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06 August 2009

feeding each other gluten-free birthday cake

Lorna's gluten-free birthday cake

I kind of wanted to punch someone last night. But he was on tv and punching the screen would have hurt.

Let me explain.

First of all, I'm exhausted. Have you ever traveled with a one-year-old? Every single movement has to be planned in advance, with contingencies in case of anything unexpected. And everything is unexpected. Like the fact that, when we reached the house in Crested Butte where the entire Ahern clan would be staying for the wedding weekend, we found that all the rooms had been divvied up already. So we three received the narrow room with bunk beds. Have you ever tried to put a squirming baby to sleep on a bunk bed? Especially one who has started doing headstands before bed, scrunching her head into the mattress and scooting up her feet until she is balancing on her skull like a break dancer? And does this again and again, giggling, until she is finally so exhausted that she flops on her back. For a moment. And then goes back to it again.

This is really quite something on a bunk bed in a room with a concrete floor.

And you really can't plan for how exhausted this wriggling baby will be after meeting all her cousins, from the 5-year-old to the 27-year-old, and winning all their hearts with charming smiles and the monkey face. (In fact, yesterday, she stood on my legs in a narrow airplane seat and made the face over my head to 1/3 of the plane. Repeatedly. At least she made people laugh.) Nap times blew by without her eyes closing. Bed time for each day became even more of a wrestling session. And after that much stimulation, Little Bean woke up nearly every hour, on the hour, all night long. Every single night of our stay.

(Cutting a new tooth didn't help. Neither did the altitude in the mountains. The soaring, "hills are alive with the sound of music" green-grassed mountains of Crested Butte and Breckenridge. Beautiful mountains. Very tall mountains. Make a small child and her mama feel short of breath for nearly a week mountains.)

There were so many moments of startling beauty in the week, which I will remember like slurps of ice-cold water in the midst of hideous heat. Strolling down the street in Crested Butte, looking at art in white tents, eating roasted olathe corn, sweet as watermelon. Hearing Cooper knock on our bedroom door at 6:07 a.m., then seeing his dark red hair peeking around the door, to see if Little Bean was awake. (She was.) Standing around the barbeque with Danny and his father, poking at the steaks as they grilled, catching up after months apart. Riding up the ski lift to the top of Peak 8 and watching Little Bean, strapped into the carrier on my chest, lift her head to look out at the red flowers beneath us and the valley stretching out behind us. Holding Danny's hand as we strolled around his hometown, and took photos in front of the house where he grew up, knowing how much our presence meant to him.

And mostly, watching this father walk his daughter down the aisle, and thinking of Danny with Little Bean someday.

Still, I have to tell you, it was good to come back. Six days is a long time to live out of a suitcase, with a baby. The water lapping against the ferry boat, after we left the airport, was a mighty fine sight. Even Little Bean broke into a big grin when she saw it. She must have wondered if we were ever going home.

This is why I was so exhausted last night while I watched television, slumped against the back of the couch, stuffed up and suffering with a sore throat. I should have been in bed, of course. Little Bean was sleeping, happy to be in her own bed. Danny and I could have dropped at 7 pm. But it was Wednesday. Top Chef night.

We're sort of addicted to Top Chef Masters around here. Reality show, it's true. I watch Top Chef, too. But this one is much better — less personal drama, more opinions about food. The show consists of some of the top chefs in the country submitting themselves to quick cooking challenges and entire meals, pitted against fellow chefs and doing their best. We watch on the edge of our seats, especially Danny, just to see what each chef will do.

It's chef soap opera. There you go. And in our minds, it was well worth staying up past our bedtime.

Last night, when the (vapid) female host announced the challenge, several of the chefs groaned. Why? There were food restrictions. They were cooking for a young actress, who is vegan, cannot eat soy, and is gluten intolerant. Gluten? Mentioned on Top Chef? Cool.

You see, I would like to write for weeks without ever typing the phrase "gluten-free." Most days, as we go about our routine, I think about life without gluten in theory alone. There's no deprivation here. Tonight, since it's my birthday, Danny made an especially elaborate meal: rib-eyes, cold smoked and then grilled; turmeric mashed potatoes; grilled Yakima corn; chocolate cake and roasted peaches. Surely no one would feel deprived with that meal. Would you?

However, when I'm away from the routine of our lives, and in the in between places — gas stations; school cafeterias; stopping in a small town in the middle of a road trip — I remember how hard it can be to live gluten-free. Searching for breakfast at the airport yesterday, I found that the only thing I could eat was a plastic-wrapped container of fruit, mushy pieces of canteloupe and white-centered strawberries picked months ago. Everything else was breaded and fried or covered in flour. (Do other people realize that they are eating wheat with every single meal?) I resigned myself to pale green melon slices and three hours of flying before I could eat again.

Even that is temporary in comparison to the health I feel. Most times, I go back to my life and revel instead of dwelling.

Last night, however, my guard was down. After finally watching the baby drift off to sleep, I wanted to put my feet up and watch some television instead.

And so some of the chefs groaned when they found out they had to work with food restrictions. Michael Chiarello (who I hope is less of a jerk in life than he seemed on tv) spent half the episode grumbling about how hard he had to work. All he could focus on was the food he could not cook to make sure he won the challenge. "Can I use beef? NO. Great cheese? NO. Pasta? NO."

That's when I wanted to punch him. Hard.

Food has become such a spectacle in parts of this culture. It's competition, entertainment, cultural benchmark, and trump card, to some. When did we forget that food is not only how we are fed, but we feel fed, as well?

When I met Danny, he impressed me no end, but not with his menus of foie gras and champagne. Instead, he told me, when I asked him why he is a chef: "I like to give people joy in the belly."

Those of you who groan when you hear your guests cannot eat certain foods, because you will be put out and have to work harder to put together a meal? Why are you throwing a dinner party in the first place? Because you want to impress everyone with your selections?

And anyone who caters weddings and insists you cannot accommodate any food restrictions at all, because you don't want to have to work that hard for two or three guests? Why did you go into this business? To dispense three carrots and a piece of salmon the size of a spoon to make a profit on food costs?

Why isn't the work of feeding people a thoughtful joy instead of competition and cost?

Why should those of us who are trying to keep ourselves healthy and enjoy a meal with our friends be made to feel like the last kid picked for the kickball game?

I'm pretty good at kickball, it turns out.

And it turns out that the actress who did not eat meat, dairy, gluten, or soy was so overjoyed by the meal she ate that she nearly cried on the show. She liked Chiarello's pasta best, even though it didn't match his ideas of a good meal. (And the quinoa pasta he chose clumped up. There are better pastas than quinoa out there.) I haven't eaten pasta in such a long time, she said. I feel like I'm home.

