25 October 2009

cheese fest

I run so I can eat cheese. 

Last night we didn't just eat cheese, we celebrated it. The Belgian community organized a feast of European cheeses and cold meats, like parma ham and hard salamis. It was phenomenal. We met some friends, shared some wine, and ate all the cheese we could. Most of the cheeses were soft, like brie and the most amazing chevre I've ever had. High-quality soft cheeses are hard to find here and expensive when you do find them, so a whole table piled high with them was quite a sight. 

I unfortunately forgot to bring my own crackers or bread so watched the others indulge in artisan breads while I picked at my cheese with a fork. Of course it wasn't the same, but I did what I had to. When it comes to cheese, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

Image from Jupiter Images.

23 October 2009

spicy thai beef salad

My run yesterday morning was fueled by the spicy thai beef salad I had for dinner the night before. I'm not an early morning eater. In order to run before the heat of the day sets in, I wake up at 5:30 to be out the door before 6:00. I'm awake long before my stomach is. Regardless of the length of my run, the most I can eat that early is about half a Lara bar, and most days I don't even eat that, I just drink a little water. I must rely on my dinner the night before to get me through the run.

I've become very particular of those pre-running dinners. In the old days, when I was in college and high school, I could pretty much eat anything and go running at any time. Not anymore.

That's where beef salad comes in. I can't go wrong with high protein and tons of veggies. We have a fresh pineapple juice here--simply juice, no sugar or anything else added--which is a nice, sweet complement to a healthy meal.

I wish I could take credit for this salad. While in Europe a few months ago we bought some French-language cookbooks for our cook. He actually doesn't read very well, but he can take a list of ingredients and turn it into something yummy like nobody's business. The salad is courtesy of him and a French-language Thai food cookbook. The ingredients are strips of beef, tender and rare, tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, sometimes basil, crushed red pepper, garlic and a soy sauce dressing. (I brought tons of the San-J wheat-free soy sauce with us.) It's served cold.

21 October 2009

halloween candy

It's the time of year for candy. It's everywhere you look and it's too tempting to say no every time. But some of us have to say no to certain treats. There's just no getting around it. 

Gluten-free candy lists have been circulating the 'net and I think they should be repeated. I've combined lists from different sources and added some of my favorite chocolates that hadn't been included. (References are at the bottom of the post.)

Halloween isn't the only time for candy. Christmas and Valentine's Day will soon follow. We'll be dodging candy landmines for the next several months.

Remember, ingredients and labeling change. And many products have warning labels saying that facilities or equipment may be shared with wheat products. It is up to you to read labels, contact manufacturers, and decide for yourself if you want to eat these products or not. Also note that many candies contain nuts, soy-based products, and other allergens. I have not noted them below.

Airheads Bars regular and sour
Airheads Pops
Whistle Pops

Cadbury Adams
Swedish Fish
Sour Patch Soft and Chewy Candy Kids

Ce De Candy
Bubble Gum Smarties
Candy Money
Smarties in a Pouch
Tropical Smarties
X-TREME Sour Smarties
Smarties Parties, Double Lollies, Mega Lollies, and Pops

Boo x2 Chocolate Ghosts
BinGo! Divvine Chocolate Bar
Benjamint Crunch Bar
Halloween Jelly Beans

Enjoy Life
Boom CHOCO Boom Dark Chocolate Bar
Boom CHOCO BoomCrispy Rice Bar
Boom CHOCO Boom Milk Bar

Fannie May
all candy bars
English Toffee
all solid chocolate novelties
Hostess Mints
Apricot Bon Bons
Apricot Cream
Assorted Nuts, Cashews, Chocolate & Pastel Meltaways
Chocolate Toffee
Chocolate Wafers
Citrus Peel
Dark Filbert Clusters
Irish Toffee
Ivory & Chocolate Bark
Milk & Dark Almond Clusters
Milk & Dark Walnut Clusters
Milk Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
Pastel Toffee
Pastel Wafers
Peanut Clusters

Farley's and Sather's
Super Bubble and Super Bubble Blast
Rain-Blo Pops
Atomic Fireball
Trolli Gummi Bears
Trolli Sour Brite (Frite) Crawlers
Now and Later regular
Now and Later Soft
Jujyfruits and Friends (Heide candies)

Ferrara Pan
Chewy Atomic Fireballs
Red Hots
Chewy Lemonhead and Friends
Applehead, Grapehead, Cherryhead

