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23 September 2009

eating with Sharon

Sharon eating doughnuts

This is my dear friend, Sharon. If you've been reading this site for awhile, you've seen her face, and heard her name, a number of times. In fact, a few times she has appeared with me at readings and bakery meet-ups for my book, and people come up to her and say, "Oh my god, you're Sharon!"

She actually really loves this. So if you see her on the street, be sure to say hello.

Sharon and I have been friends since 1983, when we met in the 400 quad, in front of the freshmen lockers, at Claremont High School. Her older sister and I had been friends before I moved to London for the year, and Erica knew that I had met Paul McCartney, on Oxford Street. (It was, at that point, the peak experience of my life. I turned red as a plum when I talked to him.) Sharon came forward, shyly, wearing enormous glasses, and asked to hear the story.

We have been best friends ever since.

There's nothing like a friendship like this. After all, she and I have been close friends for 26 years, more than half our lives knowing the sound of each other's voices. We have an entire dictionary of inside jokes together, and almost no one else in the world knows what the hell kenocken means. But if one of us says it, the other bursts out laughing. Snorting, even. We have been known to snort.

Sharon loves so many things. Besides me, this woman loves food. Oh my, how she loves food. She inhales food, makes little moans, smacks her lips, and often lifts her head to ask, "Could I have a vat of that?"

Here, she is trying the little doughnuts sold at Pike Place Market, which we eat every time we go there. Scratch that. We used to eat them. Now, I watch her eat them instead.

And that's okay with me. Because this visit, my dearest oldest friend finally had the chance to meet my daughter. (Little Bean LOVED Sharon. We decided that Sharon is to Little Bean as catnip is to cat. She was often going crazy with laughter whenever Sharon walked into the room. Since this is the effect Sharon has had on me for 26 years, I often had tears in my eyes this week.)

Beyond that, we ate. In years past, I felt bad, a bit, that I couldn't share in some of the food Sharon ate. This time, she loved everything we cooked, never felt deprived, never really even talked about it.

Living gluten-free can taste that good.

smoked duck breast ravioli at Lara's house

The first night she was here, we ate these smoked duck breast ravioli. Danny smoked the duck, made the filling with fresh ricotta and lovely spices, and wrapped it all in these gluten-free ravioli.

(This is actually my sideways shot of the set-up that Lara was doing for this shot in our book.)

Sharon couldn't believe her luck, arriving on a day when we had a photo shoot for the book.

gluten-free flatbread crackers

And there were crackers, with air pockets even. With sea salt and lots of taste. We ate these with goat cheese.

omelets with the smoked duck breast filling

In the morning, omelets with the rest of the smoked duck breast filling.

Sharon was not complaining.

today's lunch with Sharon

She and I gathered heirloom cherry tomatoes from the farm stand, plus basil that had just been picked. Fresh mozzarella, plus pickled figs and peppers.

Sharon plated this, arranging it all to look most pleasing. That wasn't for the photograph. She just eats like that.

If you look at that, and tell me you feel sorry for Sharon that she had to eat gluten-free for a week, you need your head examined.

poached eggs on English muffins

The next morning, after being up late talking and watching Top Chef, we ate poached eggs on English muffins, with Danny's roasted potatoes, bacon, and goat cheese.

That was a good day.

carrots at the market

No visit of Sharon's would be complete without a trip to Pike Place Market, to look at the produce splayed out on the table.

radishes and beets at Frank's

I think sometimes she thinks I'm crazy, because I take so many photographs of my food. But look at that color leaping off the table at Frank's produce stand.

sharon showing me the doughnuts

Here, Sharon is showing me the doughnuts she bought. I could smell them.

I used to love that little doughnut stand. But now, with the years without gluten between me and them, I inhaled and smelled mostly grease. The longing is gone.

(Don't worry, those of you who are gluten-free and now want doughnuts. They're coming. Lara is writing a book about doughnuts, and she and I came up with a gluten-free doughnut recipe that will leave you reeling. Just look at it.)


Sharon said later she enjoyed this apple-rosemary bread we baked much more than she did the doughnuts. It was gone by the end of the day.

zucchini sliced for carpaccio

And after all that, we needed vegetables. In this case, zucchini sliced thin for carpaccio.

gluten-free pizza

Ah, but a few days later was my father's 65th birthday party (hi, Dad!). We brought the food: pizzas with sauteed chicken of the woods mushrooms, homemade pesto, and fresh mozzarella.

