Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas dinner at The Hutton Hotel

This year we gave ourselves a present: Christmas day on our own with no dishes, kids or family. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE our family. But things have been so busy and stressful these days that we decided to spend Christmas on our own this year.
I made a reservation on Opentable.com (if you've never done this you're missing out) & made sure to comment that our reservation included a diner with gluten intolerance. They called the day before to confirm and of course I asked if they had gotten my remarks about my dietary needs. The hostess gracious looked in the system and said "yes Mrs. Maglothin, I see the chef has received your information and we'll be ready to take care of your needs without a problem." I love it. I love it love it love

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Matter of Taste takeout - a new gf Nashville staple!

So I was complaining on Facebook the other day about how hard it is to grab a quick dinner when you cant eat gluten, dairy, soy & refined sugar. I love it when a friend can call my bluff and let me know about a new option. She suggested A Matter Of Taste which is a brand new gluten free restaurant on Franklin Rd around the Oak Hill area. Of course I didn't waste any time trying it out. It had been a busy week and my husband was sweet enough to take me to lunch there this past Friday.
It's location was interesting, it's sandwiched between a liquor store and the colonial baking company but once you walk in those doors it's an adorable, funky little store with tons of charm. The owner was at the counter and was so sweet and helpful. Everything they serve is as local and farm raised as possible. She even gets her pasta made fresh locally out of chickpea! It's mainly takeout but they do have three small tables to sit for a spell. My only complaint is that they're only open from 11-4, which makes it a lunch only spot.
They have specials as well as a great full menu of salads, sandwiches, soups and sides. The bread they bake there is all gluten free. They do have non-gf options for sandwiches but that bread is brought in to lessen any

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How blogging has changed my quality of life

I don't get to blog often but I always want to... why? I think it's about empowerment & enjoying a community of people I would never have communicated with otherwise.
When I was told I had an ovarian cyst and possibly endometriosis I was really sad. I thought this was going to change everything about having kids and being able to stay off medication. I had been through two other unrelated surgeries by the age of 26. After those procedures I told myself I'd do anything to not go through it again. But then a year later, the pain in my left side started. We monitored the cyst, hoping it would diminish on it's own. It only got bigger. When it started to really affect daily life, I gave in... we scheduled a surgery date.
After the procedure my doctor came out & talked to my husband. She asked him if he was ready to have kids anytime soon. I would have paid to see his face. We had only been married for 4 months. She mentioned

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vegan Pesto

A friend sent me this recipe for Vegan Pesto that tastes amazing! The basil in my garden is dying with the cold weather setting in and I wanted to harvest what I could & put it to good use. There is no dairy in this recipe and of course it's gluten free. Everyone who's tasted it has raved about how they don't even notice the lack of the usual Parmesan cheese!

Vegan Pesto:

1 large bunch of fresh basil, tough stems removed,
1/2 cup cashews
3 garlic heads
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch salt

I whipped this up and then put it in ice cube trays to freeze:
I cover it with Press N Seal paper and it's been great. The cube portions are perfect for a single serving when cooking something like salmon or keep the meal vegan & eat it with spaghetti squash.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A late night Favorite Friday!

Whew! Life really can get so busy that you just forget to do some of the things you love.... it's sad really but I guess if we didn't get busy sometimes we wouldn't appreciate relaxation would we?
I realized tonight that I hadn't done a Favorite Friday in several weeks. It took me two seconds to decide what today's item was... spaghetti squash!!!

I don't know what rock I've lived under for almost 30 years but I had NEVER EVER had a spaghetti squash! How is this possible?
As I transition into a diet that loosely follows the SCD diet (Specific Carb Diet),  I've yet again been on the search for healthy alternatives to my favorite foods. When I read at an awesome blog (scdrecipe.com) that spaghetti squash tasted kinda like pasta and not much like squash I was intrigued.
I was instantly on the search for this elusive item I had never heard about. Surely it wasnt just at the grocery store and I've passed it a hundred times? Sure enough... I called Publix and they had one! The produce girl on the phone could tell how strangely excited I was and offered to save the last one for me behind the counter.
The husband and I cooked it up Wednesday night and it was delicious! I wouldnt say it doesnt have a squash taste but it definitely is amazing. Who knew there was a squash that when cooked, would turn all stringy like pasta and taste so great!