Michael Chiarello, if you are reading this (and I know there's not much chance of that) — I hope you somehow take in the fact that the meal you disparaged because it wouldn't make you look good? It made that young woman feel joy in the belly. You, sir, have a lot to learn.

Chiarello could learn a lot from my friend, Lorna Yee. Passionate about food and not restricted in anything she eats, Lorna is a force of nature. Her blog, The Cookbook Chronicles, has become meteorically popular as she recounts testing recipes for her upcoming book, visiting the best restaurants in Seattle, and learning how to take better photographs of food. You wait and see — Lorna will be on tv one day, talking with others about the meals we eat. That woman can do anything.

Including make a gluten-free birthday cake for me, Danny, and Little Bean, a couple of weeks ago. That's the photograph you see above — a lemon cake with Pierre Herme lemon cream in the middle and a raspberry-cream cheese frosting on top. Lorna (like Danny, like so many other chefs, including Rick Bayless last night) found cooking gluten-free an exciting challenge, rather than an onerous task. She likes to feed people.

She certainly fed me, happily. This is the best birthday cake I have ever tasted.

Last night, when I wanted to punch Michael Chiarello in the face, I just remembered Lorna's cake, the lemon tang, the sweetness of the raspberry frosting. And mostly, how Lorna fed me. How much she made me feel loved.

Remembering that, and being able to share that with you? Better than any tv show, to be sure.

(But seriously? I'm good at kickball. Don't get in my way.)

Lorna's birthday cake II

Lorna's Lemon-Raspberry Birthday cake, reprinted with permission from The Cookbook Chronicles

This is Lorna's recipe and writing. She was inspired by the recipe for carrot cake that Danny and I have created for our cookbook, as well as some of the lessons I have learned about baking gluten-free. Lorna told me she does not mind that I share the recipe with you, here.

However, you should keep looking at her website, The Cookbook Chronicles, for more recipes and stories to inspire you. Seriously, Lorna amazes me, every day.

serves a happy, cake-loving crowd

1/2 cup each of sorghum flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch (all available at Whole Foods!)
3/4 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 tsp lemon zest
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 tsp Cointreau
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, guar gum, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Lower the speed to medium, and add the eggs one by one, mixing until combined after each addition. Add the lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and Cointreau. Beat in the dry ingredients, and then beat in the sour cream until the batter is combined. (Don’t worry if the lemon juice has caused everything to look a little curdled–this will happen.) The texture of the batter at this point is runnier than a traditional cake batter, and that’s exactly right!

Grease and line two 9″ cake pans and divide the batter between them evenly. Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. Let cool, then unmold. The cakes need to be completely cooled before filling and frosting.

For the lemon cream, I use Pierre Hermé’s lovely lemon cream recipe. A half-recipe is all you need to fill the cake, and then the rest is leftovers for you to spoon into your mouth. Don’t be put off by the lengthy directions in this recipe–I never strain the zest out (though I use a microplane so the zest is extremely fine), and I don’t use the blender to whip extra air into the cream. Instead, I keep it in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisking ever 1-2 minutes as I clean up the kitchen. Incorporate the butter into the hot lemon mixture bit by bit, whisking after each addition. (This is the more traditional way of making lemon curd, and it works for this recipe.) It’ll thicken after about 15-18 minutes. But if you’re up for the task of doing it PH’s way, it will turn out perfectly as well!

For the raspberry cream cheese frosting:
makes enough frosting for one 9″ cake
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Cointreau

Beat everything together until smooth, and apply liberally over the entire cake.


At 11:23 PM, Blogger Lydia said...

I too was overjoyed to learn that there would be gluten free cooking on TV. I also cringed at the Quinoa pasta, there are such better options out there. I adore your blog, and am thrilled to see that gluten free living is slowly but surely becoming part of the main steam.

At 12:34 AM, Blogger KevinJAuld said...

I too watched Top Chef Masters last night, and was appalled at the moans and groans of these "master chefs" when they were made to cook without wheat and meat. What a bunch of babies. I was however pleased with Rick Bayless, the master of Mexican food, creating a beautiful meal of black beans and tamales.

I also loved the young actress's reaction to the food. Truly appreciative and grateful.

To add a little bit of insult to injury - Michael Chiarello's quinoa pasta dish was the winning dish, and is now featured on the Top Chef Masters website, with a recipe and video instruction. I'm sure it was a fine dish, but I would have been more impressed if he had made the pasta himself! The quinoa noodles were store bought.

Aside from all of this, the part that bummed me out was the negative portrayal of gluten free, meat free, dairy free foods on this great show, to a national audience. I'd love to see these great chefs embrace the challenge and have fun with it! They might learn something.

There are SO many cooking shows on tv now, I'm just waiting for one to come along that showcases allergen free cooking.

On a side note. I did see an episode of Dinner Impossible, where the chef was forced to cook a dinner for 1200 guests without the use of salt, sugar or oil. And he pulled it off! The Top Chef Masters could take a lesson from him.

Thanks GFG. I hope you have your own tv show someday :) I'd watch it every week.

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Anne said...

Oh silly silly man. Which makes you look worse? Serving food someone can relax and enjoy eating, or looking like a curmudgeonly git on television?

I understand the pressure of being on such a show, but surely someone who really loved food would relish the challenge.

And as for the actress 'coming home' - I had that last week. I was stranded with 45 min to kill waiting for the bus with my children (5 & 7 - the 7 year old is Coeliac, as am I). The stop was just outside a teashop, so we went in. It was one of those with several shelves of homemade cakes next to the till to choose from to eat with your tea. As usual I edited it out of the 'possible things to eat' category and tried to find something pre-wrapped and gluten-free. I was a little surprised to discover that there was nothing along those lines available as the shop was advertising gluten-free bread outside. So I asked. THE WHOLE STAND OF CAKES WAS GLUTEN-FREE! Sorry to shout, but WOW! There were about 10 different kinds of cake. It still makes me well up to think about it. To be able to go into a teashop and have us all choose a different cake and all swap bits to taste. How incredibly 'normal', and how incredibly special.

At 3:14 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I WANT some of that cake!!! What a gorgeous idea for frosting....mmmm lovely pink colour. I shall have to make up some occasion so I can make it myself. Can we see pictures of Danny's chocolate cake too?
happy birthday to all of you!

p.s. Shauna, could you do a sort of "essentials of gluten free baking" post sometime? with important tips and points... I keep falling into the trap of following ordinary recipes but substituting GF flour. I KNOW I probably shouldn't be but I have no idea how to improve - which is where a baking post would come in handy!

