Category Archives: Dining Out

Eating on the Run, GFCF

Last week I took my kids camping. In the woods. With no electricity. And nary a flush toilet in sight. Those who know me were quite shocked to find out that I was VOLUNTARILY embarking on this trip: I’m just not what one would call the outdoorsy type. To add to the shock factor, I actually went out there sans hubby; Flamenco Dad wasn’t able to join us until we were well into Day 2.¬† I packed up all our gear, loaded up the kids and the grub, and ventured out into the wilderness.

What we encountered once we made it to the campsite was not what I expected. I didn’t realize it ahead of time, but we were in for what experienced campers would call “primitive camping.” When we arrived, we were informed that we could not drive to our campsite, instead having to hike over 1/2 mile whilst schlepping our gear. By the time we made it to our campsite it was dark out, meaning I had to assemble our tent in the dark. It was the first time I ever assembled a tent on my own, never mind the fact that it was hard to see out there.

I’ll save the rest of our camping adventure for another day, but you may be wondering why I’m sharing all this. It’s because with all that packing, hiking, and tent building, I also needed to be mindful of what we were going to eat out there.

Three days of no access to refrigeration (save for a medium sized cooler) and only a small camp stove make for some unique food challenges.

Dining on the run (or away from home) can be difficult, especially when one has to be mindful of food sensitivities. It’s not like I can just walk into a 7-Eleven and grab whatever’s on the shelf. Besides Zoe’s gluten and dairy intolerance, that stuff it usually just plain icky and otherwise unhealthy. So when it came time to prepare for our camping trip, I needed to be ready with healthy foods we ALL could eat and enjoy.

What I did was modify a recipe for banana bread that I found in Carol Fenster’s Cooking Free. The result was a not-too-sweet, tasty, and healthy pumpkin bread that was out of this world. I gave myself props for not using any refined sugar and giving my kids a breakfast/snack that was chock full of Vitamin A (courtesy of the pumpkin puree).

Pumpkin Bread (recipe modified from a recipe in Cooking Free):


1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/8 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

3 Tbs. canola oil

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups of your favorite gluten-free flour blend (I made my own)

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 ripe mashed banana

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 3 mini loaf pans. Combine syrup, baking soda, eggs, oil, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the pumpkin and banana. Divide the batter among the three loaf pans, then bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into loaf comes out clean. Cool thoroughly before cutting.


Date Night

I assisted my sweetie at a wedding this Saturday. Flamenco Dad was hired to play for the ceremony and coctail hour at this particular affair, and I was to help with moving equipment from the ceremony area to the cocktail hour area. I also got to help with cueing him on music changes during the course of the ceremony. It was lots of fun, and the venue was gorgeous! It was at a beautiful historic hotel in town, a lovely century-old building with a definite Spanish influence. The ceremony was very nice–thanks in no small part to the musical accompaniment; but also because it’s always so heartwarming to see a young, in-love couple about to embark on a lifelong journey. I heart weddings! Ah, romance…

Anyway, after our wedding business was done FD and I went out for dinner. We made arrangements with my mother-in-law to watch the kiddies, and we went out for tapas. Going out for tapas is so much fun! In the first place, what’s not to love about sangria? Also, since you order small plates of different bites of food, it’s a great social meal. Everyone picks out a few things they’d like to try, and the table just digs in. Now, doing a meal like this gfcf requires some careful planning; but it’s not impossible. One of the great things about Mediterranean cooking is that the foods that are the focus of this style off this cooking are gfcf-friendly; lots of fresh produce, lean proteins, some grains. The best advice I can give is to scour the menu ultra carefully and ask lots of questions to your waiter. The restaurant where we ate this time is one we’ve visited before, so we instantly gravitated towards certain items.

One of my favorite things to order for tapas is artichokes; roasted, marinated in olive oil, with a mix of herbs. Also, tortilla is very tasty–I occasionally make this at home. Basically it’s an omelet made with onions and potatoes that are very thinly sliced. On our latest trip to the tapas restaurant we shared some braised lamb shank that was served with a tomato sauce that had some vegetables and fava beans. Oh, and I almost forgot about paella. This place also serves several varieties of paella; some are vegetarian, some are not, some are even made with black rice (the kind with squid ink–okay, I’m not a fan of black rice, but my husband loves it). I did take a few bites of the dessert my husband ordered, but I diverted my eyes and focused on the berries that served as colorful garnish on the plate. It was a sweet finish to a sweet evening.

Images from the Buddhist Temple

This is a photo of the Buddhist Temple we visited yesterday, the Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida. People from all over the Bay Area come here to enjoy the temple, the meditation garden, the gorgeous view of the river, and the food.