Milk Chocolate Bars
Milk Duds
Heath Minis
Kisses, Special Dark Kisses
Almond Joy
Mr. Goodbar
Baby Ruth
Jolly Rancher Hard Candy and Hard Candy Sticks
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Jelly Belly
Jelly Beans

Just Born
Mike & Ike
Hot Tamales
Peeps Marshmallow Candies
Peanut Chew Brand candies,
Teenee Beanee Jelly Beans and
Just Born Jelly Beans

Mars and Wrigley
M & Ms Plain
M & Ms Peanut
3 Musketeers
Skittles and Skittles Sour
Lifesavers Hard Candy, Pops, and Gummies
Hubba Bubba Gum, Glop, Max, Pop
Wrigley's Spearmint gum
Freedent gum
Doublemint gum
Extra gum
Big Red gum
Eclipse gum
Juicy Fruit gum
Winterfresh gum
Orbit and Orbit White gum
Altoids Mints, Sours, and Gum

Milk Chocolate bar
Milk Chocolate with Chopped Hazelnuts bar
Milk Chocolate with Cream Filling bar
Chocolate Dessert bar
Milk and White Chocolate Cow Spots bar

Oh Henry
Butterfinger (not Butterfinger Crisp)
Baby Ruth
Nips Regular and Sugar Free
Treasures, including Treasures Bars

Necco Wafers
Mary Janes
Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
Sweethearts Conversation Hearts (Valentines only)
Canada Mint & Wintergreen Lozenges
Haviland Thin Mints and Candy Stix
Clark Bars
Haviland Peppermint & Wintergreen Patties
Necco Candy Eggs (Easter)
Talking Pumpkins (Halloween)
Squirrel Nut Caramels and Squirrel Nut Zippers
Banana Split and Mint Julep Chews

Ritter Sport
Alpine Milk Chocolate bar
Dark Milk Chocolate bar
Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts bar
Milk Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts bar

Dum Dums
Chewy Pops
Circus Peanuts

Surf Sweets
Gummy Worms, Swirls, and Bears
Fruity Bears
Jelly Beans
Sour Worms
Sour Berry Bears

Charleston Chew, including minis
Charms Blow Pops and Flat Pops
Dots, including Bat Dots, Candy Corn Dots and Ghost Dots
Tootsie Pops
Tootsie Rolls
Tootsie Fruit Rolls
Junior Mints and Inside Outs
Junior Caramels
Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum
Sugar Babies
Sugar Babies Caramel Apple
Sugar Daddy

Gobstopper, Everlasting and Chewy
Runts and Runts Chewy
Fun Dip, Fun Dip Sour
Pixy Stix
Sweetarts (regular), Chew, Giant Chewy, Mini Chew, Chewy Twists, and Shockers
Tart N Tinys and Tart N Tinys Chew
Laffy Taffy, Rope, and Stretchy and Tangy

Yummy Earth
Candy Drop
Gummy Bears
Gummy Worms

Some popular treats that do contain gluten:
Airheads Xtremes Rolls
Annabelle’s Rocky Road
Kit Kat
Hershey Miniatures in bulk bags
Milky Way
Butterfinger Crisp
Nestle Crunch
Sweetarts Gummy Bugs
Sweetarts Rope
Rice Krispy Treats


Image from Jupiter Images.

18 October 2009

carrot cake with sweet cream butter

When our cook put this down on the table many thoughts went through my head. Carrot cake? How did he spontaneously learn how to make carrot cake? We've lived here over a year and no carrot cake. But one of the first American recipes I taught him was banana bread--with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour substitute of course--and he came up with the carrot idea after leafing through my Martha Stewart magazines. 

Then I got excited over the marscapone cheese on top. I'd imported some from South Africa and been trying to explain to our cook that it's sort of like a dessert cheese, un frommage douce, that's good with fruit. I was impressed with his initiative to put it on cake. (We've never fully adjusted to having a cook and having to give him direction. We rely on him to read our minds sometimes.)

But when I tasted a little bit of the "cheese" it was less sweet and more greasy than I expected it to be. Mike agreed. It turned out to be sweet cream butter. Genius! Carrot cake with thick, fresh, creamy butter. It was quite a large pat so I only spread about half of it on my slices of cake. I run so I can eat things like creamy fresh butter, but I do have my limits.

I'm exhausted today so I just plan to do some yoga. We went on a long, mountainous hike yesterday and my abs are still a little sore from my Friday workout. Lately I have not been successful in bringing my mileage up to a good base to start a half marathon training plan. I'm starting the running regime fresh tomorrow. 