Everyone talked and laughed, and then called out how much they loved the pizza.

Gluten-free crust.

pumpkin pie

And pumpkin pie, with a gluten-free crust. My father's favorite pie.

tonight's BLT

On one of her last night's here, Sharon and I constructed a BLT from scratch. Danny made the bacon, we grew the lettuce, made homemade mayonnaise, and baked the bread. (okay, we bought the tomatoes.) You can read all about it here.

But suffice it to say that this was the first BLT I had eaten in nearly 5 years. Goodness (or goodless, for Sharon), that tasted sweet and salty, full of flavor, and a little teary for the fact I could share it with my friend.

Sharon loved it. She didn't even talk about the fact it was gluten-free. It was just a great BLT to her.

breakfast this morning

The last morning, just before she drove away, we ate this for breakfast. Scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes with cheese, smoked tomato salsa.

"I don't want to go," Sharon wailed. I didn't want her to leave.

A week with her, eating and laughing as we played with Little Bean, was one of the biggest gifts I have received this long, tumultuous year. We all had tears in our eyes as she drove away, even the little one.

There was no sacrifice on Sharon's part to stay with us and eat gluten-free. We were simply together, eating and laughing.

And those of you who are new to this? And wonder if other people will accept you? Just remember this. It's not the gluten that matters. It's the food.

Your friends will love the food you feed them, and you will be closer for the communion of the meals you share together.


At 1:51 AM, Blogger Lyndie said...

Love this story. Many people don't appreciate the relationships of childhood friends. Made me miss my dear friends and want to eat some pizza....

At 1:56 AM, Blogger hausfrau said...

Your book has gone to my best friend for her birthday as gluten-free is a requirement for her too. I wish I'd got me a copy!

At 4:30 AM, Blogger MamaJoe said...

I gained weight reading about all the wonderful foods. I can't wait to try a few out...minus dairy. Friends are a treasure.....

At 5:01 AM, Blogger Hannah said...

That was beautiful. Made me think of all my friendships and how centered on eating well and cooking beautifully together they are.

At 6:26 AM, Blogger Emily Glaser said...

Such a great story. Hooray!

Speaking of doughnuts, Babycakes is now making a gluten-free (and of course vegan) kind. I'm looking forward to your second book and theirs as well.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger jbeach said...

I just love the story of you and Sharon because I have a best friend like that, too, and it is one of the shiniest, brightest, best things in the world.

Those meals look unbelievable!

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Kate said...

I cannot wait until your book comes out!!! I am going to make everything in it!!

At 7:18 AM, OpenID islandlass said...

What a "tease" with all these wonderful looking GF dishes! Can't wait for you new book to come out.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

I have a "Sharon"! My dear friend Helen, although now a vegan so we don't quite share the food thing like you and Sharon. I have know Helen since kindergarten, we got sober a year apart from one another, our mothers both died within 6 months of each other and we both have wonderful female partners. She is my dearest friend and a beacon of wisdom in my life. There is something unexplainable about someone who knows the inside of you and has the history of over 45 years. We are lucky people to have Sharon and Helen in our lives.

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

Hi Shawna! Wow - the pictures of all that food looks scruptious! Gluten Free Donuts, Ravioli.....when does your new book come out....I have to have it! Ina from the Westcoast

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Great post, I love reading about the joy everyone is taking from such great cooking. I cannot wait for the new cookbook to come out; let us know whe it goes up for pre-order.

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous lgold said...

Your zest for life and food continue to inspire me always.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger jlp_seattle said...

Those in Seattle wanting GF doughnuts are in luck. Kaili is starting to serve them at Davinci's. Delicious!

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous La Niña said...

You don't need gluten to glue people together.

Good food and love are all you need. (The revised Beatles song.)

What a delicious week you and Sharon shared!
(I want that ravioli!)

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Green Acres in the City said...

What a lovely visit between 2 friends. Oh how I too remember that donut stand at the market. Thanks for sharing.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

Once again, you share a tasty and heartfelt snippet of your life that makes makes me smile. Gorgeous eats. Superb friendship. All is so lovely!

At 9:07 AM, OpenID jillp said...

Sounds like the best week ever. And makes me miss cooking and eating and laughing with MY best friend!

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Jean said...

To have a friend like Sharon to share life's journey is a true gift.
I can imagine her joy at your food since it is the essence of life itself, joyous and nurturing.
I will get to try all those recipes I am sure, especially once your book is out.
Thanks for sharing your relationships too.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous andrea said...

