backseat, we headed towards their home.

hayama

Hayama

Rob & Alden's House in Hayama

Rob & Alden's House in Hayama

Selling veggies in Hayama

Selling veggies in Hayama

Rob & Alden's one-way street

Rob & Alden's one-way street

Rob, Alden and Chip are living in Japan because of my brother’s navy career.  I get claustrophobic after five minutes on a ship, so I can’t imagine embarking on that career choice, but Rob continues to be very successful at his job on the seas.  More importantly, he has a supportive wife who is willing to be a part of the adventure and put up with the unexpectedness of the navy.

Rob & me in front of the USS Fitzgerald

Rob & me in front of the USS Fitzgerald

On the Fitzgerald, unsuccessfully trying to get my camera to work.

On the Fitzgerald, unsuccessfully trying to get my camera to work.

Speaking of unexpected, Rob was called out to sea, 36 hours into our visit.  Stupid, North Korea!  It was really sad to see him go, especially as Rob is the tour guide extraordinaire, but we still had a wonderful time with Chip and Alden, exploring Japan.  Fortunately, before Rob left, we were able to see the navy base where Rob works, and go on his ship, the USS Fitzgerald.  I’m always amazed (and nauseous) when I go on one of these ships.  The use of space, managing of people and simple daily functioning while a ship is deployed, is pretty incredible.

Tight quarters on the Fitzgerald...do I look like I'm going to be sick?

Tight quarters on the Fitzgerald...do I look like I'm going to be sick?

The naval base in Yokosuka, not only holds ships, but is basically a city in itself.  Grocery stores, McDonald’s, apartment buildings, houses, a gym and even two movie theaters.  And a Starbuck’s.

Before Rob left, we all enjoyed a late afternoon on the beach, allowing Chip yet again, to be our main source of entertainment.  On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji.

walking on beach

Who knew a boat trailer could be so much fun?  Chip must take after his grandfather.

Who knew a boat trailer could be so much fun? Chip must take after his grandfather.

jap famil beach

We also watched a wedding in a hotel, overlooking the beach.  Perfect location!

wedding

sunset

The next day Rob received his orders to leave, early in the morning.  While it was sad to see him go, we were glad to get that time with Alden and Chip, and were thrilled to find out that Rob would get back in time for Christmas.

We missed you, Rob!

chip and rob