Roz xxxx

At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope this doesn't get taken the wrong way, but as a vegan who is gluten intolerant it's a lot easier to eat gf than vegan- not that comparing is really productive or useful. I enjoy reading your website, but remembering that would be lovely. I can't imagine how hard it is without soy though... or having to travel with a one year old!! I relate to your 'at home is one thing, the airport is another' and never go anywhere without a strong supply of snacks.

I know a lot of people may jump down my throat for the comparison between vegan and gluten allergy (ie. vegans choose to be vegan), which i understand, but I bet you'll never meet a vegan who views it as a choice. I hope that makes sense. In no way do I intend for this to be an attack, merely conversation fodder/debate.


ps. your hash browns have evolved into veggie burgers at this house- we got lazy and make mash potato instead of grating and add carrot and zuchini in it too! It also makes waaay less mess, but is less crispy, so you have to weigh up that choice. Without your original recipe we never would've worked out how to do it for dinner about 3 times a week! thankyou for our standby lazy after work dinner!

At 4:08 AM, Blogger Clare said...

I am pretty picky about cake. It's my favorite type of dessert in all the world.
I ate that cake at your party and, honestly, have not stopped thinking about it. It was one of the best cakes I have every had-If not THE best. (Notice I did not say "one of the best gluten-free cakes"....this was simply one of the best cakes that also happened to be gluten-free.)

I am so happy Lorna (and now you) posted that recipe so that I can make it myself and enjoy it again.


At 4:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shauna, this was one of your best posts! I can relate to this, from your trip to your feelings on the gluten subject. The cake looks delicious and thanks to Lorna for her kindness in sharing it. Wouldn't it be nice if FoodNetWork would bring on a cook who could put on a gluten-free show? Just wait, there is coming a day when the rest of the world won't have a choice but to live with gluten-free. The bells are ringing and gluten-free will become the norm. Happy Birthday! Hope you get over your illness shortly.

At 5:09 AM, Blogger Amanda said...

Hi Shauna,

I absolutely LOVE your blog. I am such a fan of your writing, and as a gluten free gal myself, I really enjoy reading what you have to say on the topic. I too tire of people acting like gluten free is such a drain on one's life, I quite enjoy eating this way, and I have wondered the same thing as you as the airport about whether people realize they eat wheat at every single meal, I've had many a mushy fruit cup myself!

At 5:20 AM, Blogger Katya Kosiv said...

Last night before bed, I wondered what I was going to do for gluten free birthday cake and voila! my answer arrived in the morning. Thank you. And I agree with you, eating is an exciting endeavor for me now. I don't get sick anymore and I really enjoy food.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I haven't seen that episode yet, but I have been wishing for a food restrictions challenge on Top Chef since its inception!

I am a mostly-vegan-vegetarian with lots of gluten-free friends, so many of my meals present that exact challenge and you said it so well: cooking should be about joy and love and feeding people well, not about how good the meal makes the chef look.

Hooray for all the adventurous, kind, creative chefs in the world!


At 5:53 AM, Blogger B said...

Hi Shauna. Glad you said that. As a person who is gluten and acid free (no lemons, tomatoes, berries, vinegar, etc. etc. etc), I was thrilled to see that type of challenge on Top Chef Masters, and SO disappointed by the response to it.

I could tick off a bunch of creative things they could have made, so it was very disheartening to hear the responses. And WHAT was with that dessert????

Too bad you don't have Zoe Deschanel's number - she should taste some of the stuff that you and Danny make!


At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Ana said...

Glad you had such a wonderful time and that you survived traveling with a 1 yr old !! BTDT and agree that its exhausting!

Regarding the cooking show - I ROFL when I read "Can I use beef? NO. Great cheese? NO. Pasta? NO."
Cause that was me for how long now? LOL! I can empathize with Michael Chiarello , the first time I was faced with my gluten & tomato challenge, realizing I couldn't use my fave ingredients, I was very disoriented. It took me months to be comfortable with this change.

Thanks for this blog - its good to be reminded that there are many foods we CAN eat which are wonderful, yummy and joyful. ♥

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous beyond said...

yes, people have a lot to learn.
slightly related: airline food. it's fairly easy to oder some special meals: vegetarian, vegan, gf, low sodium, kosher, halal. but! my mother had two 20-hour flights this summer and was unable to get gf vegetarian food. i called the -usually exceptional- airline myself; the nice representative at the other end seemed amazed at our problem. (it wasn't her fault of course, there was no way for her to put the request into their system.)
end rant.

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Melissa S said...

Love this post! I too have often felt like the last one picked for the team. But, just as often, I've found that those cooking for me will find gluten-free (and dairy-free and vegetarian) to be an exciting challenge. Give my mom a food restriction and she's fascinated - she'll experiment with recipes for weeks. The caterer for our wedding was the same way.

To be fair, Michael Chiarello's comments may have been exaggerated due to editing. Nonetheless, I think someone who truly loves to cook would enjoy the opportunity to cook with new rules. And it's the ability to adapt to those rules that would make someone look good.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Beautiful cake! Thanks for sharing.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Farty Girl said...

Amen, Momma! I've been working all summer in a restaurant, and I can tell you... the chefs GROAN when food restrictions come into the kitchen. One throws things. It's incredibly annoying. Perhaps there is a bit too much of the "eater" in some chefs, and not enough of the "feeder".

I'm sure that you are like me, as a cook (if I can even call myself one). When cooking for non-gluten-free people, you ask what they like best and try to satisfy that first. That's our job!

At 7:06 AM, Blogger maggiegracecreates said...

aShauna, I have been a reader for a really long time now. My daughter is dating a young man who's mom has lupus and celiac. I have gone to your cookbook and your blog again and again for recipes and meal ideas that feed her. My daughter is learning to feed her as well from your sources and links.

No one feels deprived - everyone eats with gusto and joy. It is a wonderful experience.

I recreated your pork and plum sauce recipe and substituted chicken for the meat. It has now become a requested meal at our house. Thank you for this beautiful spot to come, visit, and learn.

I see the extra preparation of special meals as a priviledge, much like your husband does.

Thank you

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Juanita said...

Here here! :-) We could all do with more joy in the belly...whether it's from well-made gluten-free food or beautiful laughter (hopefully, generous lashings of both). Thank you for a spirited and well-written post.

