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10 January 2008

knowing him through his home town

Breckenridge, seen from his front yard

There are so many ways to know a person, it seems.

The sound of his high-pitched guffaw when he really lets go. The twitchy dance he does when it's time to go to the restaurant. The touch of his fingers on mine as we drive in the car. The rapid tumble of words he uses to describe his day. The taste of a thick piece of salmon, seared on the skin side and juicy to the fork's touch, which he made late at night after cooking all day long. The closeness in the dark, under the warm covers.

Every moment with him approaches a deeper knowledge of the man I married.

But I found an even deeper knowledge when we stood in the front yard of the house he once called home ("Big Brown," his family called it, even though it's now painted blue) and looked up at the mountains of Breckenridge. The quaint buildings, the small churches, the same people walking by every day. The fingers of land cut into the green trees, tiny ant people skiing down them. The peaks of the ten mountains arching up to the sky.

"No wonder," I thought. "No wonder he is the man he has become."

There is nothing like visiting the hometown of someone you love.

the pond where he broke his wrist

The Chef has a long, pale scar on his right forearm, etched into his skin. I noticed it, right away, and asked. When he was 13, he went ice skating on the pond downtown. He slipped, he fell, and broke his right arm, badly. The local priest had to take him home -- six blocks away -- and he was so traumatized by the experience that the Chef's mother offered the priest a shot of whiskey when they walked in the door.

The Chef didn't sleep that night. There was no hospital in town. The family waited until the morning to drive on icy roads to the nearest medical center -- "That was the longest night of my life" -- where the doctors said his break was so bad they had to operate. Poor Chef's mother. Three of her five children were in the hospital at the same time. Pat had broken his collarbone, while competing for the US ski team. Kathy was giving birth to her first child. And the Chef underwent emergency surgery.

A few days later, he held his first niece in his arms, even though his right arm was in a cast up to his shoulder. He says, today, that he knew, in that moment, he wanted to be a papa someday.

And he has told me, many times, in grateful moaning, just how good it felt -- three months later -- that first night they removed the cast. "I've never slept so well in my life as I did that night."

So there we stood, on the edge of the pond where all this started. I could see it, carry the image with me, instead of trying to imagine it. "You want to go ice skating?" I joked.

"No, thanks," he said.

We walked off to find lunch.

reflection in the door of the house where he grew up

It meant so much to him — to be in Breckenridge with me. Everywhere we walked, down the snowy sidewalks and in all the local haunts, someone called out to him. He hadn't been home in three years, but still everyone knew him. (Well, except for the tourists, but none of the locals pays attention to them.) His family? They seem to run the town. His parents — before they moved to Arizona for the warm air — had been the county assessor and town clerk. Before they left, the entire town turned out to roast them. (The Chef missed the party, because he was off at his first year of culinary school. Whenever he watches the video, he tears up.) Today, his brother is the head of the ski patrol. His sister-in-law is head of lift maintenance. And his sister works for the county, for the town clerk, in charge of elections. You can't walk down the street without running into an Ahern.

Whenever the Chef turned around to locate the voice that called him, he smiled. He beamed, actually. Someone from his childhood, or his time working at the Horseshoe, or an old friend of the family reached out to hug him. "How are you?" they asked.
They could tell from the size of his smile.
And then he extended his hand and pointed to me, "This is my wife."
I beamed too, every time.

All throughout the book tour, people came up to meet me. And then they'd exclaim, "Oh, it's the Chef!"
I loved walking around Breckenridge by his side, playing second fiddle, smiling shyly and listening.

When I showed him this photograph of the two of us, in the reflection of the front door of the house where he grew up, he instantly declared it his favorite. There we were, the two of us, in his hometown.

downtown Breckenridge

Of course, Breckenridge has changed since he was a kid. Ten times more buildings crowd the small streets than existed when he was small. Main street has more t-shirt shops than I could count. Clutches of 20-year-olds toting snowboards throng the roads. This is clearly a tourist destination.

For gosh sakes, there are horses and carriages waiting for you, with plaid blankets in back to wrap around your legs.

Still, he could see the town he knew through it all. The place where the ballfield used to be. The firehouse. The wooden Catholic church where he waited on the steps for services to begin, when he was an altar boy. The parade that went through town on the Fourth of July.

I swear, I think he grew up in a Frank Capra movie.

he grows teary at the elementary school

Here he is, in front of his elementary school.

