An Irregular Regular

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #81: regulars

~~~

 

IMG_6457

 

I see you here more often than most of the wait staff!

I looked up.

It was one of the waitresses.

I recognized her – 50-ish, tall, dressed in the black non-uniform worn by all the staff…a front apron pocket stuffed with pens and order pads. She tended to march from table to table. Very business like. An air of efficiency. The woman who called everyone Honey.

She had spotted me sitting at the table I usually request – at the rear of the restaurant – in a quieter section where chairs are straight backed and kind to my osteoporotic spine. I was alone, waiting for a friend to join me for lunch. Studying the menu…which was unnecessary really, as I practically had it memorized.

I wasn’t sure what her comment was meant to convey. Was it a positive? A negative? Her expression…non-committal…perhaps even a bit stern…as if this was an announcement of some significance. And I was missing the point.

I do tend to overthink…while at the same time always curious as to why people say what they say. So I plunged ahead…

You have a great – and varied – gluten free menu. It is hard to find a restaurant that takes it seriously for those of us with celiac disease. I really appreciate the care you take here.

She nodded. Agreed with me. And off she went…or rather…marched.

I am also a member of their Loyalty Program – points and a free lunch after 10 visits. Ten salads with chicken and hold the onions and dressing on the side. And please remember the warm gluten free roll. They usually do.

Apparently I am a regular, although for reasons I am still trying to understand…I am not entirely comfortable with it.

I’d much rather be the observer than the observed.

Anomaly

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #52: Anomaly

 

I should have seen this as an ominous sign of things to come.

The bizarre muffin situation of April, 2008.

It happened 11 months before I was diagnosed – much to my surprise and dismay – with celiac disease.

Marking the starting point of my downward spiral…into the land of massive shoulder shrugging by countless doctors and specialists. I was convinced somebody had answers to my pileup of accompanying symptoms and why and what-the-hell-is-going-on with my body questions….

…Back to the muffins…
What the heck happened here? I had no idea.
Regular muffins. Nothing crazy. A simple dependable recipe that produced muffins of uniform shape and size. One of the easier items to bake.
But this batch?
Odd. Weird. Peculiar looking.
An anomaly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So much so, that I documented. My husband and I had a few chuckles as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One year later I started a new baking adventure: gluten free everything.
Including muffins. Which, though more difficult to make, never turned out like those weird ones from BC (Before Celiac).

I, on the other hand, had become an anomaly in the exam rooms in 4 states.

As health care professionals attempted to diagnose my ever expanding list of health problems…with answers that did little to satisfy…

I’ve never seen this before.
Mmmm…the usual tests look normal.
I’m not sure what to do next.
It’s probably autoimmune.
Most people don’t have all these symptoms.
There’s not much we can do.

Let’s wait and see…

and…my favorite…

Sometimes this happens.

Bread

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt

Bread…the often maligned staff of life. A slice of evil carbs. The heaven-sent envelope for melted cheese.

I didn’t give it much thought on a personal level until 10 years ago. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease. And reluctantly began my adventures into the murky depths of the gluten-free diet.

Full disclosure: I worked my entire professional life as a registered dietitian, so I knew what celiac disease was. And what a gluten-free diet was.  My least favorite diet to teach someone about. Challenging to say the least.

It was not without great irony, that I embarked upon this new personal life chapter.

Returning to the subject of bread…

“Back in the day” as we baby boomers say, gluten-free (GF) bread was akin to extra thick cardboard…at best. Available only by mail order. Or at a lonely booth at the annual dietetics convention. Samples piled high as dietitians rushed past the company table. Towards the latest low fat potato chips on display further down the crowded aisle.

GF bread was oh so very dry. Like chewing on a rug pad. Sandy when crumbled. Taste? A junior high science experiment gone wrong.

When I was diagnosed in 2009, a hopeful light had started to appear at the end of the gluten-free diet tunnel. A few companies were starting to manufacture decent gluten-free mixes, cookies, cakes…and some breads. The marketing strategy was not so much aimed at those of us with celiac disease (we are only 1% of the US population), but for those with gluten intolerance as well.

However, the real economic driver for the cascade of GF foods on the grocery store shelves? The tidal wave of consumers who believe a gluten-free diet is a healthier diet overall (it isn’t, don’t get me started…).

All the attention is fine with me though. I benefit from more choices that actually taste…almost as good…as their “real” counterparts.

I tried making GF bread from a mix the old fashioned way. Letting it rise and all of that. There were a number of disasters until I found a mix that turned out okay…

gf bread 2011

…but the texture? meh… Taste? better than a GF loaf off the shelf. Still way too much work.

In 2011 my 2 adult children took pity on me and gifted me a bread machine at Christmas. Along with several bags of GF bread mix.

“It’s easy Mom. Just put it all in the machine and push the gluten free setting button!”
They were well acquainted with my aversion for recipes with more than 6 ingredients and a few steps.

They were right. It was easy. The bread tasted even better. And did I say it was easy?

The magic bread mix plus bread machine did equal a quality loaf of gluten-free bread. Not quite like the old days of hearty wheat and bran bread, but a definite improvement…

GF bread 2012

No more cardboard bread. The taste and texture acceptable. But still not…well…normal.

gf bread cutJPG

However…since I pride myself on reading directions – no matter what they are for – I also studied the recipe book that came with the bread machine.

I found a gluten-free bread recipe listing:

5  different flours plus
9 other ingredients
and 15 steps…

…I thought maybe I could make an even better GF bread. Worth the time to assemble. With so…many…ingredients. And the bread machine…

My curiosity got the better of me. As often happens.

I tweaked the recipe with:

1. What I had learned since my diagnosis (which includes: forget all you ever knew about baking bread)
2. Old Food Science class info nuggets pried from my memory bank circa 1976 (science is science after all).
3. Let’s try somehow to increase the fiber so eating white bread doesn’t feel so wrong.

It worked.
Excellent tasting gluten-free bread.

Which I know I have a photo of somewhere.
And when I find it, I will add it to this post!

One thing for sure: samples would go fast at the convention….