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was thrilled for a moment to see allergies and gluten issues being spoken of at last on one of these shows (my REAL dream? An episode of Iron Chef where the cloth is pulled back and the words "CeLiAC" come screeching out of the Chairman). I love Rick B's calm "I can do this" - there is a reason one of the books I picked up along with the gluten-free cookbooks (your book was top on the stack!) was a solid Mexican cookbook.

But Italian boy? I just wanted to SMACK.

I hope it is okay, but I've added a link you your page from my new blog. If it is a problem, let me know. I'll pull down the link.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Jennywenny said...

That looks totally delicious! I'm just getting into the world of baking and making cakes for people and I love a challenge, I love to try vegan/gluten free, any kind of challenge is fun for me. The thing that I really worry about is that I might make someone sick with a tiny contamination or an unknown ingredent.

I hope that the groaning from these chefs was actually the fact that they were a little scared of trying to make sure that they didnt make the actress sick.

At 8:12 AM, Blogger Cove Girl said...

I hear ya. My friends around here are mostly really good about making sure to include me in their cooking, but when I have to leave my bubble it really stresses me out. And even my bros in CA have taken note in the local whole food market of where it is I can go to next time I'm visiting, dear boys. However, as much as I can't wait to see my friend get married in September, the thought of going to St. Louis, where everyone eats fried food, does not thrill my soul. I haven't come up wit my contingency plan yet. I hope to soon.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Susan said...

I raised my hands in celebration and laughed when I read that it was Michael Chiarello that inspired you to violence. While I've surprisingly enjoyed his previous performances on Top Chef Masters, I came into it with a chip on my shoulder. His Food Network shows struck me as smarmy.

Getting stuck with bunk beds and a 1 year old blows. Get some well-deserved, hopefully sweat free rest.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Lauren said...

Most definitely, food and people are the whole point of being a chef, at least in my mind. So shouldn't people, especially professionals be excited to find new ways of cooking and new genres of people to cater to? I guess everyone processes differently.

Traveling to me is one of the exciting parts about being gluten free, as you never know what you may find. Every little town has something, even if they don't know it. Like a local set of mixes or a pasta place that happens to have one gluten free pasta. Maybe there will even be an entire restaurant that is gluten free, you never know. And, you can always bring some snacks and backups, just in case =D.

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Alissa said...

(I'm sorry if you get this 3 times, I'm having some problems with the OpenID option).
Thank you so much for this! While I don't watch Top Chef (I don't even own a TV!), the sentiments you express are so familiar. Why can't people focus on what I *can* eat rather than on what I can't? I do it every day!

At 8:48 AM, Anonymous La Niña said...

You said it, sister! And Happy Birthday, too.

I don't get any tv reception on the island, so I'm blissfully in the dark. But not with food- you know that less is more. I don't miss wheat one bit. We eat better now than before Booth's diagnosis.

Danny is a lovely genius. You are a lovely force of nature. (and a genius too)

Don't forget that in words, as well as ingredients- you don't need to use all of them to make something spectacular. (Like "Where the Wild Things Are.")

Now I'm going to make a GF French-crumb topped blueberry pie, and then we are going to drop our crab pots... fingers crossed and we'll be eating crab tacos tonight! No wheat. No problem.

The cake is beautiful- and you CAN eat it, too.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger j.cro said...

Dear Shauna,
I found your site from clicking around Good Bite - I am in love with your writing and photos. Thank you so much!!!

I love Top Chef but haven't been following the Masters series too closely - too many other things going on or I can't stay awake. I'll have to check out this episode on a re-run.

Thank you again for sharing your stories and experiences - it makes living the g/f life a little easier for all of us.

Take good care!

At 9:11 AM, Blogger nicole said...

I completely agree with you. As a vegetarian, I eat so great and I never feel deprived -- I feel lucky, in fact, that I get to live in a country where I have oh-so-many options. And I've been cooking low-fat/sometimes vegan for my dad for years because he's on a low-cholesterol diet, and I've never seen it as a chore; rather, it's a fun challenge to come up with new stuff he'll like that's also healthful.

I've never baked gluten-free but I'm almost hoping to have a friend who can't have gluten just to give me an excuse! :) I think just feeding someone delicious food is one of life's most beautiful joys. It's unfortunate this guy can't see that.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Ashley Gibson said...

Happy birthday lovely! And congratulations on making it through travel with little bean. You are so impressive!

I haven't been watching this show, but after hearing this I'm not sure that I want to. As someone who eats gluten and dairy free (and nearly vegan at this point), I recognize that it can be challenging to eat this way, but I don't let that stop me! I love answering the question "but what do you eat?" The chef should have viewed the actress' food intolerances as a challenge and a way to shine and focus on his culinary abilities rather than groan about the whole thing.

Cooking really is about the joy you're able to bring to people. Food can be a wonderful thing when you bring passion and creativity to the table and this Chef clearly missed the memo on that.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Angie said...

As someone who is neither gluten-intolerant or vegan, I too was put off by Chiarello's attitude. I remember your honeymoon posts and how you raved about Italy being, surprisingly, a veritable treasure trove of gluten-free foods. You would think, then, that someone who is such an expert in Italian cooking would have no problem adapting to gf.

That's what I get for thinking, I suppose :)

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! That cake looks amazing!

Have you read Micheal Pollan's latest article for the NYTimes on cooking shows? It was very interesting, they really have become more about being impressive displays and less about feeding people with joy. Here is the link!

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Teresa said...

Dear Shauna
I've been reading your post for a while and I love it! I don't have a food restriction (well not yet) but I love to experience all the food, especially the ones made with love. I agree with you, I also wanted to strangle Michael Chiarello! and I adored Rick Bayless, one of these days I'll manage to get to one of his restaurants in Chicago. Anyways I agree with you that so many things of life have become "soul-less" for lack of a better word and I'm also disappointed that preparing a meal and sharing it has become that way too, that's why I love your blog because it is so alive, it provides a way for people like me who got lost into the "one-size-fit-all" world come back into a world where we are free to be our selves, to experiment, to enjoy what mother nature is sharing with us and in turn share that with our loves ones. Thank you for showing me another way.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Susan said...

I guess I've been celiac and GF so long (54 years) that it just doesn't get under my skin. I watched Top Chef Masters and wasn't offended at all. *shrug*

I'm delighted when I can find something GF...if it's delicious. To echo the comments of the writer who was surprised to find a whole shelf of GF cakes, I'm reminded of a trip to a restaurant in Massachusetts. I questioned the waiter about something in the salad, and she asked, "Are you gluten free?" I admitted I was. She said, "would you like a gluten-free roll?"

I said, "Really?"

and then, "REALLY?"