When he was little, the Chef had crossed eyes. He wore a black patch on one eye, with a shock of brown hair sticking out around it. I saw the pictures on this visit -- he looked like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn combined, with a little eye patch. Every morning, he did exercises to strengthen his eyes, following the path of a worn-down tennis ball swaying from a string in the kitchen. (It wasn't until he turned 14 that the doctors realized none of it was helping and did surgery on his eyes.) His house was three blocks away, so he walked every day, at the last moment ("School starts at 8:30? I'd leave the house at 8:25."). He was a rascal, a little troublemaker, but the teachers all loved him. And above the school, a significant slope, where the students sledded at breakneck pace, and then hiked up the hill to do it again.

Life wasn't like this for me in Pomona, California, growing up. (But I did have huge thick glasses that made my eyes look small and watery.)

Now, here was the man, fully grown, standing in front of his elementary school, with tears in his now-straight eyes.

Love expands. Every time I think I love him as much as I can, I learn that I'm wrong.

in the gondola

Breckenridge is a ski town, after all. The Chef walked out of his house every winter, after school, with skis in hand, took a bus to the ski area, and skied all afternoon. I, however, have never been on a pair of skis. And frankly, I just didn't want to start on this trip. (It wouldn't do to walk into the Tattered Cover on crutches, after all.)

But we did ascend the mountain in the town's gondolas — ten minutes of soaring for free. The Chef's oldest niece, Emily, the one he held in his arms when he had the cast, joined us on a break from her job at the ski area. We laughed so hard I thought the gondola might shake off its wire.

Seeing the earth in front of us, like that? I could suddenly see why people ski.

(However, the thronging crowds at the base of peak 8, most of them wearing ridiculous hats and an over-eager expression to attack the mountain again, made me comfortable with my choice.)

the mountains

Perhaps one of the best times of our visit involved the mountain, darkness, and an enormous machine.

The Chef's brother-in-law drives one of the CATS, a monster hulking vehicle that plows through the snow on the way up and glides a smooth path the way down. (Before we arrived in Breckenridge, I made the Chef laugh so hard he hit the floor, when I told a friend we might go up on the machine that "polishes" the snow. How should I know?) Joe took us up one early evening, when the snow was lightly following from a low cloud cover. Huddled together in the passenger seat, the Chef and I could not talk. Everything glowed white, the sky a yellowy shade, the snow settling around us. I felt like I was in a moving igloo.

Slowly, Joe moved the vehicle toward the top of peak 8, nearly 13,000 feet. We looked around and could see nothing else but mountain, sky, snow, and ourselves. I felt like we were on the moon. I felt utterly small, in all the best ways. We really are pretty insignificant.

The piercing headache from the altitude I suffered afterwards? Worth it. The insomnia and nausea and exhaustion that plagued me all week from being up in thin air, leaving me short of breath as I walked down the street? Not a problem. I had been up on top of the world, with the Chef by my side.

(And going down the mountain was an act of trust, as Joe pummeled down steep curves and sharp edges. "He knows what he's doing," I kept chanting in my head. And he did.)

Mi Casa's gluten-free menu

As much as the power of the earth, and old memories helping me to know him better, were the forces of this trip, you know there was something else. Food.

It turns out to be absurdly easy to eat gluten-free in Breckenridge. The first day, we stopped at Empire Burgers for lunch. I asked for a burger without a bun, and I went through my spiel. Before I could finish, the waitress said, "Oh, is that gluten intolerance?" She understood. I didn't have to finish.

Food Kingdom, which -- let's face it -- is a really dinky little grocery store with half-empty shelves and snowboarder guys for checkout clerks, sold gluten-free pasta, flours, bread mixes, and brownies. What is happening? Are we finally moving into the mainstream?

And then we walked into Mi Casa, a middle-of-the-road Mexican place in downtown Breckenridge. It's the kind of place where the lobby walls are lined with skiis and snowboards with snow still clinging to them. Mexican food is usually pretty easy in which to eat gluten-free. But when we peered at the menu, I nearly jumped out of my seat.

A special gluten-free menu?

fresh grilled tortillas

When our waiter approached the table with the chips and salsa, I said to him: "I have to eat gluten-free, but I can can have the chips, right?"
"No," he said, waving his hand. "There's something in them that has gluten. I'll find out why. But just don't eat them." And he scooted away to find me an answer.

I looked over at the Chef, and we both had tears in our eyes that time. I always feel so grateful when someone feeds me safely. And he was moved that someone in his hometown actually understood.