Here's how we cooked it:
1) Heat the oven to 375
2) Cut the squash in half with a sharp knife. They're pretty tough so put some muscle into it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Favorite Friday: Honeyville Almond flour

As I began to introduce more almond flour to my diet rather than rice flour, I realized almond flour was pretty expensive at the grocery store. I immediately went online to find the best price I could without sacrificing quality. I decided to give Honeyville a shot and wasn't disappointed! It was $29.99 for a 5 lb bag and the shipping is a flat $5 rate. Everything I've baked with it has been great and no - this isn't an ad and I don't get money from any of my favorite friday posts. I just really want to share some of the great things I've found.
Have a great weekend everybody!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Favorite Friday: daiya dairy free, soy free, vegan cheese

Daiya has made it so much easier to be dairy/soy/gluten free and still enjoy things like homemade pizza and omelets! I'm excited to make it my favorite friday and hopefully spread the word to some of you who've been looking for a cheese replacement that actually melts and

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meal plan for the week of June 5-11

This week's meal plan centers on the plethora of cucumbers growing in the garden. There is also plenty of corn as well! You'll find a few repeats if you downloaded last week's plan because we our schedules were pretty busy and we didn't always get to cook.
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and spent time with the people they love. We're so lucky to have the freedoms we do and may we always remember the ones who make it possible!
Click here for a Meal Plan for the week of June 5-11

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One of my favorite breakfasts: Baked Tomato and Eggs!

I'm so excited for my tomatoes to start getting ripe in the garden! I have so many green tomatoes right now... we're going to be overloaded soon!
Until that happens though, I have to keep getting my tomatoes elsewhere. I bought some organic tomatoes from a local farmer for the purpose of making my favorite tomato & egg bake this weekend. It's really simple but does take some time to do it right so save it for a weekend!

All you need is:
(for one serving)
1 large tomato
1 egg
1.5 T olive or grapeseed oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat to 400 degrees

2. Start by removing the core of the tomato.

3. Sprinkle it with salt & turn it upside down to drain for about 10-15 minutes. This helps level out the moisture because once you start baking, it intensifies. If you didnt drain them first, it would become incredibly soupy!

4. Bake the empty tomatoes for 10 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh or dried oregano. (we use fresh oregano from our garden)

The Melting Pot has a new Gluten Free menu!

This is great! The Melting Pot has a new GF menu and it isn't just lettuce :-) They are stocking Redbridge beer for their cheese fondue and can replace their thickening agents with cornstarch upon request. This is all thanks to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America®'s Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program™

Larabars at Costco!

Costco hasn't been as much of an asset to us since changing my diet but I was so pleasantly surprised to find out last weekend that our store in Cool Springs was carrying Larabars! You can get a box of 18 for $14.99! You get an assortment of Peanut Butter Cookie, Apple Pie & Cherry Pie.

Printable Coupons for Muir Glen, Cascadian Farms

Thanks to Faithful Provisions for this link! Click here to get up to $40 savings from Eat Better America. Coupons include Muir Glen organics, Cascadian Farms, Larabars, Greenworks cleaning supplies & Huggies Pure & Natural!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nashville Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Boscos

It's been a while since this dining experience but it left me feeling so negatively about a place I previously loved for 10 years that I had to write about it.
My experience at Bosco's is not the worst or most uncaring service I've ever had but it was surprising. I've been going here for over a decade, ever since I moved to Nashville 11 years ago. It's one of my favorites and I've always loved their food and bar.
This was the first time I had been there since realizing I was gluten intolerant. It was a group work function for a dual baby shower of two coworkers. I thought surely, they would be a good choice and would be able to handle my dietary need. In an effort to not be the difficult one in a large group of people, I walked to the hostess stand after everyone was seated, and asked if they, by chance, had a menu marked with gluten free items. The hostess gave me a blank stare (which I am now used to, and many of you can sympathize with). From her stare I assumed she had no idea what I was talking about so I let her know what ingredients I needed to stay away from. What she said next really made me laugh. She shrugged her shoulders and said "Well... there's always lettuce. We've got lettuce so you can definitely have that!" She was really proud of herself....
I quickly gathered that she was the wrong one to talk to and ended up letting my server know of my intolerance. He had no idea what gluten was either BUT I was perfectly content when he gave me the professional answer that "I'm not extremely familiar with this but I will be sure that the kitchen is aware and I can confirm your selections with them." That's all I needed to hear. Managers need to take note: don't just train your servers on allergies... Include your hostesses. They are the first impression of your restaurant and if they get a question they can't handle about an allergy it doesn't make people feel awesome to hear "There's always lettuce". It's actually a joke now among my friends and family.
In all, the kitchen redeemed the experience even though there was virtually nothing on the menu and I did get sick later that afternoon from the salad I ate (Gorgonzola pear salad). I don't honestly expect all restaurants to be perfectly safe and completely accomodating, but I do feel that they should treat people with allergies with an awareness and respect. I wont be going back to Bosco's anytime soon and that truly makes me sad.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Meal Plan for the week of 6/28 - 7/4

