Archive for October, 2011

Fall Reading List

Posted in favorite things, reading on October 26th, 2011 by Betsy – 5 Comments

Now that I’m back at work for the school year, my reading list is a little shorter than those summer months with endless reading time.  Here are my three fall reads, all of which I recommend!  (No, really I promise I’m reading Anna Karenina next!)

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, Barbara Demick: This nonfiction book tells the story of individuals born in North Korea, who ultimately defected to South Korea.  Even though I’ve studied North Korea before, Nothing to Envy brough a personal touch to history and truly exposed just how desolate life is in North Korea, and has been for the past half century.  The propaganda, brainwashing and control the North Korean government has over its citizens is inexcusable and it’s heartbreaking to read.  Author, Barbara Demick clearly developed relationships with the subjects of her book and hours upon hourslistening to their stories and testimonies.  I find history to be much more personal and understandable when told through individual’s stories.  Demick does a great job sharing these stories with her audience.

State of Wonder, Ann Patchett: I loved Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, but didn’t love her previous novel, Run. My sister-in-law, Alden, raved about State of Wonder, which was published this summer, and she was right.  This fiction story tells the tale of Dr. Marina Singh, who is sent to the Amazon to search for a missing doctor, Dr. Swenson, who has been researching a plant that is believed to extend women’s child bearing age.  Dr. Singh also ventures to South America to find out more about the recent death of her co-worker.  State of Wonder is a great read, that beautifully weaves together characters and shares a story with many different layers and emotions.  A must read!  Fiction at it’s best.  This ones at the top of my “Favorites” list for 2011.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller: One of my all-time favorite books is Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. I even used to offer it as extra credit for my World History students.  Fuller, who has a gift for hilarity and poignancy in her writing, has chosen to focus on her mom’s (Nicola Fuller) story in her newest book.  Fuller grew up in Rhodesia, during a turbulent time in the nation’s history, while her mom’s childhood was spent in Kenya.  Her family epitomizes the colonial (British) farmer trying to live off the land in a nation where they are a minority.  Fuller beautifully illustrates her mom’s unusual childhood, from her best friend, Stephen Foster (who’s a monkey) to her humorous experiences at Catholic school.  Nicola’s adulthood is full of much geographic bouncing around, heartache, and even madness.  My favorite lines of the book involve her mom referring to “that awful book” Fuller wrote.  (She must be a good sport to have her life exposed in her daughter’s books!)

Fall Pumpkin Cake

Posted in baking, recipe on October 24th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Last week, my friend, Michelle, celebrated a birthday and I decided to bake her a cake.  Since she has an October birthday, I thought it would only be fitting to make her a pumpkin cake!  It’s been a busy fall and I haven’t been doing much baking so I was looking forward to the opportunity to get my hands messy in the kitchen.

I perused online for recipes and ended up going with a slightly adapted version of Gluten-Free Goddess’ Pumpkin Cake recipe.  She bakes dairy free and I decided to make this cake with dairy products too so I went with butter instead of olive oil.  Also, I was feeling a tad pressed for time so I didn’t make icing from scratch.  I went with Betty Crocker’s cream cheese frosting which is labeled “Gluten Free” on the container.  (Sure, buying store bought icing isn’t as yummy as making your own but it is a way to cut a little time, and dishes, out of your preparation.)

The cake turned out pretty well, and leftovers even held up for a few days afterward.  The only change I would make to my version of the recipe, is not use an entire ½ cup of almond flour.  I like some texture from almond flour but not too much.  I would maybe go with ¼ cup of almond flour and ¾ cup of tapioca instead of ½ and ½.

Fall Pumpkin Cake (adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess)


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 15-oz can cooked pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 10×13 baking pan.  (Gluten-Free Goddess lines with parchment paper and greases, but I didn’t.)  Mix dry ingredients (white rice flour through salt) together in bowl.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until “light and frothy.” Add the butter, and mix.  Then add brown sugar and mix thoroughly.  Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are blended.  Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, a little at a time, and beat to combine, for two minutes.

Pour batter into baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once cooled, turn cake onto a platter.  (I actually didn’t use the whole cake for the birthday event because it was so big and wouldn’t fit nicely on my platter.)  Ice the cake with store bought (or homemade) icing and decorate however you’d like.

Enjoy with friends!  It’s plenty for a crowd.  Happy Fall!

Gluten-Free Vendor Fair Tomorrow!

Posted in Atlanta, event, GF product, local food on October 21st, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be at the Hilton Hotel in Norcross at the Atlanta Gluten-Free Expo tomorrow.  Price of admission is only $10, which is a total steal considering you get to fill up on unlimited sweet and savory GF food!  Check out the full list of vendors here.