Turns out that the restaurant makes its own chips, and they fry them in the same oil as flour products. (Can I just say wow? That they had thought about it that deeply?) But he felt bad that I couldn't eat anything with the salsa, so they grilled up some corn tortillas for me.

He got a big tip.

The food? Great. A soft pork tamale with the meat spiced so well I wanted three more. Fish tacos. Beans and rice. And the warmth in my belly from knowing I was eating well.

We asked the waiter, "How did this happen?"

Turns out that one of the locals has celiac. He came in every night and asked for chicken wings, naked, and a taco in a corn tortilla. The staff started asking why, and he informed them about gluten. And then they noticed that other people, in steady streams, were coming in, and asking for something gluten-free. The kitchen manager went out to every table, when a gluten-free request came in, to make sure they were fed safely. But when he had to do this three times a night, he asked the owner. "Can't we just have a gluten-free menu?"

That's all it takes. All of us who have to avoid gluten? Tell every restaurant you know. Go back to the ones that feed you safely. Who knows? They might just make a special menu for us, one day.

Wouldn't it be an awakening if every one of us could go back to our hometown and eat gluten-free, safely?

Breckenridge sky

The food fed us well. Every night, we ate dinner with the family: pork roast with horseradish-sour cream sauce; a tasty Mexi-bake; barbequed chicken; a tender beef roast with smashed red potatoes. No problems there.

But on this visit, believe it or not, the food was only a secondary note, a high harmony in the background.

Instead, this visit was about home: returning there, and finding him there, and knowing it for the first time, and new again. We were alive under the sky, holding hands. I know him better now, for walking through the streets of Breckenridge.

And I love him even more.

steak salad with avocado ranch

Avocado Ranch Dressing

One afternoon, the Chef and I ate lunch at the Kenosha steakhouse, which advertised itself outside as: "Bbq. Booze. Burgers." Well, I like truth in advertising, and I was craving some meat. (All that fresh air, I suppose.) We sat down, and a chipper young waiter -- who looked like a younger version of Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up" -- came to take our order.

Not only did he understand the gluten thing (again, astounding), but he made it his job to oversee my entire meal. I ordered this steak salad. What kind of dressing? Well, I said, which one is your favorite of the dressings I can eat.

His eyes lit up. "Avocado ranch."

He was right. Oh god, as soon as I was done eating it, I craved even more. So I came home and made some.

Now, let me tell you about this recipe. I made it up as I went along. I used my taste memory, and the inspiration of several recipes I read for ranch dressing, and it all happened in the moment. I'm only putting down measurements reluctantly, because I want to encourage you to try your own version. But this one, served with seared salmon and red quinoa, worked just fine for us the other night.

1 medium shallot, rough chopped
1 clove garlic, rough chopped
1/4 cup dill, chopped
5 sprigs, lemon thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons each kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
5 tablespoons dry buttermilk powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 avocados, peeled and pitted

Put the shallot, garlic, herbs, mustard, and salt and pepper into a blender. Whirl them up.

Slowly, add in the two oils, while the blender is running. This will help emulsify the dressing.

Add in the buttermilk powder, milk, and sour cream. Blend it all up. It should be thickening at this point.

At the last moment, put in the avocados and whirl it all up to a thick, lovely green dressing.

This dressing goes well on spinach salads, steak salads, as a topping to fish, or a dip for vegetables. Really, you'll want to eat it.

Makes enough for 2 people for a week.


At 11:15 AM, Blogger Suz said...

Love this post(and all of them, really)! Do you think I could use buttermilk instead of the buttermilk powder? I have some leftover that I really need to use.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Catherine said...

How fabulous! Yes, waitstaff are becoming more aware all the time, but how wonderful to find a gluten-free menu!

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biaggi's, an Italian restaurant in my hometown of Naperville, IL has a wonderful gluten free menu. I cried when I realized that I could go out to dinner and eat pasta again. I am hoping that they will add pizza to their menu then I will truly be over the moon. Thanks for all of the information and stories you share.


At 11:24 AM, Blogger Jules said...

Your posts never fail to make my mouth water but this one actually made my EYES water. Your re-telling of going "home" with The Chef made me tear up!
House of Jules

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Hockey Mom said...

What a wonderful post.

I'm new to the gluten free lifestyle, and my husband (of 20 years) will love making this dressing.

Thank you.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Tiffany said...

This is such a lovely post.

