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01 February 2006

gluten-free goodness from around the world

quinoa I, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

I’m so darned happy that it’s February.

It’s not because of bloody Valentine’s Day — I can tell you that right now. I have no special affinity with Groundhog’s Day. And February is certainly not spring yet — even if it’s not quite winter either.

February is not January. That’s why I love it.

January in Seattle this year was .... wet. It rained. And rained. And rained. And rained. There seeemed to be more days of rain than there were days in the month. It rained so much that I ran out of adjectives to describe the experience of being here: drenched hair; soggy skin; saturated clothes; drizzling clouds; patters of drops; puddly ground; damp cars; dripping eaves; sopping fingers; waterlogged brains; doused hopes of sunlight; sprinkled salutations; preciptated people. Damn — I don’t even know what to say anymore. It has just been aqueous around here.

Normally, I love the rain. I love the coziness of it, the tapping rhythm of raindrops on the skylights in my kitchen, the muffled quiet of it. But after 422 straight days of rain — and I know that’s hyperbole, but it sure doesn’t feel like it around here at the moment — I’m trying hard to like the rain.

Last winter, I think it rained ten days out of the entire winter. In fact, we had so much sparkly sunshine and clear-blue-skied days that we all grew a little panicked, worrying there would be a drought in the summer. There was, but we seemed to have withstood it. No chance of drought this summer. We’ll be as green as leprachauns around here in July. That’s what I keep thinking — July. Someday, it will be July again.

Honestly, though, I’ve sort of forgotten what sunlight looks like.

Until this morning. The first day of February this morning, and I woke up to sunlight streaming through the bedroom blinds. As I drove to work, I kept staring at the sky, astonished at the glimmering light above the buildings. When I sat in class first period, I could hardly keep my attention on the matters at hand, because my head swivelled again and again toward the window. Soft light, everything kinder. Shadows. Actual shadows on buildings and sidewalks.


The return of the sunlight feels like a physical metaphor for my tentative return to health. My head still feels clogged with phlegm, and I sound more like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when he decided to wear a fake nose to disguise himself than I sound like Shauna. Never mind. I’m no longer confined to the couch. I don’t feel as though I’m going to cough up my lungs anymore. And I’m no longer delirious with fevers.

The rain has cleared.

Feeling better — and my enormous writing project finally finished; whoo-hoo! — I once again have time to spend quality time reading my fellow bloggers’ endeavors. I love this food-blogging community. I’ve missed you all.

I’ve found so many great posts from the past few weeks, and I’m eager to share them with you. We can all use the inspiration this time of year. Let’s break out of that winter gloom and start cooking again, everyone. It’s the first-week-of-February-gluten-free roundup.

° First on my list is the extraordinary wealth of gluten-free possibilities in the Great Quinoa Cook-Off over at Belly Timber. Last month's Paper Chef called for quinoa recipes, and people responded, in waves. Unfortunately, I was too darned busy to participate, but I did take a photograph of quinoa grains, to take the place of the dish I might have made. (You can see it at the top of this post.) Now, I want to make at least half these dishes. Not every one of them is gluten-free, but most of them are. Use your discretion and start cooking, after you stop laughing at Mrs. D's crazy sentences.

° Molly has outdone herself again. Just after Orangette was named Best Food Blog in the world -- yay for my friend! -- Molly put up this post, with scrumptious, fainting-spells-inducing photographs of Chocolate Featherweight Cookies with Walnuts and Cocoa Nibs. If you want a record of just how hallucinatory I was with high fevers last week, you can check out the comment I left, where I exclaimed that I would have to come up with a gluten-free version. Silly me -- these are naturally gluten-free. And clearly, delicious.

° If you are tiring of my references to cookies, however, and you're looking for gluten-free desserts with low-to-no sugar, check out the January 30th Sugar-Low Friday post that Sam put up at Becks & Posh. Bloggers from all over the world crafted desserts with alternative sweeteners, and some of the best are gluten-free. How about Lime Mint Flan or Lemon Flan from the lovely Bea? Or Fanny's Honey Semifreddo? Or, if you want a taste of Hawaii in the middle of winter, why not try Medjool Dates with Ricotta and Gingered Honey? Not all the recipes on Sugar-Low Friday are gluten-free, but so many of them are that it's worth your time to wander around on Sam's post. (Besides, she did such a gorgeous photo collage of them all that you have to click on it, just for that.)

