Thursday, June 28, 2012

Three Things Thursday

This Three Things Thursday is brought to you by the face of the sun, which is what it currently feels like in Chicago.

1. If you are looking for an engrossing, fun summer read ... don't pick up Fifty Shades of Grey, because if you have any respect for the English language, you will want to pitch the freakin' thing against a wall. Poorly written, terribly inconsistent characters, and only *slightly* masked fan fiction - seriously. Sigh. Off my soapbox now.

2. Make sure you stop by Red Apple Lipstick's Facebook page to help name their new eye shadows. There may be a freebie in it for you. And also, if you are anything like me and had a childhood dream of getting to name Crayolas, this might be as close as you get.

3. Since I have tomorrow off work, I am looking forward to a day of poolside bliss. I'm going to need some summery noshes, anyone have any beachy-type food suggestions?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The One Where I Don't Have to Give Up Coffee

Hey, 'member that time I was all like "leaky gut, waaah, restricted diet, boo-hoo?"

Totes not going to happen.

My doc appointment Monday went swimmingly. Except the part when I nearly burst into tears of relief (and how I know I've got a good doctor? Instead of awkwardly ignoring the fact that I am mid-meltdown, she simply hugged me and told me I was doing great).

Basically, what it boils down to is that celiac is a son-of-a-gun that doesn't just magically heal overnight because you've stopped stuffing your face with doughnuts (and stuff my face I did. America, and Alissa, ran on Dunkin'). She told me random aches and pains are to be expected while recovering. And if I'm tired a lot? Guess what. It's because I HAVE AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE.

Needless to say I went directly to my nearest grocer and loaded up on things that were strictly verboten on the "leaky gut" plan. Never, ever did I think I would be so excited about the prospect of eating tomatoes and corn.

The second thing I did? Get a giant coffee. Huge. Ginormous.

And you know what? It felt pretty freakin' good.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pity, Party of One

Oh, hi.

Fancy meeting you here. No, I wasn't, uh, avoiding you or anything.

Except I sort of was.

I try to treat this blog as a humorous way to chart my path through this gluten-free lifestyle. I know, sometimes it's a little Suzy Sunshine-y, all sparkly with reviews of delicious food and fun products. But the truth is, some days celiac sucks, this lifestyle sucks, and I don't feel like pretending it doesn't.

I don't feel like being funny right now. I feel like being furious. Or frustrated. Or overwhelmed. Funny doesn't really fit in there.

I haven't been glutened. Physically, I feel fine. A little tired, but other than that, pretty darn good. I do feel like I've been emotionally glutened, though.

Not sure what triggered this onslaught of self-pity, but I think it started after my trip to the nutritionist last week. Essentially she told me that she thinks I need to start repairing what she believes is Leaky Gut, and the diet for that is pretty ridiculous. It makes a straight-up just gluten-free diet look like a (GF) cakewalk. Seriously, we are talking eliminating just about all grains, plus sugar and caffeine, as well as dairy (which I have mostly cut out already), soy, corn, nightshades (things like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes) and acidic fruits. Oh, and nuts. And legumes. WTH am I supposed to eat? The nutritionist suggested I look for veggies I've never had, like kohlrabi, and while I am not entirely sure what it is, it sounds exotic and expensive, two things that don't put it in my favor. Plus this "treatment plan" comes with the added bonus of having something called medical food powder that I have to choke down twice a day. It has the smell of goldfish food flakes, and tastes pretty much like I imagine the insides of my dad's work boots do.

I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with my GI specialist, who I refer to as my fairy godmother, to see if all this is really necessary. If it is, I have a long road ahead of me.

Anyway, I know it's a bit whiny, and I promise to reach through the Internet and slap the first person who tells me "yeah, but at least you don't have (fill in the blank with horrifying illness)." But I just wanted to let everyone know why I've been pretty much AWOL except for Thursdays for the past few weeks. I don't want to bring everyone down, so I was prescribing to the school of thought where if I didn't have anything nice to say, I just shut the heck up. Hopefully soon we'll get this straightened out. In the mean time, I have to go look up what kohlrabi is.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three Things Thursday

It's Thursday again, ladies and gents, and that means it's time for everyone's favorite game show. Three! Things! Thursday!