After quite a while I was brought a GF roll that was merely OK, but I was so grateful (and surprised) that they knew, and cared.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Jenny said...

I need to watch that recorded episode tonight. Wow. I can hardly wait but three little grand-children waiting for their Momma will not allow it for several hours. But, you know, I think everyone can cook what they know and do it masterfully. It's how you take on the challenge of change that delineates a true culinary genius. Give me the challenge anyday. I like to learn. I like to grow. I like to experience new tastes and methods and diets. Shame on the Napa boy according to your post. And good for you for having such a lovely birthday.

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shauna - Happy Birthday!

Just a note about eating on airplanes or at airports...the food on airplanes makes me sick, and because I try and eat healthy I don't eat anything breaded or fried, so when I travel I pack food.

My travel staples are:
Protein Powder – most of the good ones that mix easily using a spoon are gluten free. My favorite is Isopure by Nature’s Best. This product also comes in single serving packages, easy to pack in your purse! The isopure can be mixed with water, but if it’s all that you’re going to eat mix it with some milk.
Protein Bars – there are quite a few that are gluten free and again your can stash them in your purse.
Beef Jerky – You can buy prepackaged gluten free jerky but I am sure your Chef could make you some better tasting varieties.

I have made it on international flights with only the above and milk or fruit on the plane.


At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The moans and groans weren't just about gluten free cooking, but also the restriction on animal products. Ironic that the recipe you provided included eggs, butter, and sour cream, which would not have been acceptable in the Top Chef competition.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

I watched that show too, and I think Michael Chiarello is coming off as an *ss. I think of him as the Draco Malfoy of the competition. :)

Anyway, I was thinking that little old me, home cook, who has never taken a cooking class in her life (except home ec.), who is not gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian, could make a number of my favorite dishes that fit the bill of last night's challenge. It was kind of depressing to see world class chefs find this meal a challenge to prepare.

BTW I am loving Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller on the show. I also like Anita Lo. But I think it's really between Rick and Hubert for the title -- they have such different styles but both are so masterful.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Shauna--I am SOOOO with you about Michael Chiarello! Even if his pasta that he whined his way through making was delicious, his attitude should have prevented him from winning. Especially when Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller just dove right in, Rick even said that he had a gluten free relative he used to cook for--wife? daughter? so it was no problem for him. They both made what looked like gorgeous and tasty food within the guidelines, not some substitute for what they REALLY wanted to make.

I love the point you make that cooking should be so people love to eat. That's what Rick Bayless is all about. He loves Mexican food and has dedicated his life to bringing that love to Americans. Just like you bring your love of food to everyone, especially gluten-intolerant individuals, although I'm not, and I just love the way you write.

I wrote a comment on the Top Chef website and referenced your blog--maybe Michael Chiarello will see it.

Thank you for your love of food and for letting us be a part of your world.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Vincci said...

Great post! I don't have cable so unfortunately can't watch Top Chef Masters, and I'm surprised to hear the chefs groaned at Zooey Deschanel's dietary restrictions. Tomorrow I am hosting a potluck at my house and have a guest who used to be vegan, but had to switch to vegetarianism after finding out she was allergic to a variety of foods - nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers), some beans, bananas. I was excited for the challenge of finding something to accommodate and am going to be making a vegetarian casserole from 101 Cookbooks and some blueberry boy bait for dessert. I'm stoked!

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Ginny the Sock Monkey said...

Oh, you make me so happy! I love your comment about joy in your tummy... that is why I cook.

About those moans and groans on Top Chef Masters, I suppose when there is so much pressure on a person to make the "perfect" dish (as if there was a perfect dish...) then there is a chance for breeding grumpiness...

I am not gluten-free, but am wheat free and eat as closely to gluten-free as I can. I enjoy your blog so much, and am always inspired by the love and joy with which you infuse your writing and recipes. Thanks for your posts, and keep up the good work.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Inch by Inch said...

Your post reminded me of the time we visited India with our then 12 monthy old daughter. We stayed 2.5 months, made many road trips, and I agree that no matter what you plan, there are surprises. (Like running out of diapers half way through a 6 hour drive back to the city, and having to use t-shirts out of the suitcase to swaddle your child instead). I flew back from that trip with my hyper (spirited) child ALONE through 3 layovers including a 12 hour one in Singapore. Yeah. That was fun. Which is why, when we had baby #2, I told the IL's we were not under any circumstances flying there until both children were fully potty trained. So they came to visit us for 2.5 months instead.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

I found this blog not too long after my best friend was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. I saw your spot on FN, and was so excited, I googled you, and e-mailed her right away. I love to cook, and have always viewed cooking for my best friend (vegan in addition to gluten free) a fun challenge. I love being able to feed her something yummy and wonderful. I know some chefs get upset and angry over restrictions and it baffles me. If you are a good enough cook, you should be able to cook for everyone.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Rhonda Lewis said...

What a great post - I feel like we're in the same room talking! The bunk bed thing is too funny. We've tried sleeping on bunk beds before - DOESN't work! That cake looks incredibly delicious too!

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

Thank you! I, too, just returned home from a week of travel - hiking and camping for me, and aside from the joy of sleeping in a bed again, I am SO thrilled to be home where I have a kitchen full of delicious, safe foods! I spent the whole week before our trip cooking and organizing to bring all of my own food for a week in the wild - and it was exhausting!

I can't wait to catch up on Top Chef - sounds like once again Rick & Hubert prove that they're class acts! And even if some of the chefs were less than gracious in their acceptance of the challenge - it's wonderful to see TC tackle gluten-free!

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks so delightful! I can't wait to try it (and to try it without eggs).

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Sarah Kushner said...

I just found your blog in searching for gluten free recipes for my daughter. I'm glad I found you... I was worried that gluten free would be really hard... but I was really glad to find it wasn't.

As far as the show... its sad to know that these chefs have this attitude. I was really disappointed with another chef on TV a while back for panning a vegetarian diet. I don't get it... Anytime anyone comes to my house for dinner I ask if they have an allergy... Most chefs have no problem being accomodating to shellfish allergies... why is gluten get the bad attitude?

In my personal opinion, I think more professional chefs are going to have to shift their opinions and ways of cooking, considering the number of allergies on the rise. At my daughters day care there is a wall of warnings for many of the kids there... and several children are allergic to peanuts, dairy and wheat... someday all these kids will be adults...These chefs will have to adapt for their future patrons

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Gluten free Kay said...

I missed the show, but still have sympathy for the chefs. I remember feeling like I had my hands tied behind my back when I first started cooking gluten free. All I saw then was roadblocks. Now I see the road, but the adjustment took some time.