I love this post! Love seeing how much fun you all had. I know that feeling, just had my dear friend Diane visit a few weeks ago, we've been friends for 20 years now! No mtter how long between visits, we just pick right up where we left off last time. The photographs are stunning, just lovely, and I LOVE the portrait of Sharon!

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Jenny said...

I love how food binds us together as people. It can be healthy, it can be good and it just makes those we share it with come even closer! Love the story and the food/pictures look incredible!

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous alison said...

All those food pictures are making me so hungry -- everything looks fabulous and the photography is awesome. I find that foodie friends get the whole gluten-free thing and don't make a big deal. Good food is good food, gluten-free or not! Hope to see you this Saturday!

At 10:37 AM, Blogger I Am Gluten Free said...


What a lovely story. And what a gift for you to be able to spend precious time with your friend and ESPECIALLY for her to get to meet Little Bean. Which was the best part of her visit for you? So much to choose from! Sounds like it was all totally fabulous.

I simply cannot wait for the new book. You and the Chef are putting gluten free on the culinary map in a way that makes it legitimate and artful. Thank you, from the bottom of my gluten free heart.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Jessica Meyer said...

Love your story and your pictures look delightful.
Jessica Meyer-

At 2:44 PM, Blogger FeistywithFlavor said...

What a wonderful story and all of the food you prepared looks fabulous!

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your friendship with all of us! I'm spending the week with my brother and SIL in Colorado, and we're eating beautiful things from his garden, and I've got another loaf of GF bread in the oven, as the cinnamon apple swirled loaf that I made 2 days ago disappeared. Do we suffer? Absolutely not.

So perfect. "It's not about the gluten. It's about the food." Sounds like a fine mantra to me. Add to that the love of friends and family, and it's as good as life gets.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm not a celiac, but I lived with a couple of women with celiac disease for a few years, and part of that time I did much of the cooking, and got to learn how to cook gluten-free. It was amazing... challenging, at times, to have to be so careful... not to mix utensils, and have to learn what ingredients had gluten and did not. We learned to do a lot of experimenting, and I was always thrilled when we figured out how to make things that they missed having. Some of their food was so delicious, no one wanted the regular stuff! They'd have to hide it! In fact, I partially follow GF blogs so that I can send recipes to her, but I like to get ideas for myself too! Thank you for your blog.

At 10:07 PM, Blogger NaeLynn said...

sigh. sitting in a dorm room and reading about the wonderful food makes me hungry! It all sounds wonderful and I can't wait to get the book.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger j.cro said...

I am slowly indoctrinating my friends into my world of gluten-free eating by baking delicious cupcakes, brownies and cakes. Since there's rarely anything left, I'm thinking they're cool with it. I love cooking/baking for my friends and I'm glad they can't tell the difference. In fact, a lot of times they ask, "This is vegan? This is gluten-free?"
It tastes THAT good and nothing pleases me more.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Tasty Eats At Home said...

Friendship like that is awesome.

However, I was distracted by all of the pictures of yummy food. There's ravioli? I want gluten-free ravioli.

At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot wait till your book comes out. I read your first book and devoured it. I am sure your second book will be just as wonderful and I am excitedly looking forward to it. For two years I have been struggling with my gluten intolerance. After reading your book I realized I don't have to mourn the loss of gluten. There is beauty in living gluten free. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world filled with appetizing, delicious, and fulfilling foods I would never had tried had I not needed to go gluten free. I can lead a tasty life without ruining my gut. I still have my days where I miss gluten fill foods but those are occurring less and less. Thank you for sharing your story and life on your blog and in your books. It is very inspirational.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Ether64 said...

Hi. I am reading your blog for the first time, and I'm loving all the pics of fabulous looking food.
It's so helpful to me because I just found out that I have to change our diets in my household to gluten free.
I recently discovered that my son is ADHD and there's a relationship with the food, and gluten. I even had to change my cat's diet away from dry foods, because of the gluten and other contents that are not healthy for pets.
Once I made this change, my cats are all doing much better, and love the food I make for them. Even Benny, the one that has the ear issue, shows signs that it is clearing up since I changed their diet.
I'm always looking for diet ideas for new and interesting foods that I can fix for my 13 year old son's breakfast and lunch, and he's pretty picky. So I'm checking out your recipes for ideas and truly appreciate all the food pics and recipes you post. Thanks. God bless.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Rook No. 17 said...

