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Where Have I Been? (And Recent Favorites)

Posted in favorite things, GF product, local food, meals, Mexican Restaurants, product, vegetarian on May 31st, 2012 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Well, it’s been awhile.  I apologize for my absence, and I wish I could say that I’ll be back at my frequent posts, but I’m not sure that is the case.  The school year finished up at its normal, crazy pace, allowing little to no time for blog posts.  My creative juices also haven’t been flowing as much as I’d like because at the end of the day, I’m wiped, and would rather watch an episode of “Ellen” or “Around the World in 80 Plates” than write.

A photo of the baby bump from a sweet baby shower hosted by friends a month ago

I’m 35 weeks pregnant so we’re in the final stretch.  Baby Girl Metcalf is healthily growing and I’d like her to keep baking for at least a few more weeks.  It’s a relief to get to this point though because if she made her debut today, she would be just fine.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite things in the last couple of months.  I’ll give you more in the next few weeks but here is just a “taste”…

Talenti Gelato: This gelato has been my go-to weeknight dessert.  They clearly label which of their gelatos are gluten free.  It is creamy, delicious and a fun splurge.  My personal favorites are the chocolate peanut butter cup and sea salt caramel.  Check out all of their flavors here.

Verde Taqueria: Verde has existed in the Atlanta area for awhile but in the last year they’ve opened one close to us.  Verde notes all of the items on their menu that can be made gluten free.  My favorites include the Verde Salad with grilled chicken and the veggie taco.  Just make sure you clearly explain your dietary needs.  If you’re in the mood for chips and guac (which are delicious), just check with your server to see when they were prepared that day.  Usually they fry them first thing in the morning before the fryer gets contaminated.  While I love Taqueria del Sol, Verde has a bit bigger menu (i.e. the salad option) and you don’t have to wait in line.

Burge Organic Farm CSA: I participated in this CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) in the fall and renewed for the spring and summer.  Getting these weekly veggies has revived my cooking and creativity, making me experiment with produce that I wouldn’t necessarily pick out at the store.  I enjoy swiss chard once I make it, but it’s not at the top of my culinary list.  If you’re feeling like you’re in a cooking rut, you should definitely think about joining a CSA.  What better way to welcome summer, than cooking with the veggies that are the freshest?

Palmetto Pimento Cheese: This amazing pimento cheese has become a staple in the Metcalf household.  We discovered it via our friends, Peyten and Stan, and were thrilled to find it in our local Publix.  I’ve always liked pimento cheese but this brand stands above the rest.  They were recently out of Palmetto at Publix so we went with a different brand and there was no comparison.  We didn’t even finish the container.  And, all three of their varieties (orginal, jalapeño and  bacon) are gluten free.  They use Hellman’s mayo, which is gluten free.

 

What are some of your favorite things right now?

Saturday Morning Reflections

Posted in GF product, meals, product, travel, Uncategorized on July 13th, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

I’m always in search of gluten-free bread products.  I don’t use gf bread as a major component of my regular diet, partially because it’s a hastle and because I just don’t find it to be that good.  As you know though, I’m always looking for good bread/bagel products for the occasional cream cheese and jam breakfast.  A few weeks ago, I purchased Whole Foods’ Cinnamon Raisin bread and I’m pretty pleased with the recipe they’ve created.  I would say it’s up there with a Sally’s cinnamon raisin English muffin or an Udi’s bagel.

On a recent Saturday morning, when my resident pancake maker (David) was out golfing, I had a rare morning to myself (with no commitments).  In the absence of my weekend chef, I was looking for a “more fun than cereal” weekend breakfast so I decided to break out the cinnamon raisin bread and indulge in a little cream cheese/cinnamon raisin toast.  The Whole Foods Bakehouse bread is perfectly delicious toasted.  It’s got more flavor than plain bread and makes you feel like you’re enjoying a bagel.  There aren’t specific toasting instructions on the packaging but I heated it at 350 for about 5 minutes on each side.  (We don’t have a toaster in our house so we’re limited in our toasting options.)