I remember reading your blog when I was newly gluten free and thinking, "How can she be so happy about food?!" All the gluten free bloggers were upbeat. It was a mystery at the time.

As my body healed, my brain healed, too. Now it's on automatic pilot, finding detours everywhere. I am happy about food again.

At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Lisa16 said...

I too watched that episode in awe. Did you notice that the top two scores both had gf people in their families-- MC's wife and Rick's daughter. But to me, the real star was Hubert Keller who made a great beet salad, a cucumber gazpacho and an avocado timbale. The recipe for the beet salad and mango dressing he used are on the Bravo site.

I thought MC's comment "this pasta is weird" was hilarious. And I thought the complaining (AS's "I am not comfortable cooking for food allergies") was amusing because that is the attittde I see so often. And Art Smith went down for buying rice dream ice cream instead of making something. If only he had seen your cake recipe! He would have won.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous alison said...

Yes, Shauna! Well said!
I recently met with a caterer to discuss my husband's birthday party. I have celiac and my husband is gluten intolerant and has been gluten-free for 6 years. When I told the caterer the entire meal must be gluten-free, his first reactions were that it is hard, and that I was depriving the guests at the party! Like I would have food served at my husband's birthday party that we couldn't eat! It is such a weird reaction to have.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Chef Fresco said...

Oh man, sounds like you have a whirlwind wedding week. I'm sure everyone appreciated you being there though. Your cake looks extremely delicious too.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yes... M.C. is as much of an ass in person, as he is on tv! More so! Officially... a food snob...... Trust me. I've worked for him. And I'm dairy free, gluten free, and vegetarian (I can't call myself vegan because I still eat eggs, and occasionally good aged parmesean cheese). He would cringe at the thought that I tainted his restaurants by bringing in my own gf pizza crust and having the chefs in the back make a gf/df pizza. Divine. The food was always great in the restaurants,and I loved the group I worked with... but.....

At 12:00 PM, Blogger שלומית נעים נאור said...


I am reading you for a while now.

I love your writing.

I love the way you pick words to describe food.

I love the way you share with us your thoughts.

thank you.

(its my birthday next week, I hope my boyfriend will bake me a cake)

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Kanani said...

Thank you!
We're starting to experiment with different flours and starches.
This cake looks lovely --very light.

I have a very severe reaction to shellfish, dairy and sulfites. Once I went on a small cruise, and the "cook" asked about food allergies. So I listed mine. Lo and behold they used no imagination, and so the meals were drab and when someone asked why there was no wine, they blamed it on me. I told them there are plenty of sulfite-free wines, they just had to look.

So I think Chiarelli's response showed to me a cook of someone who really hasn't taken the time to learn about food ingredients in the fullest sense.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Kelly Erby said...

I was really annoyed with Top Chef too and I came here to see if you had already voiced my disgruntlement. Of course you had, and wonderfully. I was irked by everyone on the show-- including Z.D. She kept saying she was used to eating "raw vegetables." Seriously? If that's true then she must be crazy. The chefs, despite their complaining, put together great dishes with relative ease. I assumed Michael Charello's comments were meant in a more light hearted way, but yeah, annoying. And annoying that he used that quinoa pasta.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Kanani said...

Michael Ruhlman posted something on bread. Toward the end of the comments, a few weighed in on the gluten-free needs.

There are more than a few doubters.
So I just intoned wondering why Americans don't have more knowledge about various starches and flours? I mean, when I was a kid, I remember eating wonderful Japanese pastries made of rice flour. Maybe they just never had the experience. But now, we can do even more.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will shamefully admit I was one of those people who tsk-tsk'd/rolled eyes when people launched into a list of "cannot eats". I was under the wrong impression that people were making these allergies up and their squeamish behavior for fat, meat and whatnot came off as their being spoiled and ignorant. Well Shauna, your insightful and beautiful writing knocked my blinders right off. I have loved cooking for people since I was a little kid for the same reason you state--because I love making people happy through food. How could I be so blind to not realize that passion means accomodating/being tolerant of those individuals with food restrictions? It seems so obvious, and yet, after reading your post, I feel guilty for not seeing my own hypocrisy. No more! thank you.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the show! I've been GF for almost 3 years, and I hate when people whine about having to deal with our family's food restrictions. I was able to cater a weekend for teenagers (about 200) and 5 of them had dairy/gluten/peanut/bean/pea/orange allergies (The combines list, not all 5 kids). I had a blast planning meals that worked for all 200 kids. I love to be the "cool" chef!

At 7:29 PM, Blogger Patiently waiting said...

Happy Birthday! That cake looks delicious!

At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Amy Green (Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free) said...

I couldn't agree more about not feeling deprived. The food we eat is incredible. My husband (who can eat gluten) looked at me tonight, over a big bowl of chicken stew and gf biscuits, and said, "Honey, these are the best biscuits I've ever had. I can't believe they're gluten-free." I must concur that they were the best I've ever had, too.

We have the same experience traveling and even sometimes just dining out locally. It can be a chore.

I remember a post you wrote a while ago about seeing a girl in the store who was on her first GF shopping trip. You explained how confused she looked and how it triggered memories of your first trip to the store to buy GF foods. It made me think of mine, too.

Experiencing such a great loss, being forced to find another way to live, and then finding the richness of life again is something not all people have been lucky enough to experience. I'm grateful that we have that richness today. Maybe others will find it, too, and if not - hey, it's their loss.

At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've gained much by reading your blog, although it's my husband who has celiac, not me. I might be able to give a little back, finally, since it seems like you have at least some ability to eat oats.

Today, we got a free sample of a Luna Cookie, berry pomegranate flavor. My husband looked sad, like he always does around baked goods... until we read the ingredients and saw nothing with gluten (it's oats and rice))!! He braced himself for it be yucky, but he LOVED it.

They're a little pricey, naturally, but he can EAT them, so of course we'll be buying them. :-)

At 3:57 AM, Blogger Littles said...

Happy Birthday!!
I live on Cape Cod, MA. This is the second summer for farmers markets here. I was walking by a bread stand the other day, at the end of the day, the baker had out gluten free cakes and breads which he basically gave me for $1.
He's trying to start up a gf business. I directed him to your site for help with recipes. I didn't tell him his bread was horrific, but the cake was incredible!
My brother who rarely eats anything baked was thrilled for a treat. I'm glad to see people trying to help, it balances out the idiots like MC.