1. In the continuing saga of "Words I Never Thought I'd Utter," thanks to the gorgeousness that is summer farmers markets, I have embarked on a love affair with locally sourced honey. I want to kick my own butt for saying that, but the local stuff just tastes so much honey-ier than the commercial counterpart. Plus, rumor has it that the local type can alleviate seasonal allergies. So bring it on.

2. My mom wins 500 bonus points for surprising me with Sweet Ali's salted caramel cupcakes after a particularly nasty day this week. I know you shouldn't eat for emotional reasons, but man, Sweet Ali's really made a crap day less craptacular. Also, if you are in Chicago, even if you aren't gluten free, you should really try their stuff. Luke swears their icing is the best he's ever had.

3. We're already nearing the end of June (?!?) and I haven't yet killed ANY of my plants. New personal record.
 (Someone small and furry photobombed me.
 I guess she was sad she hadn't made a blog appearance in a couple of weeks.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Gluttons: Mon Ami Gabi

Whew. I am a little late on posting this one, but alas, it's been a looooong and busy couple of weeks. Mostly in a good way. But not always.

Our super-classy self-photo in the bathroom of the W.
One of the good-busy things I had going on was a magnificent trip into downtown Chicago to celebrate four years of marital bliss. Even though we live in the suburbs, only about 45 minutes from the heart of the city, we don't make it in very often, because traffic is usually a nightmare and parking typically runs about as much as a BA from a private university (and those are expensive. Trust me on this one.). We try to do at least one weekend a year where we get a nice hotel, find a great restaurant and live like tourists. We didn't do that at all last year, so I was psyched when Luke surprised me by getting a room at the W hotel for our anniversary trip ... which also happened to be the same weekend as Printers Row Lit Fest, a booksplosion my little librarian heart has been aching to attend for years. He also made us reservations for Mon Ami Gabi, a French bistro-style restaurant with a rep for being very gluten-free friendly.

After wandering around Printers Row all afternoon and skipping lunch in favor of a quick snack of Sweet Ali's banana bread, we were both famished by the time our cab got us to the restaurant on the North Side. Luke had told them we would both be gluten free when he made the reservation, so the hostess had the GF menu ready for us when we got there. They also presented us with some gluten-free bread. It came with an olive tapenade (olives are another thing I hated pre-GF that I apparently like now) and was pretty darn delicious. They toasted it up and it tasted like REAL bread.

For appetizers, we couldn't choose between duck confit and French onion soup, so we got, um, both (no judging, it was our anniversary). I have never been a huge fan of duck, but after discovering the duck tacos at Glen Prairie, I had to give confit a chance. I am glad I did. It was awesome. The skin was crispy, but the meat was soooooo buttery and delightful. I would have ordered it as an entree if I had the choice. It was hard not to lick the plate. The soup was great, too. I used to hate onions (seriously? Did I like anything besides cereal and pizza?), but I had to try the soup since I had read rave reviews. I'm still not crazy about the texture of cooked onions (or raw ones for that matter), but the sweetness of the cooked onions with the saltiness of the GF crouton and cheese just melted together so well. I only muscled down about half of it, because they practically bring you a toureen of soup, and we still had the entree to go.

Luke and I were split on entrees. We both wanted scallops. We both wanted steak. So we split the two. The scallops were served over a ratatouille, which I wanted to love, but it was only "meh." The scallops themselves were cooked perfectly, but I could not have eaten the whole plate of them. I think my limit might be two scallops. Preferably wrapped in bacon (these were not). The steak was good quality, cooked medium, but not anywhere near the best steak I've had in the city (that would be Capital Grille, hands down one hundred times). It could have been that we filled up on appetizers, but I thought the entrees were about a B+. Not that we let that stop us from eating everything.

My greatest mistake of the evening was ordering dessert. You can't go to a French restaurant and NOT order creme brulee. Especially if you are me. But I was so full ... and it was sooooo hot out. I cleaned my dessert plate and ended up paying for it later.
Creme brulee, why can't I quit you?
Despite my overindulgence, I would definitely go to Mon Ami Gabi again. They have a suburban location that is waaaaay easier for us to get to, and I probably wouldn't go for like ten courses next time, but they were incredibly accommodating for the gluten free thing. Our waiter even figured out how to adapt the specials, or if we could have certain sauces. I still think Glen Prairie is my pony for special events, but I am really glad we gave Mon Ami Gabi a shot. C'est si bonne (that's mangled French for "it is so good.")