I devoured both pieces of toast and of course enjoyed my breakfast accompanied with a cup (or two) of coffee.  Why do cinnamon, cream cheese and coffee go so perfectly together?  Not sure, but it’s awesome.

I couldn’t help but think about my brother, Rob, as I ate my breakfast and drank my coffee from my Yokohama Starbucks mug.  I received a postcard in the mail the day before from Rob sent via Okinawa, where his ship was in port at the time he sent it.  I can’t read a word of Rob’s handwriting so it can be a bit of a project to decipher his thoughtful cards (hence I was finally reading it a day later).  I haven’t seen Rob since March 12th, when his ship was sent out to do tsunami relief.  I miss him a lot.  I savor the occasional phone call from him from across the world and I only wish they could be more frequent.  You would think at this point I’d be used to my big brother being a world traveler (he’s lived in Japan, China,Turkey, and Bahrain), but I’m not.

It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I wrote this post (“Blueberry Muffins and Childhood Memories”), which is one of my favorites.  A lot changes in a year.  Since then, Rob and Alden have had a baby, I’ve been to Japan (twice), we’ve both survived an earthquake, and Rob continues to serve our country, alongside many others whose families bear a large burden for their spouses’ hard work and service.  The families truly serve us too.

Rob & Chip

Rob’s going to be back in the States (hopefully) as of August.  I can’t wait to see him and have him back in the same time zone.  I know he’s eager to be home too.  You’re greatly missed, Rob.  Hurry home!

Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookies?

Posted in baking, product, recipe on February 28th, 2011 by Betsy – 6 Comments

Last weekend, our neighborhood girl scout stopped by to bring David his Tagalongs.  As he dove right in to the box of chocolate peanut butter goodness, I was reminded of years of Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Trefoils.

samoa Recently, I haven’t had much time in the kitchen, but my friend Wendy sent me this article, which has me inspired: Make Your Own Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookies

dosido

Sounds awesome, right?  They have gluten-free recipes for Thin Mints and the equivalent of Do-Si-Dos.  (Do you remember those?)  Yum!  I was disappointed that they didn’t have a recipe for Samoas so I did some sleuthing on my own and found this recipe for gluten-free samoas, on Gluten-Free Betsy.  (Great name!)

thin mints 2

It’s not the same as ripping into the brightly colored box, I’ll admit, but it’s not too bad.  Have you tried making your own version of Girl Scout Cookies?  What’s your childhood favorite?

Old World Artisan Bread Company

Posted in Atlanta, bakery, product on February 16th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

old worldGF Whole Grains Bread

Recently my kitchen has been stocked full with gluten-free breads from a local, Atlanta bakery, Old World Artisan Bread Company.  Owner and founder, Thomas Sergio, began his career baking gluten-filled breads and bagels, but has realized there is a need for yummy, gluten-free breads in the Atlanta area.  Sergio has done just that and developed a recipe that is flavorful, texturally bread-like, and more importantly, perfect for sandwiches, grilled cheese and even French toast.  Prepare to wow your friends, as they won’t know this bread is gluten-free.  (Nor will they be overcome by a weird after taste, either!)

old world pbj open

I have been enjoying the gluten-free whole grains bread for lunch in a variety of ways.  Grilled cheese is hard to resist on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but I must admit, my favorite combination is Old World’s bread toasted and topped with peanut butter and homemade jam.  I never get tired of peanut butter, thank goodness!  I know it’s not fancy, but it’s so good.  And, it takes truly delicious bread for me to forego my rice cakes and use GF bread.

My Favorite Jam...

My Favorite Jam...

old world pbj2

Old World’s cinnamon raisin muffins are particularly delicious when enjoyed with cream cheese and jam.  A perfect afternoon snack or morning breakfast.  Just heat the muffins a little in the oven, slice in half and let the cream cheese work its magic.  I prefer this combination to a thick, gluten-free bagel anyways.  (Gluten-free bagels involve way too much chewing for my liking.)