I have a friend who is eating gluten, sugar, meat free. I've recommended your blog to her. I don't eat a restricted diet and this blog is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous EB said...

"Love expands"
A truer statement was never uttered.

Best to you and chef. What a wonderful glimpse into his world.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Susan said...


I enjoyed your post! I've skied at Breckenridge, so I was able to "see" it again.

However! It's

and yes, skiing.

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the current picture of the Rockie Mountains. I have been in exile for nearly 20 years. Not a day goes by that I don't miss the view of the mountains in the West.

Michelle in MA

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Joan said...

I've been reading for a while but never felt the need to "chime in" until now. This tribute was a tear-jerker in all the best ways. I've been to Breckenridge on more than one occasion for conventions, not for the slopes. I've been up other CO mountains, though; you have more than done justice to their exquisite beauty. And as a newlywed myself, I can empathize with your feelings as you learn to love the Chef more every day. May you continue to be richly blessed.

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Ann said...

You are such a fine writer. Thank you again.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous lea said...

What a wonderful trip you had and the pictures are beautiful. I want to live there. I keep hoping that one day a restaurant close to me will have a clue about gluten.


At 6:16 PM, Blogger One Food Guy said...

So sorry to hear you had to experience some altitude sickness. But so glad you ate so well! Breckenridge is so beautiful and the avocado ranch dressing is right up my alley, I'm going to have to try some!

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Rachael said...

Sounds like East Hampton...sigh...
a town time stole from me and turned into who know what...

But how rockin that there was a GF Mexican place! Its like they knew you were coming...

(who is - currently tipsy as all get out AND all kindsa bummed you never responded to my all together badass and helpful email, lil miss...ah-HEM.) (Insert loving wink)

At 11:41 PM, Blogger terry said...

god, i SO know what you mean about how good it feels when the people in a restaurant understand the gluten issue... and you feel so safe.

oh, and those are gorgeous pictures!

At 5:33 AM, Blogger la fourchette said...


At 6:12 AM, Blogger Carol Kicinski said...

I feel like I have just taken a vacation reading this post. The Chef really did grow up in a FRank Capra movie. Thanks for the post.

At 7:43 AM, Anonymous glutenfreeforgood said...

(Melissa from the GIG conference)
Shauna -- first off, I'm so disappointed I missed you while you were in Colorado. Your presentation at Whole Foods was sold out and I was up in the mountains the night you were at the Tattered Cover. Bummer. But I'm so thrilled you love our mountains! And I want to meet the chef as my family (all the way back to my great grandparents) lived up by Winter Park (he'll know where I mean). So, yes I agree, small towns in the mountains are the best! And the Tenmile Range is one of my favorite places to climb, hike, and backpack. The "about" picture of me on my website is on top of Drift Peak, right down the road from Breckenridge. Great place! I'm so happy the Chef got to show you his stomping grounds. Very sweet story. I loved this post!

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Debbie said...

Welcome back. I was wondering why there wasn't a new post, but then I remembered: CO. After seeing those pictures, I remember why my brother skiis. He lives in VT.

Went to the store yesterday for some gluten-free stuff. Flour for dusting, pasta, corn flakes without gluten. I can't figure why cereal companies put gluten in a cereal that could be gluten free (corn chex, rice chex),

This blog really inspires me! It is funny, but with all food related problems, I have found that I really LOVE food. I LOVE other stuff, too, but the smells, aromas, textures, are inspiring. So much so, I am starting a blog of my own. Don't know the name, yet, but look for it.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Mindy said...

Thats a GREAT picture... (The one in the reflection)- where is Breckenridge in relation to Denver?

Whats next for you now that you are back in Seattle?

At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for coming to Colorado and the Tattered Cover. What a treat to meet you and hear your words in your own voice.
Viva the food revolution!

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

Chef's hometownlooks like a magical place in so many different ways... and thanks for giving me my snow fix!

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous excelsior said...

As a fellow Californian, introduced by people I loved to Colorado when I was 18:

Colorado is a special place. Don't know why, it just is. My favorite place in the parts of Colorado I know is my friend's cabin above Twin Lakes. But there's something about it, even in Co Springs and Denver. And the Tattered Cover rocks.

At 5:02 AM, Blogger Zoomie said...

I know just what you mean about knowing him through his home town - whenever My Beloved and I go back east to his youthful stomping grounds, I hear new stories and experience him all over again - and fall even deeper in love with him!