This week I'm concentrating on making most baked items with almond flour. I'm still doing a lot of experimenting with what my body needs from me right now. I've been getting really good at eating gluten free but I feel like there's something I'm substituting that's actually hurting me rather than helping me. To experiment, I'm going to mix in a few things from the Selective Carb diet (SCD) and try to monitor my sugar intake... not just with sugar itself but the carbs that turn to sugar and are higher on the Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load list. There's a lot more to be done before I think I'll reach my ideal diet to feel great! I'll let you know how this goes and please leave me any tips you have.
You can download our meal plan for the week here: http://snipurl.com/yd89s

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Garden Update 6/27 - Cucumbers a plenty! Crazy tomatoes!

I've pulled the first three cucumbers off the vine!

Now, here's where I still need advice from you pros... how big should they be when they are harvested? And when it starts to change color - is it good or bad? Any advice would be great!
Also, we had a big storm and it's really messed up the cucumber trellis and the tomato cages. I knew the wire cages wouldn't last forever but hopefully I can figure out a good supplemental bamboo situation so that they can keep on growing. I'll get that done tomorrow as well as some pruning. One thing I have had a lot of advice on is that pruning the crazy branches will keep the plant producing more!
I hope everyone's had a great weekend. And just remember, it's almost the 4th of July holiday weekend. That should help you get through this week a little better :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Garden update: 6/20

I'm learning lots of fun lessons about gardening lately! The most important thing I've learned is that I didnt have a great space plan in place. I planted things like zuchinni/squash/cucumbers/watermelon too close together! Dont get me wrong, I'm glad everything has grown beyond my expectation but if I dont handle it the right way, a lot of my planting will have been in vain.
I started this weekend by cutting out a zuchinni plant entirely. There were three plants too close together and it was causing moisture problems for all of them. There was really disgusting looking mildew killing everything and it had to go before it ruined all three plants. I hope this gave the other two enough room to breath and continue producing. We've gotten four great zuchinnis so far and they've tasted great!!
Also, I'm going to experiment with putting my cucumber plant on a trellis after it's already grown a lot. I made the mistake of going on a vacation ;-) and not securing the cucumbers to anything before I left. It feel like they grew a mile while I was gone and they desperately need to be climbing something tall to get them off the ground. I'll let you know how that goes. If you have any budget friendly suggestions please let me know!
The corn looks almost ready to harvest - maybe another week? And the tomatoes are growing awesome green tomatoes right now.
The peas have perished and have been removed. I'm going to rework the soil and plant something else there. Weather above 90 degrees has just been too much for them and they didn't make it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favorite Friday: Burger Up!

Today's Favorite Friday post is about a new Nashville restaurant: Burger Up. Started by Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, who also owns the Frothy Monkey coffeehouse down the street, it has a great vibe with a casual, hip atmosphere. The best part is... they now have a gluten free bun & gluten free beer! 
My husband and I were able to go out on a date this week and the waitress didn't look at me like I had three heads when I said the words "gluten free bun & beer"!!! Yay! Having come home from West Palm beach with some restaurants that were beyond horrible to me, it was a great feeling.
I got the Woodstock which had some really amazing bacon. Added sweet potato fries and a Bard's beer. When I got my beer, I was surprised that it was a Green's Dunnel Dark beer. They had run out of the Bard's and substituted for the same price. Now, I love Bard's but I also really love Green's. This was exciting!
The flax/quinoa bun was amazing! It was the first time I've been able to eat a burger and have it feel authentic. Bravo to you bun master - whoever you are! I need to meet you and get some tips on how you bake. 