Some of the vendors I’m most excited about seeing are:

I’m sure I’ll discover new brands I love too!  What are you excited about sampling?

More gluten-free buzz in the media

Posted in bakery, baking, GF product, media on October 18th, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Even NPR is talking about going gluten free!  In this broadcast, Look Whose Going Gluten Free, they discuss a new flour blend created by French Laundry’s pastry chef, Lena Kwak and owned by the famous chef/culinary entrepreneur, Thomas Keller.  Labeled as Cup4Cup this brand is not actually used yet at French Laundry but available for purchase.  Now that a bunch of celebs are going gluten free, it’s only fitting that their becomes a high end niche in the GF market!  You can find C4C yourself at Williams-Sonoma, online and in the store.

Has anyone tried Cup4Cup yet?  Thoughts?

Sophie’s Uptown (Buckhead)

Posted in Atlanta, bakery, dessert, GF product on October 17th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

A couple weeks ago, Mary Stuart and I checked out Sophie’s Uptown, a sweet café in Buckhead, on Pharr Road.  This tucked away bakery/café now serves lunch, including gluten-free options.  The bakery is named after the owner’s beloved dog, Sophie, who passed away a couple of years ago.  If you’re a dog lover, Sophie’s is definitely the place for you.  Dog cupcakes, cookies, and decorations can be found throughout the store.

There are plenty of tables inside, and lots of space, so this is a great spot to meet someone for a lunch date.  The menu isn’t huge but there are definitely some good options.  I went with the gluten-free quiche, which is made with a yummy GF crust, and accompanied with a side salad.  It was the perfect lunch for a gorgeous fall afternoon.  Of course I couldn’t resist trying their huge GF brownie.  (I used good restraint and saved the other half for later.)

Check Sophie’s out for yourself and let me know what you think.

PS: Sophie’s donates 25% of profits to local animal rescue!

Sophie’s Uptown – 54 Pharr Road – Atlanta, GA – 404.812.0477

Perfect Sunday: Pizza & Football at Mellow Mushroom

Posted in Atlanta, favorite things, GF product, Uncategorized on October 13th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

How did I not (re)discover Mellow Mushroom pizza earlier???  Of course I remember Mellow Mushroom from my college days in Charlottesville, sitting outside, after a long day of tailgating.  Nothing went better with a pitcher of beer than a Mellow Mushroom pizza and pretzels.  Mmm, just thinking about that crust and those late afternoons makes me miss college and my gluten-eating days.

While I had read that Mellow Mushroom has a gluten-free pizza, I just hadn’t made it over there yet.  What was I thinking?  One Sunday afternoon, David and I decided to head over to the Mellow Mushroom on Peachtree Road and try out the GF pizza.  Not only was the craving for pizza pulling us toward Peachtree’s Mellow Mushroom, but their flat screen TVs and the NFL Sunday Ticket.

We’ve discovered our perfect spot for watching the Redskins when they’re not on the Atlanta networks.  Mellow Mushroom was just the right place for an early Sunday dinner with four football games happening around us.

Kosmic Karma with sausage: so many toppings. I love it!

I was very pleased by the GF pizza at Mellow Mushroom.  Of course it’s not the same as the pizza I remember from my C’ville days, but it’s pretty darn good.  And, they don’t skimp on the toppings so it’s not overly bready.  I went with the Kosmic Karma pizza with sausage and it was amazing.  I can’t resist anything with pesto!  The sundried tomatoes, feta, and spinach are an awesome combination.  Since my first visit, I’ve ordered the Kosmic Karma with chicken, another good protein addition.  (Going with just the veggies is plenty of food and flavor, so don’t feel like you have to order a protein topping.)

Almost all of Mellow Mushroom’s toppings are gluten free, and our server was very knowledgeable as to which ones contained gluten.

Unfortunately, Mellow Mushroom does not currently offer gluten-free beer on their menu but hopefully if more people request GF beer, they’ll add it to their beverage list.


Will I be going back to Mellow Mushroom? Um, already have.  Thanks, Mellow Mushroom, for making a delicious GF pizza that satisfies my carb and greasy food cravings!  I’ll look forward to more Sunday afternoons with you.  You can also call ahead and order takeout too.  Another great option for an easy Sunday dinner! The Vinings location also sells gluten-free pizzas, if that’s closer to your neck of the woods.

Note: I found that reheating the GF pizza worked best in the oven, not in the microwave.  The pizza returns to its normal state in the oven, but is not so good in the microwave.

