Thanks Chef Ramsey….

Intense, assertive and talented, Chef Gordon Ramsey is one of the world’s most famous chefs. As a devoted fan, I have watched every episode of Kitchen Nightmare’s (both U.S. and UK versions), the F-Word and Master Chef as soon as they are available on-line.  He has inspired millions of people to go back into the kitchen or at the very least appreciate food more.

I have learned a great deal from watching his programs. They have even inspired me to go back into the kitchen and create, again. Now, my desserts can be found at a local cafe.  Gluten free doesn’t have to mean taste free. If you watch cooking programs you will find that a lot of dishes don’t require ingredients that contain wheat or grains.  And they actually taste better.

As a home baker, I use a flour that is non-wheat based. True, my tasty treats won’t be as inexpensive as those made with wheat flour; still I challenge most folks to taste the difference. My neighbors have been my guinea pigs for the past six months.  They had no idea that the cookies and cakes they were eating were gluten free.  They weren’t shocked nor have they refused more baked delights.

Lemon-Raspberry Cake

On  a day to day basis, I don’t eat the way I used too. It just isn’t practical to eat fast food or carbs when they cause you pain. It may be cheaper, but it certainly isn’t healthier.  Cooking at home saves money and as well as my tummy. Chef Ramsey’s programs have helped me to see that I don’t have to spend a lot of money or make things complicated to enjoy good food.  Dying to try my own pan seared scallops among other items.

Ramsey doesn’t hold back on the majority of his shows. He tells you how it is and expects the people he works to rise to the occasion.  No excuses, just do your best and work on making it better. It is great lesson for life outside the kitchen. Too many times in the classroom, I face students who use excuses as a shield to remain as they are. It is easier for them, but horrible for their futures.

Come to think of it, I have been making a lot of excuses when it comes to my writing and why a certain novella, Blood Child, hasn’t been finished. Time to get back to work …and expect more out of myself.

Plan Q

Plans are meant to be adapted and changed.  This week I wanted to spend a lot of time working on Blood Child, a short story turned novella, about the tenth anniversary of a bloody massacre and its’ only survivor. Life, however, had other tasks in mind for this week.

My body and mind are still craving rest and rejuvenation. The majority of my time this past week has been spend reading, napping and repeating.

Monday was a blur after physical therapy.  I remember baking both lemon and chocolate cake layers and prepping the ones.  The cake was finished on Tuesday after waking up from some extremely bizarre dreams.  It took some work to get the icing just right. In the end, the cake had two different icings. One was smooth and creamy. The other was sweet.  The entire cake was gluten free. Most of the folks who ordered it loved it and weren’t gluten intolerant.

Wednesday, my life changed dramatically.  After PT, I took my mother to the doctor and then headed out to my friend’s farm to see about adopting a dog named Luke.  Mike and his wife, Shawna, are two of my favorite people.  The chance to visit them was a delight.

Luke came to live with them after his parents discovered that they were expecting; so with a heavy heart they sought out a new home for him. Three dogs and a baby wasn’t made into a movie for a reason.

Farm life and Luke just didn’t mix. His story will be posted next Monday.

Thursday and Friday, Luke, the kitties and I were adjusting to life together.  It has been an amazing experience for all involved.  The entire week I have been trying to decide what cake or desert to make for the cafe down the street.  It has always been a secret dream of mine to have my food served in a restaurant.

Saturday, I worked my second job which blessedly allows me to work on other projects. I finished putting together all the boxes left to me by the sales department then set to work on lesson plans for the first semester.  I finished nearly all the plans for one of my classes and started on the to-do list for Blood Child.

Saturday night, I wrote my bike up to a local event and read cards for three hours.  I earned enough money to pay for my therapy appointments for the week and had a chance to catch up with an old friend over a glass of wine.  I had been feeling off balance prior to the event but when my friend departed all was good.

Today, I felt lost and didn’t do much beyond straightening the house up and going to the store.  On the way back, I decided to stop by the cafe and see how the cake had been selling.  It was just what I needed.

There is just one piece left in the case as well as a special request for my chocolate zucchini cake.  Months ago, I had dropped off a sample of the cake for the owners.

Some friends of mine were there so I was the recipient of numerous hugs and kisses.  One of the fellows introduced me to his new beau and traded a hair cut for a tarot reading. There will be new and fabulous hair for the start of the new school year.

I don’t feel bad about falling behind on my goals because my energy was needed elsewhere this week.  Back to the writing grind this week.  Thank you as always for your support.

What no Wheat? How do you live?

It sounds trite to say that life is a journey, but that is exactly what it is to me.  I view my life as a series of journeys to different points of understanding.  One of my current journeys is one that reaches to the core of who were are as human beings, how we deal with food.

Six years ago, a beautiful baby boy came into my life.  He was six pounds and some odd ounces with blond hair and blue eyes.  Robert became sick and wasn’t gaining weight. A photograph of him as a baby sitting in a serving bowl on the kitchen table with a look of resignation on his infant face spoke volumes to me. For Robbie, food was not friendly and not life sustaining. He is still smaller than most kids his age.

I spoke to my sister often and she described the terrible things the little guy was going through.  Robbie was suffering daily and finally the doctor put him on a very restricted diet. Nearly everything was taken out only to be reintroduced one food at a time.

Food…the very same food, I ate as a baby, was hurting my nephew and as it turns out his mother.  My sister, his beautiful mother, discovered that she was a Celiac.  The diagnosis seemed to be the answer to so many things, especially, why my sister suffered so many illnesses and headaches.  It also came at the same time that she discovered another truth, she had Asperger’s Syndrome.

Another diagnosis and more questions answered.   But, that is her story… her journey.   Robbie was also diagnosed as a Celiac.  Thus my family was introduced to the world of gluten free cooking.  Words like cross-contaminated and dextrose became common place in our homes.

Three years down the line, I ordered a pizza.  My Friday night treat and the next day, I felt like well…like poop.  It wasn’t the first Saturday; I spent feeling like I had been run over by my own stomach.  Fatigue had been an issue for me for years. Weeks would go by when it seemed that I couldn’t get enough sleep.

Pasta, my ideal comfort food, only made me feel worse. The fatigue didn’t go away and for the first time I was also feeling bloated.  My symptoms were very similar to my Celiac friends.    So I decided to go without wheat for a week and then a month.

I felt better that first week and in the next month, I was still tired, but there was a remarkable change in my energy level.  Still I was reluctant to get tested for Celiac Disease since my sister had told me it would involve having a colonoscopy.  So I delayed and delayed getting tested and doing my best to avoid the dreaded gluten.

Three, almost four years, later, I finally got tested (a nice painless blood test) and discovered that I am not a Celiac.  I was sure that it would come out positive and strangely I was disappointed. I thought when getting the test that it would validate my choice to eat gluten free.  Then I looked up gluten intolerance and discovered that this fit me.

When I spoke to my doctor, he was non-committal on the issue and basically said that if not eating wheat or gluten made me feel better than do it. I compare it to the old joke about the man who went to the doctor and said “Doc, when I do this, it hurts.” The doctor responded then “Don’t do that!!”

It hurts to eat gluten so I don’t do it. All of this brings me to the door step of my current journey: living a gluten-free.  I live just fine without wheat in my diet.  I will be sharing some of the tasty treats I now enjoy in my gluten free blog; which will coming out soon.