This statue greeted us as we approached the produce market on the temple grounds. We bought lots of wonderful, fragrant ingredients (which I’m already putting to good use).

Here’s what I ate for lunch. I know the photo’s not pretty, but I was pretty deeply engrossed in my lunch by the time it occurred to me that I should take a photo. It’s a VERY spicy chicken with basil over jasmine rice. In the corner there is a fried sweet potato, which had been dipped in a (gfcf) batter that included sesame seeds. Had I known about that method of cooking sweet potatoes, I would have served THAT at Thanksgiving.

Here are some of the folks responsible for the wonderful food we sampled at the temple. Some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had was made by these kind people.

A Taste of Thailand

I was hoping to upload some photos of our excursion today, but due to some funky stuff going on here I’ll have to do that in the morning. Today we visited the local Buddhist temple, which has a wonderful Sunday market; there, some Thai folks who live in the area sell produce–lots of yummy traditional Thai ingredients to be found there–and make a wide variety of Thai dishes for the locals to try. The temple is located right off the river and has a lovely picnic area, so we had a fabulous Thai picnic lunch. All the proceeds from the sale of the food, produce, and other wares goes to the temple. We had a great time. One of the best parts was that just about everything there was gfcf–hooray!

When we got back, I baked some cookies: gfcf pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to be precise. More on that tomorrow. Hopefully those pictures came out fine.

A Steaming Hot Bowl of Scrumptious

Yesterday Flamenco Dad and I had the pleasure of meeting a visiting guitarist from Montreal who is performing at the college tonight. We took him out to dinner at a Thai restaurant near the hotel where he was staying. The restaurant was new to us–since we don’t live in that part of the city–and it was rather small. But when we walked in we were immediately struck by the fragrant, intoxicating aromas of Thai cooking. While the men decided to have some yummy curries, I decided to keep it light and I had some Thai Coconut Soup with chicken.

Oh. My. God. It was one of the best bowls of soup that I’ve ever had the privilege to eat. The coconut milk and lemongrass gave it a lovely sweetness, while the chilis brought out just the right amount of heat. I never knew that what looked like a rather simple bowl of soup could have such a complexity to it. I have decided to make it my mission to replicate the dish so that I can have it whenever I like.

The cooking will have to wait until after the weekend. I’m off to visit my mom in her new house. The kids, my husband, and I cannot wait! The horses have been moved from the trainer’s farm to my mom’s property, and mom and her hubby have added two goats to their growing menagerie of animals. See ya!

Please Pass the Tums

This weekend we visited the phenomenon which is the State Fair. Ever been to one? The carnival rides, the games, the cotton candy, the fried EVERYTHING? Sweet Jesus, it had been years since I’d been to a state fair, and I forgot how much artery-clogging naughtiness there is to be found there.

We actually went to the fair for a show: Zoe’s performing arts school was doing a show at the fair. Yep, that’s right: my baby performed on a real stage in front of lots of people. Her group was really adorable. They performed a number to “The Hard Knock Life” from Annie, complete with buckets, mops, brooms, and cute little orphan attire. We were a very proud flamenco family. Zoe is a natural-born performer!

After the performance and after helping the studio people wrap stuff up there, we were starving. Fair food is a tricky thing, but I managed to find a few things that Zoe was able to eat: shish-ka-bob and kettle corn. As for me, I went for the holy trifecta of fair food. I had my first corndog in about 10 years, a funnel cake (I truly cannot recall when I last had one), and a GIANT lemonade. My mother-in-law then bought a bag of fried pork rinds, the remnants of which are sitting in a sack on my kitchen counter.

Now all that wickedness did wreak havoc on my non-gluten-sensitive self, in case you were wondering. I remembered why I went 10 years without a corndog–the indigestion is brutal! But we successfully navigated a trip to the fair without Zoe getting sick on gluten or casein, which we are all quite happy about. And I got to see my kid kick butt on stage. Sweet!!


After an insanely busy week, we decided to hit the beach this afternoon. This photo was taken today; a beautiful sunset view of the Gulf of Mexico. Breathtaking, to be sure. The fresh air definitely helps to replenish a tired body.

Once the sun finally set, we hit a phenomenal Thai restaurant we know and we indulged in some delicious treats. The restaurant also has a great sushi chef. Zoe had sushi for the first time today, and she absolutely loved it. We feasted on spring rolls, curried fried rice, Thai beef with basil leaves, and some plum wine (well, the adults had the plum wine). The kids, exhausted from the activity and the long drive home, promptly went to bed. The adults will stay up late for tea, dessert, and maybe Saturday Night Live–if we don’t pass out first.