My only complaint is the noise level, which I hear they are working on. And of course there's the price. $15 for a burger and fries isn't awesome but it also isn't bad at all when you consider it's from a local ranch (Triple L Ranch) in Franklin. I'm always willing to support local, natural food!
Overall, I cant tell you how great it felt to have a nice meal out with my husband without having to ask for a gluten free menu or get told "there's always lettuce to eat" by hostesses. Thank you everyone at Burger Up for knowing those of us with allergies want to eat out too! We appreciate it more than you know! Check out the menu at www.burger-up.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Meal plan for the week of June 7-11

Here's my meal plan for the week! http://snipurl.com/x69p9
I'm out of town part of the weekend so the husband is on his own for that part but otherwise we're stocked with fresh food and recipes ready in the binder. A reminder: I only specify breakfast and lunch. We choose from the list for our dinners, that way it's more flexible and we can find something we're in the mood for that night.
I hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Favorite Fridays: Purely Clear natural face moisturizer

* sorry for the late post. I know it doesn't make sense to have a Favorite Friday post on Saturday but it's due to a technical glitch. Enjoy and hopefully it'll be fixed before next time!

I have so many favorite things these days and most of them I've found from people I love sharing them with me. So I want to start "Favorite Fridays"! I might be something gluten free, a favorite organic product or anything I've stumbled upon that you might love too! It's not for money or advertisement, just something fun that's worth recommending.
My first Favorite Friday is going to be about Purely Clear,  a new facial moisturizer I've found that's  most organic and completely natural.

Here's the list of ingredients:
Organic sweet almond oil, organic aloe juice, organic coconut oil, organic rooibos tea, emulsifying wax, kosher vegetable glycerin, squalene, organic olive oil, palm stearic acid, organic jojoba oil, avocado oil, sodium PCA, witch hazel, vitamin E, xantham gum, lecithin, ionic silver, black willowbark extract, rosemary, neem

I bought it a few weeks ago from a local store I love, The Green Wagon in East Nashville. For years I have been using a great Neutrogena oil free facial moisturizer with SPF 15 in it. As far as complexion goes, it's never done me wrong. But lately I got to thinking about the synthetic chemicals & how SPF is probably unnecessary given that I'm in an office all day five days a week. I'd rather put SPF on when I know I'm going to be outside and need it. I surely don't need extra chemicals being rubbed into my head for no reason. So I started on the hunt for a natural face lotion. My skin is pretty sensitive and I get zits easy so I was anxious about trying something new. When I found Purely Clear at the store, I noticed it has a 100% money back guarantee. I like that. It

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The first peas are in! Some garden photos...

Not much to say, I just want to share some photos from my garden! I had a few photos left on a roll of film leftover from the weekend so I made a trek to the garden to photograph what's growing so far. Here's the first of the peas - they're the first vegetables I've ever grown!!!

The Zuchinni is taking over!!:
and one of some hay just for fun!

Growing like crazy! The organic garden is getting awesome.

Tonight consisted of several hours working in the garden! I had to do three things: weed, replant my pepper plants because the cutworms had gotten to them, and lay down some more landscape fabric because the darn bermuda grass has taken over again!
I had four bell pepper plants that I started from seeds. Only one is currently surviving. The other three were pinched off by cutworms. It was a rookie mistake. Usually I know better... the same thing happened to my tomatoes and I finally got it to stop by placing empty toilet paper/paper towel rolls. For some reason I didn't think about it with the peppers but it's ok -  I just had to go buy a few more. It also gave me to opportunity to change it up a bit and I bought one Anaheim pepper and then two new bell peppers. I wanted the Anaheim because they're good for dished like Chile Relleno... yum! They look like this:
After I planted the new peppers I got to work on weeding and laying down some new landscape fabric. The bermuda grass in my garden has gotten out of control. I had been able to control it for a few weeks by mulching with grass clippings. Lately it hasnt been working. I've had to dig and remulch three times now because it's so hard to control. We've also had some crazy rain lately and it keeps me from being able to weed. Luckily I found some all natural weed barrier fabric that's made out of corn! It's called Easy Gardener Natural Weedblock. No chemicals, all natural materials:
You can read more about it here: http://snipurl.com/wzu8n

Tomorrow I'll take a picture of the garden as a whole! However, yesterday I took a bunch of pictures for fun with my old film camera. I'll post those separately since there's several and they're more for fun!
I hope everyone had a great day and enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend!