Moving away from the sweets, it's time for meat. Melissa, at Traveler's Lunchbox, made a spectacular pork pate last week. The photograph alone sent me into paroxysms of happiness when I saw it. I can only imagine the sunny happiness of that first bite. Having been a vegetarian for ten years, I can also identify with Melissa's moving story of her choice to move away from eschewing meat.

Guess what? If you don't already know this, here's good news. I'm not the only gluten-free girl in Blogtown anymore. Karina, over at Gluten-Free Goddess, is doing a lovely job on her site of sharing gluten-free foods, particularly the simple, comforting foods. This recipe for Mexican Pumpkin Soup was inspired by her fellow blogger friend, FatFree Vegan Kitchen. Talk about thriving in the face of food restrictions -- going without gluten feels easy in comparison to that. Karina's version of the soup looks especially good with the chile cornbread she also concocted. See? There are plenty of us gluten-free gourmands out there.

Finally, here's a non-gluten-free post you should definitely read: David Lebovitz' loving homage to roquefort cheese. Look at the photographs at your own risk, those of you who must live gluten-free: these will make you crave the cheese. However, when you read David's explanation of how the cheese is injected with mold grown on old loaves of rye bread, you'll understand how insidiously gluten hides in places you'd never suspect. So, give a little sigh, then kiss roquefort goodbye.

I hope this round-up inspires you to cook all week long. Me? I think that after some pork pate, pumpkin soup, and cocoa nib cookies, I'll be ready to dance in the puddles and sing in the rain again.


At 10:19 PM, Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi shauna, thanks for the highly inspirational round-up - it's sending me straight into the kitchen!

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Ilva said...

Now I see why you have posting so little! All that rain drained you and How I understand you Shauna! I was thinking about maling you to se how you were, I was almost beginning to worry but now with February and then March and so on I know that you're back!

At 7:09 AM, Blogger K Allrich said...

Hola, Shauna!

Wow - how cool to see my blog mentioned in your round-up. Thanks a bunch! And thanks for mentioning Susan who inspired the Mexican Pumpkin Soup recipe. Many of her vegan recipes are also gluten-free.

Stay warm & dry now!


At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that I am going to try the Pumpkin Soup and even though you did not mention it on your site, I would like to try the Tamirand Chick Pea soup from Orangette. I need to cook some before surgery. Thanks for being inspiring. Glad to know that you are feeling better.

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,

Just reading your words makes me feel the rain! I am so glad for you it is behind and I can imagine how puzzling the experience of seeing sunshine must have been, like a piece of treat you have been looking for, or a shower you need after 2 weeks hiking! ;-)
I won't be able to follow your call to cook this week as I am emptying my fridge before our trip to New Zealand. No complaints there! Looking forward to reading your lovely stories and posts!


Enjoy the sunshine!!! I still want to visit Seattle though as I am told it is a great city surrounded my mountains and I am a real mountain girl at heart!

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

It was so great to see the sun peek its head out this morning, wasn't it? I love the rain and even I've had enough of this Seattle sludge. Hang in there, Shauna! I saw my first crocus the other day which means spring is just around the corner!

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Travis said...

I was just bumping around epicurious, and found this somewhat hidden gluten free cake recipe. check it out, it looks quite nice.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy February, Shauna! This felt like the longest January ever in Seattle; I'm glad it's over, too.

Thanks for the link to Molly's cookie recipe. One of my favorite bakeries in Houston used to sell cookies much like those, but without the cocoa nibs. I can't wait to try the recipe!

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Peggy said...

Shauna, I came across a cookbook that -- if you don't own it already -- you should: Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka. Over 650 pages of vegetable recipes, history and cooking tips. I've dogeared too many pages to number, and my grocery list is growing. Enjoy -- and keep up the good work. Your blog is always a treat!

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Rachael Narins said...

Your beautifully complex language always takes my breath away.

Stay dry!


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