Mellow Mushroom – 1770 Peachtree Street NW – Atlanta, GA, 30309 – 404.687.4766

Family Fun in ATL & Leon’s Full Service

Posted in Atlanta, local food, meals, Restaurants, Uncategorized on October 10th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Last week, my brother and his family came to ATL for a visit.  We had the best time showing off our city to Rob, Alden, and my two nephews, Pete and Chip.  Of course we shared many of our favorite restaurants with them too!

Time in the backyard with Rob, Pete and Chip

Some of the highlights of the weekend included, homemade pancakes, Taqueria del Sol, Mellow Mushroom, Star Provisions, YEAH Burger, the Georgia Aquarium, and lots of playing outside.

Chip waiting for lunch at Taqueria

Chip with his new football


Sweet Pete!

On Saturday night, my sweet friend, Michelle, offered to baby sit for Pete and Chip so we adults decided to have a night on the town.  We took Rob and Alden to Decatur to see a different part of the Atlanta area.  After a drink at Iberian Pig, we headed over to one of our new favorite restaurants, Leon’s Full Service.

Night out in Decatur

In the last couple of months, David and I’ve been looking for any excuse to go to Leon’s.  We absolutely love their French Fries and dipping sauces that accompany them.  Fortunately you can order multiple sauces because David and I can’t agree on which one we like the best.  (I’m a sucker for the curry and David loves the smoked tomato mayo.)  Leon’s uses a dedicated fryer for their fries so you don’t have to worry about contamination.  Since we’ve discovered Leon’s, we’ve always gotten great service and delicious food.  Don’t be discouraged by the bustle and busy-ness of the restaurant when you walk in: you will be well taken care of from the moment you put your name on the wait list. (PS: Leon’s doesn’t take reservations.)

Best fries in ATL

...And the dipping sauces (yes, we ordered 6!)

Our waiters have always been well aware of the gluten-free options on the menu and I always feel like I have lots of choices.  Even though the restaurant is always full of people, I get great attention from servers and I don’t feel rushed to make my decision. On our most recent visit, however, we learned that the folks at Leon’s have now made a gluten-free menu for their customers.  Now I have even more reason to go to Leon’s!  It’s a good thing we don’t live closer to Leon’s because I would eat there all time!

Leon's GF Menu!

If you haven’t been yet, you must go to Leon’s.  The menu has both casual/light fare as well as fancier entrees.  And they highlight seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farms.  Gotta love that!

Gluten-Free Highlights on Leon’s Menu*:

  • French fries with masaman curry & smoked tomato mayo
  • Grilled pork chop, field peas & greens, carolina gold bbq, red cabbage chow chow
  • Pan roasted domestic snapper baby bok choi, masaman curry butternut squash, lime-mint butter, toasted cashew

Always so sad when the fries are gone

Oh, and make sure to hang out at the bar before you get seated.  The mixologists at the bar are fabulous and they create all kinds of seasonal beverages.

*The menu changes seasonally so expect to find new items when you go (except, of course, the fries).

Leon’s Full Service – 131 E Ponce de Leon Ave – Decatur, Georgia – 404.687.0500


Save the Date: October 22nd!

Posted in Atlanta, event, favorite things, local food on October 6th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

It’s almost that time…the Atlanta Gluten-Free Expo, one of my favorite events in our area, is happening on Saturday, October 22nd.

This will be my third trip to the expo and I can’t wait for a morning of indulgent eating, with no worries about contamination.  It’s the one time of the year that I can literally eat everything in the room.  Nothing’s off limits!  Check out what I had to say about the 2009 and 2010 GF Expos by clicking here and here.

A shot from last year's Gluten-Free Expo

So here are the deets: From 9:00 to 2:00 on Saturday, October 22nd, come to the Hilton Hotel in Norcross, GA, to indulge in many glute-free items.  Cost of admission is $10 and children under 12 are free.  This great event is hosted by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) and organized by gluten-free expert extraordinaire, Jennifer Harris.  For more information on the day’s speakers and events, click here.

Hope to see my fellow Atlantans on the 22nd!  What are some of your favorites from last year?



Article in NY Post on Gluten

Posted in media on October 5th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Check out this article in the NY Post, entitled, “The City’s New Psychosis: Gluten!” It raises some interesting points about the gluten-free diet and how many folks are adopting this diet, even without a celiac or allergy diagnosis.  The article even mentions my favorite GF bakery, Tu-Lu’s Bakery.

After you read the article, let me know what you think.  Is it bad for GF to be trendy like Tom’s?  Or does the expansion of the GF world help promote awareness?

PS: Have you seen, New Girl, the new show in Fox’s Tuesday night line up?  Well, David and I think it’s pretty hysterical so you should check it out.  AND, this article mentions that the show’s star, Zooey Deschanel, is gluten free.  Another GF celeb…Is it getting too trendy?