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Lynn Barry said...

Your honey is a real sport, with you sharing every intimate detail of his life and yours for all who venture into this blog to it!

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Things are changing. I've eaten two really fabulous safe meals, and they weren't even in restaurants that I trust. I had one (Peruvian) meal purchased at an auction where they made me a special portobello (sp?) mushroom with artichokes and spinach. I am also cf, and they made this just for me. They steered me to everything I could eat. I've never been treated so nicely. Then, I had another meal that I'm going to feature on my blog in a couple of days. Blessings, Dee

At 1:14 AM, Blogger MerryHeart said...

Thank you so much, Shauna. I love avocado ranch dressing. Now if we can come up with a gluten-free version of the Southwestern Egg Rolls from Chili's, we'll have it made.
I also appreciate restaurants that serve gluten-free like Outback and Carabba's. I make sure to thank them so they know it's appreciated.

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Molly said...

your entries are so touching and your photographs gorgeous, I hope some day I find love as meaningful and deep as yours, I hope I find someone who could take as much joy in my dinky hometown as I do. The way you view life inspires me.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger RighterLady said...

What a beautiful post! I understand the joy you feel about finding places that will feed you safely. I'm so glad you both had a wonderful trip. Is it alright if I add you to my blogroll?

At 10:22 AM, Blogger essenzedinatura said...

hi I am writing from Italy... indeed fantastic yours blog and I'd like to read the book that you have written!!! love! Lucy

At 11:46 AM, Blogger a kelly said...

I loved reading about the Chef's hometown, how lovingly you describe it! It does sound like a Capra movie...
And I am somehow not surprised that you were able to eat gluten free...that makes it the ultimate welcoming experience.
Thank you for the your words...they are filled with love, and it just makes my day to read them!
Alex (gluten free and finally moving towards wellness!!)

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I love this post, and I especially appreciate it, because my own boyfriend is from a different state. At Thanksgiving, I was finally able to see him amongst "his" people, and, you're right, love increased just in watching him in amongst those who have loved him since birth.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger swirlingnotions said...

Such a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing, Shauna. And now I have a boring question about the dressing ;-) . . . Do you think I could use buttermilk instead of buttermilk powder and milk? I don't think I've ever seen buttermilk powder.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Jennifer Lance said...

I thought my dad might be behind the gluten-free friendly atmosphere in Breck. We have been going there since I was five, and he still goes every spring. He has been a diagnosed celiac for over a decade. When I sent him your post and asked about Mi Casa, he wrote,"The manager actually went through their recipe book with me a couple of years ago that showed how everything was prepared and what the ingredients were. I was able to pick out some basic things like tacos and enchiladas. They had not identified gluten free items yet at that time."

At 2:16 PM, Blogger It's just me... said...

Kudos on being a notable blog! I have been a big fan for a while so it was thrilling to see that Blogger is a big fan too!

And I love this post - especially your effervescence about the Chef. Love is amazing.

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Lorraine said...

What a pleasant surprise to discover your blog:o)! My 8 year old son has Celiac disease, and it is such a challenge to eat out..but it seems like more places are becoming aware of this and provding gluten free items.

Great pic's of your hubby's hometown!! Your blog is wonderful, and I will definitely stop back!! Thank you!!

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Gerald Grzych said...

Good Lord that sounds delicious!

At 3:57 PM, Blogger unklehenrya said...

Wonderful post ... very good writer ... off to find some food and look at my travel pics!

At 4:05 PM, Blogger MizMagee said...

I've been reading your blog for about a year and got such a smile to see that it's a blog of note on blogger! There are sure to be some new readers who recognize themselves from your description of celiac disease and whose lives are changed. Awesome!

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Linilla said...

Nice to see a gluten-free writer spotlighted on Blogger as the Blog of Note today. Congratulations!

I must say I am envious that you can eat dairy. Many celiacs lose their ability to digest dairy products (and for some of us, other foods as well).

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Cris Melo/Meloearth said...

This made me tear up too. I still don't know where this place is b/c I'm not familiar with the name. I feel stupid, but I was never good in Geography.

Also, how long have you guys been married for?

I had seen your book on Amazon once, but found this blog today by chance, listed in the recommendations from

At 9:42 PM, Blogger joN. said...

love the site. intriguing! i'm tagging you. check out my blog for instructions.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Summers Camp said...

I've been dancing a happy jig (in my mind, because in real life, I don't dance...) ever since I found your blog! So wonderful. *B

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Dav DiDi said...

