Monthly Archives: November 2006

Play-Doh and Gluten Sensitivity

One of the most interesting “fringe benefits” of living gfcf means that your learn about some of the hidden places where common allergens are found. It’s also funny when your friends report to you when they’ve found gluten & casein in unusual places. My friend Stephanie has become a gfcf detective over the past year or so that we’ve been friends. She is very inquisitive, always asking about the diet and what Zoe’s food limitations are (Steph brings her kids over to play with my kids sometimes, and she likes bringing sweets for the kids occasionally).

She called me today to ask me if I was aware that Play-Doh contains gluten. I knew about it, but gluten doesn’t bother Zoe if she touches it–only if she ingests it. Ayden likes playing with Play-Doh, but since he is not gluten sensitive I don’t worry about it. Whenever Zoe comes in contact with it, or other gluten-containing clays, I make sure she thoroughly washes her hands with soap and water to avoid contamination. You know how it goes: kid plays with clay, kid chews own fingernails, puts fingers in mouth, you get the idea.

I gave Stephanie some more information to think about today, which has nothing to do with gluten. Steph’s daughter has a peanut allergy, and Steph mentioned that she was going to go to Chick-Fil-A with her kids. Now, I LOVE Chick-Fil-A. Their fries are gluten free (Take that McDonald’s and BK), and the fried products are fried in peanut oil, which is much healthier than the partially hydrogenated oils most fast food places use. But I had to tell my buddy about the peanut oil because of her daughter’s allergies–I wanted to make sure she didn’t get her daughter anything fried from there because of the potential for allergic reaction. So, it’s grilled chicken and a carrot & raisin salad for her daughter.

Steph and I are destined to become the Cagney and Lacey of food detectives.


Back in the Saddle Again

Now that the revelry of the Thanksgiving holiday is over, it’s back to business as usual here at Casa de Flamenco. I’ve given myself permission to wait another week before I start to obsess over Christmas preparations; so this week is all about having fun at home with the family and not getting all wrapped up (no pun intended) in holiday stuff.

I’m planning to bake a little something to surprise my daughter with when she gets home from school. About two weeks ago, I made Zoe and Ayden some delicious peanut butter cookies; I got the recipe from one of my favorite gluten-free bloggers, Gluten Free Girl. Her link is listed on the right. The cookies had just the right balance of crispness, chewiness, and melt-in-your-mouth yummines.

Oh, and the hubby did not miss out on the cookie action, believe me. He ate several of them, accompanied by a ginormous cup of his outstanding coffee. My husband is a total coffee snob! He has beans shipped to him from the company we used to buy from in NYC; and he grinds the beans fresh every time he makes a pot. I’ve been officially spoiled to the point where I don’t even make coffee anymore–his just tastes better.

I could use some coffee right now; too bad my husband already left for work.

Turkey Withdrawals

Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law’s was lots of fun! The kids had a great time, the weather was nice (so we actually got to use the patio), and the food was delicious! It was a nice, relaxing day–especially since I had done all my food prep the day before (including all the gfcf goodies). I was very mindful not to overdo it at the dinner, so I didn’t do the eat till I feel bloated thing. I was very proud of my show of restraint.

But there is one problem–I have no turkey leftovers. I love Thanksgiving, partly because I get to get my turkey on this one day of the year. Since I did not make my own turkey I am missing my leftover turkey for sandwiches, soups, and the like. My husband does not share my enthusiam (or zeal) for turkey, so when I told him that I planned on buying a small turkey to roast here, he just rolled his eyes and said, “whatever.”

So today I’m off to the supermarket for a Thanksgiving redo. I figure I can get a small turkey, make a small batch of gfcf stuffing, some type of green veggie, and a nice dessert. Then after my family eats their second turkey dinner of the year, I can go to bed with visions of turkey pot pie dancing in my head; gfcf pie, of course.

Gobble Gobble

Today I’m taking care of all baking in preparation for tomorrow’s feast at the in-laws’ house. I’ve got desserts, both gfcf and not, and my homemade cranberry relish done–and it’s only 3:30. Yipee! Tomorrow will be all about relaxing and enjoying time with my husband and kiddies. No stressing for me this year!

I’m not going to get to see my family (mom, brother, grandmother, stepfather, uncle) until Christmas, which is pretty sad. I haven’t had a Thanksgiving with my mom in twelve years; I always had to work over the holiday, so making the trip to her was never an option. Now that I’ve transitioned into staying home full-time, I thought I’d get to have turkey with Mom. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be this year, but hopefully next time. Actually she’ll only be a two-hour drive from me starting in January, so the trip will be much shorter. Right now the long drive can be torture. Try driving for 6 hours with two rowdy kids and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Arroz con Gandules

I thought it would be a good idea to post a recipe for arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) since I raved about it in my last post. Trouble is, when I asked my mother-in-law for the recipe she gave me the response most lifelong home cooks give. “Oh you know, put a little bit of salt, water, rice to cover…” You can see where I’m going with this. The lady doesn’t measure ingredients–ever! So what I decided to do was to take a recipe for the dish from one of my favorite cookbooks, and make adjustments based on what I’ve learned from watching the mother-in-law make it.