Trader Joe's saves my budget, Whole Foods saves my life

I can't tell you how much I appreciate the existence of Trader Joe's. It allows me to get fresh, organic items cheaper than Whole Foods. It's my budget conscious utility store. My favorite items there include honey plantain chips, gf toaster waffles, organic onions, apples & potatoes. They make being gluten free so easy! There is a small "g" shaped symbol they print on their gf items and put on their shelves where the item is sold. They're easy to look for and if you are looking for something specific, just ask the customer service person for a gluten free list. They will give you a printout of all the gf items in the store!
My only complaint is their ability to let the shelves get bare. There have been a lot of times that they will be out of something I need for several days.
Whole Foods on the other hand, is a store that has saved my life. When I started removing gluten from my diet, it was difficult. Difficult but worth it. When I started cutting out dairy, it got a lot harder & a lot more emotional. When I also figured out I had to avoid soy... I really started to panic. What in the world will I eat? Whole Foods gave me a place to stand in the dairy aisle and stare. I stared at all of the options and my anxiety slowly eased. Finding coconut milk Kefir has fulfilled my love of yogurt. Finding coconut milk ice cream has made me feel like a girl again, a real girl who wants some ice cream when I read a magazine. It's amazing all of the little things you do with food that make you feel happy. When I cut all of these foods out, I knew it meant a lifestyle change. I'm excited about that! My body was telling me something and I know now to listen to it. But I also wanted to feel like I had the ability to treat myself on occasion. Whole Foods has given me that freedom. So Trader Joes, thank you for having easy, quality items at a great price. Whole Foods, thank you for the fresh and diverse foods along with a side of sanity. You've saved my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Our first anniversary trip - orange beach alabama and cobalt restaurant

The husband and I are on our first Anniversary :-) trip and we're in Orange Beach Alabama. Now... don't get too judgmental on us. We're both Alabamians and if you haven't experienced the Gulf Shores/Orange beach/Pensacola coast then you can't judge. It's sugar white beaches and water that (today at least) had no jellyfish, seaweed... or oil. We've done the trip on a budget but decided to splurge on one night out at a restaurant. We chose Cobalt, in the Caribe resort area.

It was great! We sat outside on the water next to the bay and overlooked the ocean on the other side. I gave the waiter the info about my allergies and while he honestly stated it would be best to talk to the chef, I appreciated that wholeheartedly. He promptly came back with a cheat sheet of what side dishes I could and couldn't have with my entree of filet steak and I chose the risotto because the potatoes had gluten.
My whole meal was great and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. If you ever find yourself on the gulf coast near pensacola or orange beach - check it out! I recommend it as one of the very few places that will accommodate you here! It felt like a special night out without the harassing reminder of my many allergies!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

gf Blueberry Polenta pancakes!

This morning was awesome! My husband and I woke up really late and got inspired to make some pancakes. So I went to glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com and found an awesome recipe for these blueberry polenta pancakes!

Unfortunately I didnt have any eggs so to save a trip to the store I used the Ener-G egg replacer instead and it worked just great!

From Glutenfreeda and Gluten Free girl:

1/2 cup of GF flour
1/2 cup of GF cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar (I use superfine baker's sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (I think I'm going to try baking powder next time)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup of blueberries
--mix together all dry ingredients (hint: I used to never do this, thinking, "Oh, why is that important?" But this year, I learned to follow the rules, and it does make a difference. Trust me.)
--Beat the eggs (I recommend you buy a Kitchen Aid, for all reasons.), then add in the melted butter and buttemilk.
--Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just blended. Fold in the blueberries.
--Melt some butter in a skillet on medium high. Dollop in about 1/2 cup of batter. Wait for the bubbles to appear and begin popping, then flip over the pancake. (Don't worry if it's a mess--life's imperfect.) Cook until browned.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is the first time I've hated birds