I like the photo shot. its so nice...

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Sheila said...

That is the sweetest post ever!!! Thanks for sharing!

God bless,

At 10:58 PM, Blogger Humanus said...

These photos. Is it rare cold weather or it's ok and usual?

At 4:22 AM, Anonymous Emma said...

Can I just start by saying that this post was so touching and so heart-warming! I came across your blog from the blogs of note.

My mum is fructose intolerant (which normally goes hand-in-hand with gluten intolerance) and when I saw the title of your blog I just had to click and have a squiz.

Needless to say, I have bookmarked you and I'll be coming back at a later date and reading some more.


At 6:10 AM, Blogger Holy Cuteness said...

Wow, you have some beautiful pictures! And your blog looks great!

At 6:14 AM, Blogger The Scarlet Sassoir said...

just stumbled on your blog. absolutely charming. look fwd to more :-)

At 6:23 AM, Blogger evawing said...

I couldn't even get past the first part of your post:

"'No wonder,' I thought. 'No wonder he is the man he has become.'

There is nothing like visiting the hometown of someone you love."

You're absolutely right. The pure honesty of your words brought tears to my eyes ^^.

At 6:32 AM, Blogger babelouise said...

What a GREAT blog! I actually found it about a week ago through a blog of someone else, then all of a sudden, you are a Blog of Note! How thrilling! I will be recommending this blog to a friend of mine.
Your writing and photos are both gorgeous.
Good luck and much happiness to you and the Chef!

At 6:37 AM, Blogger Lyra said...

Love this post!!!

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Stacy said...

Beautiful post. You sound as if you love your husband as much as I love mine.

Please keep expressing your love so eloquently. The world needs to know that this is the way it can and should be.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous BeckyAndTheBeanstock said...

What gorgeous, gorgeous photos! And a gorgeous recipe too.

My friend Jill, who is gluten-intolerant, and who I cook with often, sent me to this site and I love it. Thanks for the wealth of recipes that I can prepare with -- or for -- her!


At 9:04 AM, Blogger PKPWV said...

great website and I'm very interested in the cook book! Always looking for a new way to cook!

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful blog! Your photos and language are a slice of peace in a hectic day. Thank you.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger madre-terra said...

I just finished your book (love it!) and have been consumed with thinking about living with celiac disease.
I choose to eat gluten-free and there are times when I can not so I am able to cheat (so to speak).
I am here in Paris on a can be very challenged here to eat gluten-free. We rented an apartment and I brought my own rice cakes and crackers so that we can buy cheese & pate and bring it back to our little home away from home. It's worked out pretty well. Must admit that I have tried a crepe (buckwheat and wheat) and a croissant though.
I truly feel for what you go through.
Love your writing as always.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

You are such a fabulous writer. I envy your style, your diction, and your ability to say so much with such brevity. I'm a first-time visitor and you've made me tear up and laugh out loud in the first few moments here.

I really wonder, though, what kind of camera you're using? I tried to look in the reflection, but I can't tell.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Choosy Mothers Choose Jeff said...

What a delightful, informative and well written blog.
I can easily see myself reading this often and checking out your book.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I AM homesick for the mountains—
My heroic mother hills—
And the longing that is on me
No solace ever stills."

from Cry of the Hillborn
by Bliss Carmen

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Carole said...

Dear Shauna,

Your descriptions are so beautiful and intense! Especially this post. It really is the most wonderful experience to grow closer to someone - to know them more than you thought you could.

I've been enjoying your posts for the last month or so since I found you while looking for a gf molasses cookie recipe to make for my boyfriend. Your recipes and observations of life never fail to disappoint me. Thank you for all the stories!


At 6:28 PM, Blogger The Animals Need Us! said...

Hello! I loved how long your post was and I read it ALL! I tried the recipe and I think it's fantastic! Visit my site and see what you think! I will be adding more newsletters soon but I have to upload them! Thanks!

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Shirley said...

Wonderful post as usual! I love reading about all your experiences with the chef. (Colorado is still on my travel wish list.) I also love it when those of us who need to eat GF can find a restaurant that will ease gluten concerns and has employees who look after us so very well. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences each week. Weekend before last was spent with my husband's college buddies and their wives. I have known them for a long time now, but it is still always very special to see my husband among his old friends, who know him in far different ways than I do.