There are two Puerto Rican cookbooks in our home. One is Puerto Rican Cuisine in America by Oswald Rivera. The other is Cocina Criolla by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli. It was given to my mother-in-law as a wedding present back in 1960, and she still uses it. I’m fortunate in that she’s been kind enough to allow me to borrow it from time to time. It’s a real treasure. The book is in Spanish, so it takes me a few minutes to figure out some of the ingredients. I hear the book is now available in an English translation.

Arroz con Gandules
adapted from a recipe by Oswald Rivera
special thanks to Rebeca C.

1 can pigeon peas (I like the Goya brand)*
2 cups rice
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 lb. salt pork, rinsed under cold water and diced
1/4 lb. lean cured ham, rinsed under cold water and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbs. chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olives (with pimentos)
2 Tbs. capers
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbs. dry white wine
salt to taste
2 cups water

*Note: If you decide to use dry beans, soak 1 lb. of beans overnight and cook until tender. Drain, setting aside 2 cups of the cooking liquid–you can use that in place of the 2 cups water.

1. Wash rice and drain.
2. Heat oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Brown salt pork.
3. Add ham and cook until golden crisp (on medium heat).
4. Add onion, peppers, cilantro, garlic,cilantro, olives and capers for about 5 minutes, or until onions begin to appear translucent.
5. Add tomato sauce and cook about 3 minutes.
6. Stir in rice, add peas, water (or reserved liquid), wine, and salt.
7. Bring to a boil, uncovered, until water begins to be absorbed by the rice.
8. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and let rice sit about 10 minutes prior to serving.


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The family and I will be gearing up for some Thanksgiving festivities here shortly. There are two things I like about Thanskgiving; one is cooking for family and friends, and the other is (no surprise here) that we party! And when there’s a party that usually means dancing, so you can guess what I’ll be doing come Thursday evening after I take my tryptophan-induced nap. This is a good thing, because I’ll need some physical activity to burn off all the stuffing and pies that will no doubt be part of our family’s celebration.

My husband’s not really a turkey fan (sacrilege!), but his mom typically makes his favorite dish of hers, which is arroz con gandules. It’s yellow rice with pigeon peas; the dish includes ham, onions, peppers, garlic–you know, typical Pilgrim fare. A Puerto Rican family’s Thanksgiving dinner really isn’t complete without it. And you thought mashed potatoes were the only way to go, huh? Did I forget to mention that the dish is gfcf? And my kids love it. Okay, I love it too–and nobody cooks it as well as my mother-in-law does (Sorry Mom).

What? No Pumpkin Pie?

I got a note from Zoe’s teacher letting me know that on Monday, her class and the class next door are going to have a Thanksgiving feast. They’re asking parents to send in ingredients for the dishes they (the kids) are going to help prepare. The teachers will provide the turkey and plates, etcetera. From what I was able to glean from the note the class will be eating turkey (gravy on the side), cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie, green beans and mixed veggies, rolls, and sweet tea. The teacher added on my note to let her know what Zoe could eat from the list, and informed me that I could send substitutes that are appropriate for my daughter to eat.

Man, I love her teacher. She’s really good about giving me the heads-up on these things early so I can prepare. I’m going to need all the time I can get, because 99% of that menu is off limits to my kid.

My idea is to make some side dishes that I can send portions of to school and freeze the rest, so I can take them with us when we go to Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law’s. Both the school Thanksgiving feast and the dinner with my in-laws will feature items that are either laden with butter or stuff that’s got both gluten and casein. Hey, can’t say I blame them; I loves me some rolls with butter, and don’t even get me started on how much I love stuffing.

So here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with so far:

GFCF cornbread stuffing
Veggies with no butter
GFCF rolls
Chocolate cake

I know, pumpkin pie is conspicuously absent from my list. There’s a good reason. Last year after my daughter realized that she couldn’t eat pumpkin pie (which is a Thanksgiving staple), she insisted that I come up with a recipe for it and make one especially for her. After all, it’s tradition! So I labored long and hard and made a delicious soy pumpkin pie with a rice crust. It looked, smelled and and tasted quite good. I put a slice of pie on a plate and handed it to my precious firstborn, she took a bite, looked at me and said, “I don’t like it.” She at that moment realized that she didn’t like cinnamon; and seeing as how cinnamon is a major player in pumpkin pie, that meant no pumpkin pie for Zoe. Fortunately my husband and son eat anything I put in front of them; they made short work of that pie.

Speaking of pies, I have been asked by my sister-in-law to bring some pies to her dinner. I’m going to be a busy girl come next week.