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Three Things Thursday

I know, I keep promising fabulous posts. They are coming, really. Soon. Ish.

1. I have an out-of-town party this weekend that I am sorta nervous about. Restaurant dinner at a place I can't really vet? Plus drinks at multiple locations? So. Many. Variables. But, as Maid of Honor for my friend's wedding, I pretty much just have to put on my big girl pants and hope for the best.

2. I made fresh salsa with cilantro and tomatoes from my own garden this week. I felt very awesome and chef-y.

3. Jose Cuervo pre-made margaritas are gluten free, according to their Web site. It's been the kind of week where one or two is needed, so peace out cub scouts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RAL Winner!

Okay, in a totally scientific fashion (read: using paper scraps and a coffee can), I had an impartial party (read: unsuspecting coworker) pull a winner for the Red Apple Lipstick giveaway. I am happy to announce that mjdolce won!

Thank you all for participating, and stay tuned for more fun on the ol' blogaroo this week!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Howdy, blogosphere. Short post because it's my anniversary and I'd rather be spending time with my hubby than the Interwebs.

1. Like I said above. Anniversary today. Four years ago, Luke and I got hitched. It's been an eventful few years, and I can't imagine facing it without my darling husband. I know. Awwww.

2. We're trying Mon Ami Gabi Saturday night for our big anniversary dinner. Super psyched because their GF offerings are supposed to be both extensive and yummy.

3. Go enter my Red Apple Lipstick giveaway. You have until Sunday!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Re-stocking the Old Arsenal

Ugh. I have had so many wonderful things I wanted to write about the past few days, but something got me over the weekend (I'm looking at you, Cooper's Hawk), so when I haven't been sucking it up and working, I have been laying on my couch watching too much cooking reality TV (welcome back, Hell's Kitchen, I missed yoooooou).

But I did want to come and rave about the beauty that is the Wilton tent sale. I mentioned last week that I would be visiting over the weekend, and sure enough, bright and early Saturday morning, my mom and my sis and I headed out. Little background: Wilton Industries produces just about any baking/cooking/caking/crafting type device in the world, ever. They stock them all over the place, everywhere from Wal-Mart to Hobby Lobby. And once a year, they take all their goodies, throw them in a tent for a fraction of the retail price, and open their doors to the public. Essentially, the Wilton tent sale is the closest thing to the lawless Old West in existence. There are no rules, but lots of clearance cake pans, so it's worth fighting the mob.

This year, I was particularly excited, because I needed to replace lots of my old baking stuff. Before going GF, I looooooooved to bake, and now that I am navigating my way through the world of non-wheat flours, I'm ready to try again. But all my stuff is all floury, and wheaty, and brings up unpleasantness that shouldn't be associated with delicious, delicious treats, so I went into the sale armed with a list. I planned on sticking to the list. I ... immediately threw the list out the window. This was my haul:

(Pardon the crummy quality. I promise, none of the items are fuzzy. Yet)

I picked up all the things I wanted: New cookie sheets, brownie pan, the elusive spring-form pan, a couple of loaf pans.
I also caved and bought a few ramekins for creme brulee (which I have never made), some GINORMOUS muffin pans, a  new silicon baking sheet and about a thousand muffin cups (leopard print! polka dot! Obviously this will make the muffins taste better!), plus some other odds and ends. The good thing is that now I can bake again. The bad thing is that now that I have purchased ALLL this stuff ... I have to bake again. We have a small kitchen with limited storage, and Luke wasn't so thrilled as I was about the load I brought home (I will too make creme brulee, and when I do YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY).

I grabbed a new GF cookbook of just baked goods a few weeks ago. One of these days, I may have to start a-bakin' again.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Red Apple Lipstick Review, Giveaway and Vlog!

Hi kids! Thought I'd try something different and do a video review of Red Apple Lipstick to espouse my love for them - check out the video, but watch 'til the end for some great giveaway goodness!