Linilla--Some folks can resume eating dairy after their guts have healed from being GF and dairy free for a while. In a lot of cases, the dairy issues are secondary to the gluten issue. I went GF and dairy free for 6 months per my doctor's instructions and then resumed eating dairy slowly. (For years, I thought my issue WAS lactose intolerance ... I had no concept of gluten issues.) This approach has worked for me and others. FYI--I had some other food issues as well and after eliminating those for a while was able to slowly reintroduce the foods successfully later.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Cakespy said...

This all looks delicious--the scenery, the crisp wintriness, and the nostalgia! I love coming across places like your Mi Casa, that surprise you with their full offerings like that! Thank you for sharing!

At 8:42 PM, Blogger MUSER said...

Congratulations your blog is wonderful. Even I didn't know about the existence of butter milk powder. Will look up in the grocery store on my next shopping trip.

At 1:23 AM, Blogger alien poh said...

MM... Yummy.. thanks for the sharing :), must try!

At 4:11 AM, Blogger Rohit Tripathi said...

really.... love this post. very nice

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

What a heart-felt blog you have!!!

I loved the photos, the posts, the sentimental loveliness, the beauty of your marriage and sharing time.

I also am on a gluten-free diet and love this blog.

Hugs, JJ

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous patrick said...

thx so much for the info, sometimes i wonder about food (gluten) options when it seems like there are none

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Walter said...

I was led to your blog by the "Blogs of Note" reference on the main site - I'm enjoying the posts, keep up the good work!


At 8:27 AM, Blogger Mita said...


At 9:44 AM, Blogger unlikelyhero said...

I'm gluten free too, also processed and sugar free as much as possible. It's the only thing that's actually gotten me healthy. It's amazing what a simple diet change can do to a body. I really enjoyed reading your blog. You have a way with words.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Nathaniel Scott said...

I really enjoyed reading this story. it was written beautifully. I'm going to be taking my wife and children to a "home away from home" this summer--my grandparents cabin in Cuchara, CO--that I would visit every year or two from 1-16. It has been 10 years since I've been but I have many strong memories of it. I can't wait to share it with them, especially after reading this!

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Bijou Bob said...

You write about love with as much enthusiasm and skill as you write about food. You are a very gifted writer. And your recipes are most appreciated! Gluten-free is the only way to go. Thank you for the continuing education ...

Since you appreciate Frank Capra, allow me to reciprocate by introducing you to our blog, which is all about classic movies:

We look forward to new recipes! Keep up the great work.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger batflower said...

That was beautiful, thanks :)

At 10:21 PM, Blogger jasmine said...

this is most wonderful post that i've seen thanx for sharing it


At 10:56 PM, Blogger Maria said...

This is an amazing blog, with some really spectacular photos. You truly are very talented, and a good choice for a Blog of Note. Congratulations!!


At 2:04 AM, Blogger veda said...

Loved your post. I wonder if I can manage to source the ingredients though.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Great site! I just found you on Blogger, and copied the link for my husband, who has a gluten intolerance.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger cally said...

wow, not been here for ages (cause i also can't eat meat or dairy) but so glad i did today, this post is like a winter fairytale, a classic movie and a heartfelt love letter all in one.

i actually cried, a little, several times, with the sweetness of what you wrote about.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Just Between Us Girls said...

As I quickly read your blog...I thought this person should write and of course after I looked at your blog more closely you do and you certainly know how to convey emotion. Your husband must be thrilled at your beautiful description of how well you know him and the story about the chef was grand. Thank for a very beautiful and well written blog and you must be a photographer also because your photos are terrific. Have a great night and a good day after you read this. Pat

At 4:49 PM, Blogger Caitlin said...

I just found your blog, and it is so happy and positive - a wonderful thing in the middle of a workweek, let me tell you! I used to date a guy with celiac's, and if I had known of all of these wonderful gluten free things, I might have been more willing to cut more wheat out of my diet! At the time, tapioca loaf was not an acceptable substitute for a nice wheaty sourdough, but I've sent a link to your blog to him so he can enjoy the wonderful, tasty gluten-free-ness, so thank you!

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Lidia said...

The way you express love in your writing is brings tears to my eyes the way you love your husband...that's very special.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Live Out Loud said...

I just found your site today and will glean a lot of info from it! Thanks so much for the recipes and info. Not only am I recently diagnosed with celiac, but also just found out a couple months ago that I have garlic, egg, dairy, and peanut allergy. =( No wonder I haven't felt good for so many years!! Thanks for your site!