15 October 2009

olympic marathoner with celiac disease

Women's Running has an article that opens with the story of an Olympic marathon runner who has celiac disease, Eat Like a Pro.
Amy Yoder-Begley won her first state track title in the 3200 meters as a sophomore at East Noble High School in Kendallville, Ind., in 1994. Two years later, she could barely run at all...

“I had no energy,” recalls the now- 30-year-old who represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon. “I had stomach aches, anemia, hypothyroidism, severe GI problems and dehydration during running and osteopenia.”

She was shuttled back and forth to doctors for months before she received a definitive diagnosis of celiac disease, an intestinal autoimmune disorder that is triggered by gluten, a protein in cereal grains. Gluten-containing foods were removed from Yoder-Begley’s diet, and “within three weeks all of my symptoms went away,” she says.
Well there's my inspiration for the day. I certainly don't aspire to be in the Olympics any time soon, but I have no excuses for not getting up and racking up a few miles several times a week.

This morning my run was sluggish. I'm trying to eat a little before I go out, but I wake up so early my stomach's not awake yet. I wasn't as hungry as I usually am throughout the day on a running day, either. I just feel off. But, I guess even Olympians can feel that way sometimes.

13 October 2009

gluten-free pantry favorite sandwich bread

Lately my favorite post-run snack has been toast with peanut butter. On a work day I eat one slice right away and bring another with me to snack on later in the morning. On other days I lounge about, eating my peanut butter toast at a leisurely pace whilst blogging and watching CNN.

I really like the Bob's Red Mill Wonderful Sandwich Bread mix but I'd been eating it for over a year with no other bread variety. I was sick of it. A few weeks ago I found a long-forgotten box of Gluten-Free Pantry Favorite Sandwich Bread Mix in my cupboard. Someone had sent it to me in a care package and since it was never really my favorite bread, I let it sit. But I was desperate for bread so I decided to give it another try.

And of course it was great, this second time around. The Bob's Red Mill bread mix is heavy and beany while the GF Pantry mix is lighter. I'm not a huge fan of white bread in general, but when I don't have other options, I'd like as light a bread as possible. 

In theory, making bread is easy. Add ingredients to bread machine and turn on. In practice, it actually takes me a little effort and one of the reasons I avoid it is my irrational resentment toward not being able to run out to the store and buy a loaf of bread like a normal person. Since my bread machine is for a 1.5-pound loaf but the GF Pantry mix is for a 2-pound loaf, I must halve the recipe. I also have to pray that the electricity stays on for the three consecutive hours necessary to run the machine nonstop. 

One adjustment that I make that I find not to be a chore, because it makes a difference in the quality of the bread, is the yeast preparation. I've found the yeast that's included in the mix is often flat, or else it's not even there. I learned a trick to yeast prepping that's been working quite well in my bread machine. Measure out the required amount of water and make sure it's warm. Then add the required amount of yeast with a small amount of honey. Do this before you start assembling the other ingredients. Just before you turn on the bread machine, add the yeast mixture. It should be foamy and smell deliciously yeasty. I've found that starting the yeast reaction early makes for a more successful loaf. (Maybe it's just my machine, but if your machine makes bread that hasn't risen enough, try this method.)

This morning I went running for the first time in about a week. I really need to get back on the road, but I couldn't make my bread. Which meant that I couldn't have my favorite snack. Which really affected me psychologically. I'm still trying to figure out combining the runner's diet with the celiac's diet.

Gluten-Free Pantry mixes are available online at GlutenFree.com and Amazon.com Groceries. They can often be found at Whole Foods and even mainstream grocery stores such as Safeway.

12 October 2009

oktoberfest bujumbura

For several years now, the small German community of Bujumbura has been hosting an Oktoberfest. This year's event was a few weeks ago, coinciding with Munich's Oktoberfest. Mike and I went for the second year in a row. It was even better than last year.

Last year we liked our dish, but didn't love it. This year we loved our food. We had the eisbein, which is a cured pig leg. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone. I'm not a huge sauerkraut fan, but I ate a little to be festive. Potatoes and lentils topped with crumbled bacon where on the side. (What goes better with cured pig leg than bacon? Yum!) 

Me and mein eisbein

They unfortunately didn't import any German beers, but they had the local Amstel on tap, which isn't always available here. And they did import a lovely German Gewürztraminer white wine. Staying away from beer, I was quite happy with my half-bottle of wine.

The simplest foods are made better with good friends. I can't remember the last time I stayed up so late enjoying myself with friends and food. 