I normally love birds. Even when they're annoying and loud, I don't fault them. That was until I started a garden for the first time. Those little things keep eating my tiny tomato plants and now they've taken my squash and zucchini seedlings too.
I'm totally open to suggestions from you pros out there. Right now I think my best bet is to cover the rows of squash/zucchini with a netting. I also found a great suggestion online about using empty toilet paper rolls around the tomato plants until they get bigger. That will keep those buggers from snapping off the stems at the base.
I'll let you know how it's going but feel free to let me know if you have ideas! It's been a ton of work to get this garden going and I'm too excited about it to lose it to the birds :-)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My crazy meal plan and grocery shopping process

My friends and family think I'm crazy but I always end up going to 4 different grocery stores when I do our main shopping trip for the month. Splitting up items between Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Publix & Kroger make it more affordable to eat organic and be selective about our meat choices. I used to have a coupon system but since I've made the switch to buying mainly unprocessed or organic foods, there isn't much to use with coupons. Now I mainly clip them for staples like olive oil, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.

My husband is in school getting his undergrad business degree after a few years of playing music on the road. We made the decision for him to go to school and only work part-time, so our budgets are tight yet we still have to stick to organic, fresh food because of my gluten/dairy limitations. Here's how we stick to our budget:

1) When I'm ready to make our meal plan, I start by taking an inventory of what I have left in the pantry. 

2) Next, I go to Faithfulprovisions.com and look at the deals for the week in Nashville. I concentrate on Publix buy1get1free deals and Kroger's sales. Be careful not to buy things you wouldn't ordinarily need anyway. A sale's not a sale if you weren't ever going to

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contemplating the move to Casein Free

I really need some honest feedback from the Casein Free community(is it cassein or casein?)! When I was first researching this switch to being gluten free I knew cutting out dairy (casein) would probably be next. In cutting out gluten, I felt better and reacted so badly when I ate something I shouldn't have. I thought it would be enough but lately I've been having some lingering small problems with sinuses, asthma and general body aches. My immune system is still not up to snuff even though the gf diet has helped tremendously.
My acupuncturist suggested trying to cut out dairy. As many of you know, it was another overwhelmed moment. I feel like I've just started getting the hang of things with my gf diet, and I really am having a hard time getting motivated to cut out dairy. I'm already lactose free but I love a big glass of organic milk. I have been reading that people who can't digest lactose have a much higher probability to be allergic to casein as well. I know it will be worth it... the little lingering health problems and "foggy brain" I get after I drink milk are worth getting rid of, I'm just a little overwhelmed.
What is everyone's experience with this? Have you also gone dairy free? If you have any good resources for me to check out please pass them along!

Under the orange umbrella with a strawberry limeade

It's been too long since I blogged! I was talking to a fellow blogger friend (and real friend :-) about that this afternoon. I love it so much but there are many times you just can't get to it!
Nevertheless, I've been outside enjoying the weather a lot lately and it's been fantastic! So today I decided I wanted to be outside and I wanted to blog... so I'm blogging from outside!! I'm sitting under my brand new orange umbrella from Old Time Pottery (that I got for $35) with a strawberry limeade and enjoying the mild temperatures:

A few updates on the garden:
The seedlings are on their way to being real plants:
 and I have a plan for everything that's going to be planted:

If you can't read my geeky chart above (hey, I'm a graphic designer), I'm planting Sweetie tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, peppers, corn, peas, carrots, onions, squash, zuchinni & watermelon.
Yes, that's a lot! Especially for a first-timer but I'm guessing the plants aren't all going to live and I'm going to learn a lot of lessons about gardening so I figured I should start out with a bang and see what will grow. I'm fully aware I may lose several plants throughout the process but I'm excited to try!
A big thank you to my friend Matt who runs a community farm on his property and taught me a lot about what to put where and the different intervals to plant. I hadn't even thought about not planting everything at first, you want to plant things like carrots, corn and onions a little at a time so they aren't all ready at once. The other plants regenerate and grow continuously so you don't have to worry about those.
I also fenced it in with T posts and garden fencing. It was a little expensive, but again, I'm learning the first garden definitely costs a bit. However, I'm hoping that I'm laying the groundwork for using it for several years. I'll update it with a good photo this weekend. There are a few other things to get done first. I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful day in Nashvegas! If you're not in Nashville, take a moment to appreciate whatever it is that's around you. And if you're gardening this spring let us know what you're growing!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My first GF Easter meal