Cinnamon Raisin Muffins: Envision with Cream Cheese

Cinnamon Raisin Muffins: Envision with Cream Cheese

I always keep soup, stews and chili in the freezer for a quick weeknight dinner, so last week, I enjoyed leftover beef chili (made by David), Brussels sprouts, and an Old World dairy-free, gluten-free dinner roll.  These rolls taste delicious with honey or butter and made the dinner more filling.  I just love corn bread or a roll with soup.  (It makes me feel more normal.)

old world GF Dinner Rolls

old world chili

Perfect Weeknight Dinner

Final Verdict: Old World Artisan’s gluten-free offerings are not to be missed and even gluten eaters will enjoy these products.  Buy a variety and store extras in the freezer.  Stay tuned for more info on their gluten-free hamburger buns.

Check out Old World’s gluten-free offerings on their website.  You can find Sergio’s gluten-free products at Return to Eden (Atlanta) and Atlantis Natural Foods (Dunwoody).

These are a few of my Favorite Things

Posted in product, TV, Uncategorized on November 23rd, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Yesterday, Oprah hosted her last ever ‘Favorite Things’ episode.  (I’m wiping a tear from my eye as I write.)  It was such a monumental occasion: Gayle was in the audience and Steadman even watched from the control room.  (Only the third taping Oprah’s man has ever attended.)

Oprah's Final Favorite Things

Oprah's Final Favorite Things

I know that everyone has their own opinions of Oprah, but I love her.  I always have, always will.  I don’t care how wealthy she gets or how much of the media she controls.  She’s awesome.  I’m amazed at how much she’s overcome, her success, and the ‘O’ empire that she created.  She’s confident, powerful, opinionated and professional.  I’ve watched Oprah for years and I will miss those wonderful afternoons where I happen to be at the gym when Oprah’s on the air.  (Who am I kidding?  Now that I have DVR, I record it everyday.)

This 25th and final season has been particularly great.  Some highlights include: the entire cast of The Sound of Music (including Julie Andrews), Gayle and Oprah camping in Yosemite, Jon Stewart, and of course, her two episodes ‘favorite things.’

Oprah & The Sound of Music Cast: Two of my Favorite Things

Oprah & The Sound of Music Cast: Two of my Favorite Things

Yosemite or Bust

Yosemite or Bust

Sadly, I wasn’t the beneficiary of any of Oprah’s gifts, but I did fall for the marketing genius that is Oprah’s favorite things.  I now desperately want an iPad, a Le Creuset cookware set (well, I’ve always wanted that, now I just want “Oprah’s Set”), and a Volkswagon.  Oh, and throw in some Garrett popcorn (yes, it’s gluten-free) and a Black Eyed Peas CD too.

All good things must come to an end, I guess.

Ode to My Food Processor

Posted in cooking, local food, product, recipe on July 30th, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

food processor 2

Dear Mini-Food Processor,

You have been a wonderful kitchen gadget for our family.  Making hummus with you has been a favorite Sunday activity.  Your salad dressings are delicious and you always know just the right amount to make.  The perfect size for a batch of pesto, you’ve been a great friend in our tiny apartment.  Even though we keep you on the top shelf, almost weekly I stand on my tip toes, grab you, and put you to work.

You’ve been working overtime recently, as we’ve had an endless supply of basil.  Thank you for your hard work.  You never disappoint.  Even when I fine a large chunk of garlic in my hummus that you forgot to chop up, I don’t mind because I know that I ask a lot of you.

basil

I have a confession to make, Mini Food Processor.  You’re going to have a new home.  It’s not that we don’t love you, but it’s time for us to buy a bigger food processor.  You will always be our first and I  have many fond memories of our time together.  Now that we’re moving into a home with a more spacious kitchen, it only seems right to buy a larger model.  I’m looking forward to working with our new food processor, chopping onions and other veggies, but just know that you will never be forgotten.

