visiting friends; the gluten-free guest

"brown paper packages tied up with string... these are a few of my favourite things!"

Gluten-free gifts are not typically wrapped in butcher paper - I thought that this one deserved special mention. 

Angela, who is a gluten-free gal 99% of the time, will occasionally partake in a stuffed chicken breast containing bread crumbs. She knew, however, that I did not have the same flexibility. So this weekend, when hitting the butcher in prep for my visit to their cottage, Angela picked up a couple of chicken skewers that the butcher could assure were safe. Don't you just love that they were waiting in the fridge when I arrived with my name on them? 

Never mind that there were also homemade gf breakfast bars presented with my tea upon arrival on Saturday morning and that lunch included mini pizza's served on rice paper wraps. I've said it many times here... friends show me the greatest affection through these gluten-free gifts. Thank you Angela!!

Check out this later post for more practical information on this topic HERE.  

Check out a post on an invitation to dinner at the home of someone you've only just met HERE



gluten-free barbeque: fresh seasonal corn!

corn season is coming!
Corn is an omnipresent ingredient in much processed food - from starch to syrup. It even makes up part of the packaging in which you buy your corn flakes... and it's used to manufacture various types of plastic. Doesn't sound too appetizing, I know.

In addition to the food processing world, Monsanto has altered farming practices and grains at a cellular level to the point that I can't help but wonder whether this is one of the reasons we are seeing such a spike in food intolerance. At the risk of never wanting to eat anything for the rest of your life, google Monsanto if you want to know more.

For SO MANY  reasons, I believe it is important to support local farmers who are using sustainable practices wherever possible. This means eating fresh food when it is in season.

Alessandra and I on her last visit from Rome
Corn season is short in Canada, but when it comes, it is sheer heaven. Crunchy and sweet - best cooked on the grill. Cut off the kernels from leftover grilled corn on the cob and add it to salads. We like to add it to black beans with chilies and coriander. Another favorite is Bill's baby potato,  corn and pesto salad. Simply mix said ingredients to make up a hearty seasonal summer dish!


gluten-free loving kindness

lee's rendition of william & claudine
This weekend my dear friend Lee married a lovely fella named Dave. Their ceremony was moving, and their reception was stylish, fresh and and full of love. The radiant bride had considered every detail, delighting all of their guests. 

About a month earlier, Lee had made a gorgeous wedding cake for Bill and I. This was a delivery on a promise that she had made to me many, many years ago. When she announced that she'd make me a gluten-free wedding cake. I'd had to remind her that I didn't even have a boyfriend at the time. 

The cake was presented at a house party we had weeks after we were wed. It was spectacular - and delicious, seriously impressing all of our guests. Lee had made the cake pictured on the right panel of this blog for my 40th. Our friends still talk about that cake. The girl knows how to bake. I was so moved by the love that Lee had put into this gift for us. 

Back to Lee & Dave's wedding. The dinner plates are being cleared,  when a young man places a chocolate cupcake in front of me. I looked up at him and say "Oh, thank you but I can't have that" - practically waving it away. He asked if I was the lady who ate gluten free. I said I was, and remembering Lee's attention to detail, I thought that perhaps there was some fruit put aside for me. Nope.

gf cupcake photo courtesy of Sharon :)
Not only was this cupcake for me, it turns out that the bride had baked it herself. It was made from the gluten-free batter from the wedding cake that she had made for us just weeks before and frozen in anticipation of this evening. I could have wept. 

"gluten free gift" was given it's name because I often think that the most profound acts of kindness I have experienced have been related to people taking care of me with food. This was a gift, and a memory that I will always cherish as part of Lee & Dave's beautiful wedding. Grazie mille Lee!


gluten in alcohol

detail from print by claudine crangle
The misinformation out there on alcohol can make you dizzier than downing a mickey of rum. To start, I'll share that that said rum would be gluten free. Actually, anything purely "distilled" is a safe bet. Yep - even if that vodka was made from wheat. Distilled alcohol does not contain particles large enough to carry the gluten protein. Drink up Johnny. 

There are two different processes for making alcohol: fermentation and distillation. very simply put, fermentation is the addition of yeast to sugar (like grapes). Yeast acts on sugar, creating carbon dioxide and alcohol. Beer and wine are both made this way.

Distillation is the addition of an enzyme to starch, which creates sugar. Yeast is then added, and the result is fermented alcohol. The liquid containing this alcohol is then heated. The alcohol, which contains very small molecules, evaporates faster than the other liquid in the vat. The actual grains used to make this product are protein molecules too large to evaporate with the alcohol. So the grain remains in the "mash" or mush left at the bottom of the vat. The result is pure alcohol with none of the characteristics of the product from which in originated. To this end, a distiller of vodka could use corn one year and wheat the next and his product will not change. Gin is made in the same manner, but what makes it different from vodka is an infusion of herbs and flavorings. 

The reason it's important to note the difference between these two processes is because in fermentation, the ingredients all go into the bottle. In distillation, only the vapors from the ingredients go into the bottle. These molecules are not carrying any of the grains made to use the by-product. It's been suggested that the quantity of gluten left after the distillation process is so minute you'd have to drink a barrel of it to experience any side effects. I suspect you'd have bigger problems than a gluten reaction!

All this said, I'm a wine drinker. Not a fussy one. I just like wine. Oh, and Campari. big fan. That Campari is a "fortified" wine beverage - meaning it has distilled alcohol in it too.

I get it if you still aren't sure. Check with the distributor of your favorite booze if you want a second opinion - I got mine from a meeting with an expert from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I interviewed him for my book (much of what I've posted here is an excerpt of Living Well with Celiac Disease). 

Oh, and I'd be remiss not to mention all of the new gluten-free beers on the market... no need to go without anymore! Isn't it shocking that alcohol can be so widely distributed without an ingredients listing? It's no wonder everyone is so confused.