What a wonderful story! Beautiful pictures. I found your blog due to a recommendation by one of my FB fans. I'm going to have to go back and send her a big thank you! Keep up the wonderful writing!

At 8:04 AM, Blogger The Parent Trapped said...

Oh, the BLT. I don't miss sandwiches much, but it has been too long since I sank my teeth into a good BLT. And I expect leftover turkey sandwiches will haunt my dreams Thanksgiving night. I know there are plenty of GF bread recipes, and you make it sound so easy, but I'm having trouble getting motivated. Any suggestion?

At 1:50 PM, Blogger NatalieD said...

Until you come up with your own donut recipe, try the Glutino (I think they're Glutino) brand of cinnamon/sugar donuts in the freezer section of Whole Foods. They are kind of pricey for only 6 in a box, but they really are very good. I'm picky, too, when it comes to GF food. By the way, your 36-hour chocolate chip cookies are the BEST COOKIES EVER!!! My non-GF friends line up to get them.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Elana said...

Again, hats off to you :-)

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Courtney said...

I am crying a little bit as I read this...I've actually read your blog for quite some time but only just recently was diagnosed with celiac...and I hope to someday feel joyful the way you do! I am in no way mourning the food choices - I am thrilled if this will help me...but it has been a week and I have good days and bad days with how I feel and just don't know what to expect from the healing process...right now I just want to move into your blog post and live there!

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Krista Ali said...

This entry made me tear-up, too. Whenever I start to get a little blue about what I must be missing now that I have ditched gluten, I come here, read, and am reassured. I won't miss ANYTHING. It won't be as easy as it used to be: I can't run to a little restaurant around the corner any time the mood strikes me. But wonderful, tempting, deeply satisfying food are within my reach. It just takes a little more effort on my part--but a big part of the joy of the food is the journey to it. Thanks for always being a reminder when I need one.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Cathi said...

Wonderful story, Shauna.....I will definitely say HI if I see Sharon...:) such gorgeous food!

At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Cat @ Fresh said...

What would we do without friends like these?

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous cathy said...

wow, those doughnuts but most of all that ravioli!!! I'm tearing up just reading about Sharon, she sounds like the greatest friend and (can I say?) she is smokin HOT in that picture! Friends are a blessing.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

My dear, I am hanging out for your next book. These photo's are such a tease! I can't wait!

At 6:13 PM, Blogger The Gourmet On A Diet said...

Everything looks fabulous. Bravo!

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous delores said...

I love your pictures and your words. Celiac disease doesn't have to TOTALLY blow (though there will always be some suck-age in it). I'm gluten free, sugar free, fake-sugar free, and lactose free. I've learned not to be bitter, but people who aren't intolerant of foods just don't understand its not the FOOD. Its more that in our culture, so many things revolve around eating. Holidays, getting together with friends, even going to the movies. Living without isn't just being careful and eating stuff from Namaste and Bob's Red Mills. Its also living slightly apart from everyone else, as they commune.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger carri z. said...

it's stila/almond glory carri : )
this reminds me!
i have pics of you, me
and sharon from
the 0h-8 celiac conference. yeah!
you are uber pregnit
with the luce-meister.
the pics are awesome.
i will email : )
hope you goooooD!

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Sharon, I have been blessed with a few friends like Sharon, some I have had for 29 years (since 1981), others just for the last two years. The Universe sends us the people to support and love us when we need them.

I am Wheat-, Corn-, Sugar-, Apple- Fungi- and Chemical-Free. What an EXPENSIVE trip this has been. I am looking forward to your book and will definitely be looking for your previous book as well.

Sorry to say the "The Gluten-Free Gourmet" was no help to me. Most cookbooks don't have real food - the stuff I really miss - that tastes anything close to the real thing. From the comments I have read here, your books are the exception to the rule. Thank you for your efforts.


At 4:18 AM, Blogger H.Peter said...

Hello Sharon.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger 39th and Broadway said...

Your site has been a lifesaver so I had to give it an award;

Thank you and can't wait for the cook book!

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this and thought about my best friend who lives on the West coast( I live on the East). I flew out with my daughter this summer for a visit. She and I are such close friends, but because of families, jobs and just life, don't get to see each other as much as we would like. And, this was the first time I was gluten free with her and I was wondering how that would go. Well, let me just say, our first stop after landing was Trader Joes to stock up on more gf food that she had already bought for my visit! She totally embraced, wrapped her brain around, wanted to learn about my new way of eating! A true friend. The absolute highlight was going out to PF Changs for dinner where she suggested having us all order dishes from the gf menu so we could share! Talk about feeling teary!