It certainly was not one of the healthiest nights of my life. Between Oktoberfest and Lebowskifest, I've done very little running and very much eating and drinking of junk. I need to get back on the road and back on the fruit smoothies.

hain gluten-free products

Now through the end of October, select Hain gluten-free products are on sale at Amazon.com Groceries. Hain products include Arrowhead Mills cereals and baking mixes, Imagine soups, Rice Dreams and Soy Dreams milk, and DeBoles rice and corn pastas. 

The DeBoles rice pasta elbows with cheese is one of my favorite macaroni and cheese mixes. It's a white cheddar cheese mix and it's a neutral base that you can add seasonings and fresh shredded cheddar to mimic a baked macaroni and cheese.

Enter code HAINGF25 at checkout for 15 percent off, through 31 October. 

Image from Amazon.com

11 October 2009

white russians

Last night we had our much anticipated and much planned La Fete Lebowski, a celebration of all things Big Lebowski. We wore robes, we (Wii) bowled, we watched the film, and we made white russians, a drink with which no Lebowski celebration can be without.

We stockpiled vodka and Kahlua for months. When I traveled through Nairobi earlier this week I grabbed an additional bottle of each from the duty-free shop and it's a good thing, because we opened those last two bottles. They can both be purchased here but can be quite expensive and may not be top quality.

When making white russians in a country where  you can't run down to the Ralphs for some half-and-half, it's important to test your recipe ahead of time with the different milks you have available. As far as I'm concerned, white russians made from irradiated pouch milk are utterly disgusting. We decided to use our fresh milk source and everyone raved about how great our white russians were.

In a place where beverage options can be mind-numbingly limited at parties--Coke, Fanta, Primus, Fruito, Amstel grande and Amstel petite--expect that more people will choose to drink your signature drink than, well, you expect. We bought a lot of extra milk for the party and didn't think we'd go through it all. We assumed that the cream, sugar, and alcohol content would keep folks to one or two white russians each. (I certainly couldn't have had more than two without yakking.) But a novel beverage choice was extremely popular and by the time the movie ended we were out of milk; folks were adding dry milk powder, Lebowski-style, to straight Kahlua.

Mike and I took turns tending bar and used a simple, basic recipe:

1 part Kahlua
1 part vodka
1 part full-cream milk
over ice

Some people added additional splashes of their favorite ingredient.

Vodka and other distilled beverages are widely regarded as gluten-free. However, if you're unsure, find a potato-based vodka with no additives. Most sources state Kahlua as being gluten-free. (It sneakily contains dairy, which is what gives some people a reaction; however, if you're drinking white russians I certainly hope you are dairy-tolerant.)

I actually didn't get to drink much white russian. The one that's in the photo is one I made earlier in the day, while we were prepping for the party and testing proportions. I only took a few sips because I didn't want to be wasted before the party even started. Then, later, I made one to drink while watching the film but I put it down on a table for a minute and it disappeared. After the film I tried for the third time, just to discover we were out of milk. And I didn't relish the thought of milk powder so I gave up for the night.

We have enough Kahlua and vodka so that the next time we buy milk I can make a white russian to sit and enjoy quietly.

Cross-posted at Where in the World Am I?

04 October 2009

blue duck tavern

It may seem like a post about a restaurant in Washington, D.C., where I haven't lived for over a year, comes from out of the blue (ha ha!). But I read at Obama Foodorama that the Obamas recently went to Blue Duck Tavern to celebrate their wedding anniversary and it brought back memories of Mike and me dining there. During our last week in the States we wanted to treat ourselves to some of the finer points of American life. We lived close to the restaurant and knew of its celebrity sightings. So we thought, why not?

It was downright delicious. Mike had their signature duck and I had chicken roasted in buttermilk and herbs. The waiter and the chef were both aware of the gluten-free diet and because of the open kitchen design, I could have spied on the chef while he prepared the meal if I'd wanted to. But I trusted him.

I honestly can't remember what we had for appetizers, salads, sides, and desserts, but I remember being full and satisfied at the end of the night. Looking at their menu the only thing that rings a bell is the hand-cut triple fries; I think Mike got them. It's possible the menu has changed. Blue Duck Tavern prides itself on using locally available ingredients. Most of the meats and vegetables come from farms in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. Seasonal harvests and other natural issues will have a tendency to change menus that rely on local goods.

Blue Duck Tavern is located at the Hyatt at 24 & M Streets NW, Washington D.C., a couple blocks from the Foggy Bottom Metro.



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