At 11:59 PM, Blogger A Cold June Night said...

I loved the picture of the mountains and snow with the little town in the foreground.

It looks exactly where I would imagine I live someday and I have to say it was strange to see so realistically.

Could you tell me where that was? I would love to visit it.

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Chaitali Patel said...

Hi came by your post the first time today...needless to say you write very well and its a lovely post.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Kitt said...

What a lovely post!

Glad you had a good time in Colorado.

Kitt in Denver

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Shauna, my husband and I vacationed in Seattle last week. (In January, yes. We're thinking about moving there in December, so I wanted to see winter Seattle.) We went to Impromtpu, met Chef Dan, and talked to him a while. (It was a slow night.) He really is grand; it was great to meet him, and it was great to see how he glows when he talks about you. Also, he made some damn fine tasty roasted chicken.

Have you eaten at La Carta de Oaxaca in Seattle? If not, check it out. :) It's some of the best Mexican I've ever had.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger keelyaimee said...

"Love expands. Every time I think I love him as much as I can, I learn that I'm wrong."

This is beautiful.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger mk said...

fantastic photographs on this post!

a number of us at work (publishing house) who are gluten-free or currently being tested by gastroenterologists are excited about your book! one publicist has a copy and the others of us are seeking it out! congrats on your positive reviews!

At 9:39 PM, Blogger aubrey said...

shauna, what a sweet story of you gettting to see the chef's hometown. my hometown is denver, so a lot of those pictures brought back memories. and the tattered cover downtown is my fave bookstore.

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Amanda said...

Well done for a great Blog ... I've been gluten free since blimey God knows how long actually - not because I am coeliac, but because as a kid I came out in Psoriasis - a hideous scaley skin thing where my nails fell out and I looked like a crocodile .... it made me really aware of gluten issues and since moving to Spain (my relevant blog is although there are 2 more if you're interested).

I now run a B&B where I am so happy to be able to say that I can cater for people with gluten issues as well as dairy issues, because I am also a no cow dairy person ....

So well done, thanks for the wonderful stories, and if you ever fancy a trip to Spain, you'll find us with gluten-free facilities here .... Our website is if you are interested Shauna.

Take care

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Sea said...

Shauna- I made the avocado dressing and it was very tasty. I did have a problem with the top layer oxidizing and turning brown the next day- do you have a super secret way of avoiding this problem? Thanks for any tips!


At 8:20 PM, Blogger Sensuous Wife said...

Oh my goodness!
Shauna, this post is beauty on every level. Warm like a mug of soup on a cold day. My tribute to you is here:
You inspire me.
Blessings on your love,

At 9:54 PM, Blogger me said...

i am still choked up about visiting your husband's hometown, that was so very sweet. thank you for sharing.

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous KatnAnna said...

What a heart warming story, your site is wonderful with your recipes, your pictures and it!

At 7:29 PM, Blogger melissa said...

I kept thinking I wouldn't come back and post a comment on this one, since it had gotten so old, but every time I visit I feel the urge so...

Love expands. Every time I think I love him as much as I can, I learn that I'm wrong.

yes! today is my 14th valentine's day with my husband and I only foresee loving him more and more as the years go by. it always happens. I feel blessed.


We looked around and could see nothing else but mountain, sky, snow, and ourselves. I felt like we were on the moon. I felt utterly small, in all the best ways. We really are pretty insignificant.

I know that feeling. that was what I wanted to tell you most of all. there's no way to put that feeling into eloquent prose, but yes, I understand. profound.

thanks for being out there shauna, you are a rare gem. ;)

At 6:01 AM, Blogger Lindsay said...

Wonderful to meet you Shauna; amazingly I just found out about you yesterday. And am a little disappointed that I missed you in Lakewood, CO last month. I'm in Boulder. I just had to tell you that this post, in particular, made me cry. And at first I couldn't tell why.. maybe it was the chef in tears at this elementary school, but I think it was really the idea of being "fed safely." Having had food issues growing up, not necessarily gluten intolerance, but in any case, I often abused or abstained. Your writing is so lovely and sincere. There is a book that reads that True Health occurs when you stop attempting to use the body lovelessly... It is so nice to see someone so in love with life. thanks.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sitting in Breckenridge this Memorial Day, loving your post and looking at the gorgeous mountains. Thank you for your blog, this blog, for making my reality even more beautiful! And, we are off to Mi Casa for dinner!


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