At 5:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just returned from a beach trip with a large group of family and friends. I love them all but it was hard to cook in that large group and stay GF. I felt as though people thought I was picky and over the top with my requests to be careful about cross contamination. My daughter (4 years)and I both have CD. I yearned for some love and understanding in the kitchen. I found it comforting to read your recent post. Thanks!

Food, cooking, love, soul- it is all tangled up together for me and I know you get it!


At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My birthday is August 10th and guess what I am going to try now? Raspberries are perfect. As I read through the recipe I could feel my face muscles concentrating, and then by the lemon cream squinting and finally at the raspberries grinning and a little happy bubble of anticipation welling inside me. Just reading the recipe is enough to give me joy. So...Thank You!
As for Silly Chiarello, for a chef this is tragic news indeed. Only persons who do not truely know food would be baffled by the gluten dilemma. I notice that the gift of celiac is that you get to know food, ALL foods, in fact, I would say you get to become an ambassador of food. I like to think that this is something chefs everywhere have actualized long ago. Sadly it looks like some are missing not only the fullness of others joy, but the fullness of the joy they can glean for themselves.

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

I don't often offer up my opinion online, but I have to make a comment this time. I am registered sanitarian by profession (a health inspector to most people) and am also GF. Most state food safety regulations require the person in charge to know what foods on their menu have the most common allergens in them so they can help their patrons find something on the menu they can eat. So far that list only has wheat, not gluten on it. So most of those chefs should already have some background on allergens and should already have come up with dishes that are made especially for allergic and food sensitive people.

Unfortunatley, the usual approach is to just eliminate everything on the menu with that allergen in it instead of using some creativity to come up with a delicious alternative. So what you get is meat without sauce of any kind, bland salads, plain vegetables, etc.

The bigger problem is ordering a food you think should be OK, then finding out later that it had gluten in it. When inspecting, I often read labels in the storage areas. I have found chili with wheat flour in it and chicken salad with bread crumbs in it. Marinades are notorious for having wheat laden soy sauce in them. Many suaces come in already made. This isn't necessarily the fault of the people in the kitchen. It's because the food is made in some central commisary, brought to the restaurant and then all the cooks do is heat it or serve it.

This is why I always seek out restaurants where everything is made from scratch. Even then, you have to ask if their sauces, salads, and meats have any nasties in them, but since they make them, they usually know.

But the worse place I have been served food is when I was in the hospital. You would think since they have a dietician making the menus and calling the shots, they could come up with something for a GF person to eat! I have many times been brought a meal that consisted of juice, coffee and milk! Nothing else! There really is no excuse for this. But I have often found that dieticians are not the person to learn from about food allergy and sensitivity free eating. They, of all people, should have more of a clue! I actually had a dietician tell me commercial tomato soup was OK for me to eat! It was on the list given me as their way of educating a person on their diet restrictions! I feel so sorry for people who have somebody like this guiding them on their food choices.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Monkey said...

My husband doesn't have any gluten issues, but he is allergic to many other things, including dairy, eggs, fish and nuts.

Before I brought him home to meet my parents for the first time, I gave my mom a list of his restricted foods. She looked at it, sighed heavily and said "I just hate cooking for picky people".

Grrr. Allergic/intolerant is not the same thing as picky.

His allergies have forced me to branch out as a cook, which improves the health of both of us.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I knew there was a reason I love Rick Bayless so much! And what is that actress doing not eating pasta? I'm a middle class teenage celiac and I eat pasta all the time. Tinkyada = gf pasta love.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger im1truthteller said...

I can't express how grateful I am to have found your website....and you....and Little Bean.....and the Chef! And...and...and... so much more.
Thank you Shauna.
Thank you.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Happy Birthday!

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Julie said...

Well said! As usual. Bravo!
And happy birthday!!

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,

I thought the same thing you did about Michael Chiarello's pasta dish and attitude. The whole time I was wondering why he didn't make a risotto or polenta? Maybe I'll write him a letter! Thanks for your blog.


At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - I was both excited and upset by the Top Chef Masters challenge. How cool that it was gluten-free food - and Vegan on top of that : ) But, the chef's reaction to it made me wonder - can you really be a Top Chef without being able to cook for a variety of people - including people with food intolerances and food preferences? And, it made me realize how much I dislike eating out in the real world all over again... At least my kitchen is safe, and nobody ever sighs about the meal being gluten-free! : )


At 8:40 AM, Blogger Ellemay said...

The boyfriend and I went to dinner at a friends house a week ago and we were served up roast chicken with gravy and quinoa. It was the first time bf had ever heard of or tasted quinoa and he loved it!

I also remember introducing the friend to it one day and he had the same reaction.

I haven't tried it in pasta form yet.

Happy Birthday! That cake looks amazing!

At 10:33 AM, Blogger TC said...

I am always looking for new interesting recipes for my gluten free diet. So glad that over the past 20 years the ability to make great tasting gluten free products is much easier every year. I even promote a gluten free lifestyle to those without Celiac or wheat & gluten intolerance as a means to lose weight and have had good success with many people. Thanks

At 10:34 AM, Blogger TC said...

You don't have to post this comment but I wanted you to know that I have your site linked on my blog as a featured site. Thought you would like to know. Keep up the great work.

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have cable so I have not been able to follow top Chef Masters. I would agree with one of the other posters that the chefs were probably groaning more about not being able to use eggs, dairy and meat than gluten. But I agree with you that they should have seen it as a challenge not a setback.

I had a friend visit me earlier this year that had a good list of restrictions including gluten, eggs, soy, corn, dairy, shellfish, this along with the fact that my husband doesn't eat red meat or pork, left me with a much smaller repertoire to pull from. I found that dinner was not that hard at all as I could still use chicken and fish, most veggies were ok, and then grains and legumes. What I found challenging were western style desserts. I could easily whip up an asian dessert that fit the bill but not having the experience baking with the different flours, subbing out the eggs and adjusting ingredients so they would rise correctly, I have to admit, I chickened out and went to Flying Apron and bought a cake for one of the nights she was here.

Sorry for the tangent, back to Chiarello's pasta, given the fact that he didn't have to make the pasta from scratch...I don't see why he was put off.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I felt the exact same way when I was Top Chef Masters. Aren't these people supposed to be masters of their craft and a few lousy restrictions for one meal upset them? We live with this every day and understand food can be made no matter what you are allergic too! Rick Bayless, bless his heart, was great. He understood because of his daughter, and I feel more chefs should be like that. People like us are everywhere and we deserve good food without any grumbling!

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Dallas Designing-Diva said...

OMG, this looks absolutely divine. Yummy!I've only attempted one GF cake so far and it fell! ;-( We ate it with fruit...ended up more like a sponge cake. Now, I'm ready to try again!