At 12:27 PM, Blogger lintenn said...

Thank you! I'm currently not only gluten-free and dairy-free (and fairly new at that) but also learning to cook without eggs and garlic (I hope that part is temporary). Your story about eating with Sharon and the gorgeous photos are so inspiring I'm actually excited about it.

Beautiful food! Thank you.

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried karioka? It is balls of coconut milk and rice flour that are soaked in syrup after frying. Sort of like a chewy GF doughnut. I've had them at Delite Bakery on Beacon Hill. Delicious!

At 2:15 AM, Anonymous food handling certificate said...

Now that’s what I call eating and living a healthy lifestyle.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Jessica said...

I love your blog so much. I have been a lurker for quite awhile. :)

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Jessica said...

All of that looks delicious!
Have you thought about adding something to the Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking Contest (just launched by Brighter Planet)? They're looking for stories about how people lower their impact while cooking, and lots of the things you write about - re-using leftovers in a new meal, shopping at a farmer's market - are just what they're looking for. It would also be great to have a gluten-free presence in their recipes...
Check it out here:

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

I love all of this! I've just committed to gluten-free, though I'm not new to it at all. I plan to pick up your book now that I've sworn myself in it for the long haul. I've started food blogging also- and find it to be a wonderful outlet. It especially helps me share something that I used to feel alone in.
Anyway, the rosemary bread looks fantastic, I'm inspired to go on a GF baking binge now...

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Susanne said...

What an incredible beauty your friend is!! She looks like mischief and love and savvy all rolled into one. :)

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Glaser said...

I cannot wait until your book comes out!!!

At 9:32 AM, Anonymous kellypea said...

Makes me long for so many special people I have known who have been lost in the business of life. Thank you so much for sharing it -- it made my Saturday morning with coffee just perfect.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Shauna said...

Thank you to all of you who wrote about your own friends here. Sharon inspires me in so many ways. I'm thrilled if writing about her inspired you to reach out to your old friends too.

And yes, I do feel a teeny bit guilty showing you photos of all these foods and not sharing the recipes, yet. The cookbook will be out next fall, so it's a long wait for us too. But we are still tweaking and changing, making sure they are the best they can be fore you. We hope the recipes will be worth the weight.

Anonymous who asked if I had tried karioka? I have not, but I would like to try it from your description. (also, because it sounds like karaoke, which Sharon loves. So, for her.)

Susanne, your description of Sharon is exactly right!

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anna (londonfoodieny) said...

here here! this morning i made gluten free pancakes for my family and at first i felt the need to apologize and excuse the fact that they may not like the taste but they all tucked in and loved them!

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Elana said...

I just re-read this post and had to leave another comment. My best friend and I met 26 years ago when we were in high school in California. Now she lives in LA. Weird.

I was at a GF conference today and someone was talking about you glowingly, I told her I had met you in person and that you were every bit as wonderful in real life as on your blog.

xo Elana

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

Thank are a breath of fresh air in my severely restricted food world. It's wheat, dairy, eggs, chocolate and sugar that send my body in a downward spiral. Reading your book and blog give me new hope and inspiration to keep on keeping on. For my health and the health of my family...thank you...again.

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Melissa Schisler said...

Wow, I love your tells such a visual story! It's so true that food is often part of the celebration of friendships, and thankfully "gluten free" no longer equals deprivation! I even found out that there are gluten free wedding cakes to be had:
I will definitely be on the lookout for your new cookbook!

At 10:26 PM, Blogger Creative Mom said...

What a beautiful post and not only the photos, which make me want to eat right now even though it's late and I am not hungry.
The ravioli especially looks amazing and is one of the last frontiers of gluten-free cooking I have to try. It has been 15 years since I have had ravioli and my 5 year old daughter with food sensitivities only knows the store bought g-f stuff. I can't wait for your book to come out I'll be making ravioli!

At 1:58 PM, Blogger smoo said...

Hey! I see that you like Top Chef. My friend Bryan is one of the contestants. When I eat in his restaurant (Volt), he always makes gluten-free dishes for me. If you ever come to Frederick, MD, on your book tour, I can take you there for some amazing GF treats!


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