Your new home with the Williams will be much more spacious than the living conditions you’ve had for the past year.  Meredith will take good care of you, I promise, and make many yummy foods with you.  Keep chopping away.

Love,

Betsy

food processor

Basil Dressing (in the Mini Food Processor)

This is a great dressing for salad and delicious to add to other summer dishes. Lighter than pesto, so it absorbs better into whatever you’re making.  Also, let’s be honest: Sometimes I’m a little cheap to make pesto.  Pine nuts are pricey so this is a solid alternative to pesto and not as rich.

Great to use with:

  • Roasted potatoes
  • Pork chops
  • Grilled bone-in chicken breasts
  • Tossed in a cold quinoa salad
  • Salad dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
  • juice from ½ a lemon (add more if you want it to be more tart)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • s&p

Put all of the ingredients, except olive oil, into food processor and mix.  Once blended, add olive oil.  If you want it to be more liquid thank thick (less like pesto and more like salad dressing), add more olive oil and white wine vinegar and less cheese.

Other Great Uses for the Mini Food Processor:

Hummus

hummus

Pesto for pasta or pizza

pesto pizza

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Posted in advice, Atlanta, meals, product on April 2nd, 2010 by Betsy – 6 Comments

Last fall I mentioned that the Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field was introducing a gluten-free concession stand.  Well, good news, folks!  The gluten-free treats will be returning to Turner Field for the Braves’ 2010 season.

redbridge

Thanks to my friend, Jonathan, for sending this article by Tiffany James of the GF Examiner, my way.  The article gives more details about the gluten-free stand and a photo of last year’s GF stand.  The Braves’ season opens on April 6th so head to the stadium and support Aramark’s efforts to provide gluten-free options for Braves’ sports fans.  Enjoy Redbridge Beer, as well as chicken sandwiches and hot dogs with gluten-free buns.  Let me know if you’ve tried the food at Turner Field and what you think of the various GF options.  It’s always nice to have a cold beer at a baseball game, right?   This warm weather is perfect for going to a ball game.  Anyone interested?

Gluten-Free Discoveries Around Town

Posted in advice, Atlanta, baking, GF product, product on March 16th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

When I heard Anne Palmer, program director for Johns Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future, speak at the Georgia Organics Conference a few weeks ago, she showed photos of all of the random places that sell food.  Think about it for a second…why does Petco sell soda?  Why does Office Depot offer an array of M&Ms and Starburst?  No one ventures out to Staples looking for a Diet Coke.  These items placed carefully at the front of the store are what we refer to in the Metcalf house as ‘impulse buys.’

I must say though, I enjoyed seeing Palmer’s photos of brightly packaged food in the oddest places.  I loved picturing her carrying her camera everywhere, waiting to photograph a random shelf of ‘food.’  I couldn’t help but think about my endless searches through stores for any gluten-free products.  In my own travls, or just around town, I scour any food store, airport, bakery, or restaurant for a possible GF treat.  Anyone who has traveled with me knows that I’m more interested in shopping at natural markets than clothing boutiques.

targetgf

When my friend, Anne, sent me the photo above, I was also reminded of Palmer’s photo slide show.  Of course I’m much happier about the shelf of food displayed in the picture because it’s all gluten-free.  No, Anne didn’t find this plethora of GF items at Pet Smart or 7-Eleven, but she did find it at…Target!  The Atlantic Station Target now sells quite the selection of gluten-free products, including my favorite pretzels by Glutino, Bob’s Red Mill GF oats, and the Betty Crocker baking mixes.  I can’t wait to go stock up.

Does your Target sell gluten-free items yet?  Feel free to send me any of your discoveries of unlikely spots where you find GF items.  We all need a little guidance as we navigate the gluten-free world!

Target at Atlantic Station – 1375 18th Street – Atlanta, Georgia 30363