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous samcarter said...

Seriously. People get so whiny when they find out they can't feed me wheat or bananas, or apples or green beans (Yep, i have weird allergies).

When my neighbor found out I had celiac, and I explained to her carefully what it meant, she practically wailed, "Oh, that means I can't give you anything to eat when you come over!" As if i only visited her to get a snack or something. I told her, over and over, that I didn't visit her to get fed, I visited her to VISIT, to enjoy her and her husband's company....but all she focused on, for a long time, every time i visited, was, "Can you eat this bread mix? Read this and see if you can eat it."

For crying out loud people, I am MORE than my food allergies. More than the food I put down my gullet.

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Kelley said...

My sentiments, exactly, regarding that episode of Top Chef masters. Chiarello's remarks only showed his ignorance and how fortunate he apparently is to be able to eat anything that thrives and not react to it. I have long hoped that someone would host a food show based on various food sensitivities, teaching how to substitute, what works and what doesn't. The emphasis in food entertainment has gone from education on technique and cultures of food to either siupersimplefast preserved ingredients or extremely lavish ingredients. There is little attention brought to *real* health, technique, alternatives, nutrition... It's a shame that western culture is so hung up on thinking things have to be heavily preserved or the way they've always eaten them in order to taste good. That attitude leaves no room for appreciation for how far we've come in creating a wide range of good customized eats.

Hope you are well!

At 1:11 PM, Blogger steph said...

As a vegetarian who tries not to eat much soy and had a GF son, I would WELCOME the challenge to make that meal. What FUN!!! I couldn't cut it as a chef, but I would welcome the challenge of this meal.

I don't have to eat GF, but my son does, and I have to make sure that what he gets is GF. It's a real pain that we DON'T realize how much wheat we get in every. single. meal. (wheat in soy sauce? really? WHY?) It's a pain that almost every kids meal at sit-down restaurants is served breaded or with a bun.

But we're happy around here, because two major pizza chains and a pasta chain have GF stuff. YAY for them. And one of them did it because his son is autistic, just like ours. So we try to support their business when we can. :) Celebrate the small things!

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm vegan. One of my housemates has celiac disease, can't tolerate much soy, and is also allergic to bananas and avocados. The other housemate is allergic to all tree nuts.

Needless to say, as a general rule we each cook for ourselves and are careful about what we bring into the house and how we clean up after it.

But when we find something we can all eat and we all enjoy, it's a damn near party around here. We took turns making different kinds of cold bean salad for the two weeks of a horrible heat wave. I made tzimmes last winter, which we all ate by itself, or on soy or cow yogurt, or in oatmeal. Coconut Bliss frozen dessert is very popular around here.

I have a friend who is trained as a chef, and she LOVES trying to figure out how to make good food around other people's restrictions. I've known that some cooks (including my non-vegan friends) find it a fun challenge!

Food should be delicious and fun.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Oh, Shauna! Happy belated Birthday!

And I do want to slap people upside the head when they make such a fuss over what they can't have with me around. Sheesh. Grow up, is what I want to say!

And the cake was wonderful--I was so touched by Lorna's love for you guys as embodied by that cake and her desire to learn more about good gluten free food. Such a lovely gift, on so many levels!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Whenever we travel, eating out is a huge challenge for celiac hubby. We make do--Thai restaurants seem to be OK. But we were thrilled to find, in Sequim, WA (should you hop over from your island), Alder Wood Bistro. It bent over backwards to feed him a perfect gluten-free gourmet pizza. It's a great restaurant anyway, offering almost entirely organic, locally produced foods. You must try it.

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Michele Estes said...

Oh, yes, yes! I completely get this post; THANK YOU Shauna! I am gluten free & sadly becomming more and more casein free. I Just wrote about a frustrating experience on my latest post; no worries, no one was hurt, just me!

Glad you are here!

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Pétra said...

First of all I am making that cake tomorrow for my sis's birthday, she's not gluten-free but knows how good gluten-free can be, I can't wait to try it!

I watch Top Chef and also was excited about that challenge. I was groaning when Michael Chiarello picked that pasta but also when the wonderful Art Smith picked the Rice Dream to use for his dessert. My daughter can't have dairy or gluten so we have run the gamete on dairy free ice cream and it's hard to find a good one especially if you are going to modify it.

During the meal I actually felt bad for Zooey Deschanel when she was saying she hadn't had pasta in so long. There are so many options for her and she is either new to the g-f world or is eating out of craft services so much that she hasn't explored a good gluten-free section at the grocery store. In the end it was wonderful to see someone enjoying their food so much and despite the Chefs grumblings they really did their best and gave her an amazing meal I only wish I could try.

I hope Top Chef does another challenge like this some day but they should have YOU on as the Guest Judge!

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Nurit said...

I've been thinking about this post for a long time now. There's so much I want to say but it'll be longer than *your* post, so I’ll keep it short.
I think people who don't understand the health issues involved might be confusing them with picky or finicky eating. I'm a mom with 2 healthy kids whom I deeply love and love to feed and make them happy “in the belly” and heart, but they can sure take the joy out of cooking every now and then with the way they relate to food. As much as I love to cook, to feed, to nurture them and others, it can be so frustrating at times. So, I can see how someone like Michael Ch who seems a charming person and a fantastic chef might complain when not being able to give people joy with his food the way he is used to. And of course, I see your point too.
Anyway, I am writing a post about it, so I thought it’s time to come back here and write my comment.

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

I recently encountered something similar to this. A few months ago, I found out that I need to eat dairy, egg, and soy free (in addition to the gluten, which I already knew). I was looking for recipes for vegan flan (because I am nothing if not ambitious/crazy) and I came across a forum in which a caterer was discussing a challenging client who wanted vegan cupcakes at her wedding. One of the responses suggested that the caterer make a small batch of the vegan cupcakes for the bride and use her usual recipe for the rest of the guests "because I'm sure they'd appreciate having butter in their cupcakes." Everyone agreed, with grumbles of "self-centered brides.."

I was so frustrated. Suppose a bride, on her wedding day, doesn't want to be handed her own personal plate of "special allergen-free food," singled out, made to feel different and difficult. Suppose she would like to wander the room, knowing every bite was safe for her.

Sigh. And vegan cupcakes are so easy, too! I find that people get so used to thinking "I need flour/milk/eggs/cheese/whatever to make this" that they neglect the vast range of possible ingredients, the multiple ways to make food work, whether faithful to the original or something else entirely. My allergies have made me so much more creative in the kitchen. I can't imagine going back to using all purpose flour in everything!


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