My husband and I have a tradition of making an Easter Ham with our friends. This year was even better because we had an extra guest... their brand new baby boy! He obviously didn't get to try the ham but he did get to hang out with us all day on the patio.
This year we had to do things a little different. We made it a lunch because my husband has to work on Sunday. Oh and then there's the fact that I'm gluten free now :-) so the meal needed a few alterations. We had our traditional "funky ham", sweet potato casserole & Alex's asparagus (regular & white). It was a great meal! Here are

The Cinnamon Roll Of Your Dreams

Cinnamon rolls are one of the things I miss the most since I've been gluten free. My friend Jasika sent me a link to these cinnamon rolls on iamglutenfree.blogspot.com and they are AMAZING :-) There are step by step instructions and photos here: http://snipurl.com/v8pn4
We made them last night and wrapped them up to bake in the morning. They were so good my husband claims they're better than a regular gluten-filled cinnamon roll!
Make sure to pay attention to the notes. They really do

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lessons in tilling and marital bliss... an organic garden in progress!

Well... tilling doesn't always cause marital bliss but for my husband and I, it was a really fun joint project that made for an awesome day! He's been working or in class every night this week so we were really excited he had Saturday off. So how do we spend it? Not sitting around eating bon bons and watching movies but creating a garden in the backyard. And I didn't even have to bribe him! We had a lot of fun and learned a lot as well.
The first thing we did was go to Home Depot and get a tiller. After reading online and talking to people, we thought we needed a rear tine tiller... until we saw it. The rear tine is much bigger and was never going to fit into the small hatchback we have. We went with a mid tine tiller (Farmer Matt, you were right :-). It cost $39.00 for four hours which was perfect. It was definitely worth the cost for what it saved in sweat.
I'll tell you a little about what we learned using a tiller for the first time. My husband tilled the most for the first 30-45 minutes. After a few initial tries we figured out the wheel on the front definitely needed to be pulled up and out of operation. Also, the lever on the back was a good thing. It kept us from running away with it like a cartoon character. If you push down on the handles and let the lever drag in the dirt it's much more manageable! Here's my cheesy info graphic:

That's really it! It's much easier than I thought it would be and honestly kinda fun. You're sure to be sore the next day but it's worth it.
Then it was compost time! We called The Compost Farm in Brentwood & they helped us figure out how much we needed. Their compost is organic and they also sell soil & mulch. You can find out more about them here: http://snipurl.com/v4yql. For our job we needed 10 bags and they were $7 each. It was pretty expensive but since this was our first time creating the beds, we went with it.
Here's us spreading out the compost:
Our lab, Bama, thought it was the greatest thing that mom & dad were outside with her all day!
I've read that you don't want to till too much or you'll destroy the composition of the soil, so once we spread the compost we went back over the beds once or twice and we were done!
Now I'm waiting for my seedlings to get bigger and I'll transplant. Later this week I'll talk about what I'm planting and how the seedlings got started.
If anyone has advice or expertise to share please leave some comments! I'm really, really excited about my first garden and any input would help!
Goodnight everyone!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's "Me" night!

As we speak I'm sitting on the couch in PJs drinking a great Pinot and eating a snack of organic pear and manchego cheese:
It sounds snooty - I know... but trust me, it's delicious! I didn't come up with the combo on my own, it's from a great local restaurant named Margot where everything is local and mostly organic. The chef is amazing and has never disappointed with the menu. The husband and I went for brunch one day and this was an appetizer but it also had prosciutto, I just don't have any tonight.
After a couple of bad days this week, it's gotten much better and it helps when you make the conscious decision to not let things get the best of you. Everyone these days is dealing with something and if we all sat around upset about it we'd be a sad community. This week was about feeling and dealing but not wallowing.
I hope some of you get to have a "me" night soon! I'm off to watch mindless TV and read my new Real Simple & Food & Wine magazines.
Look for some posts about progress in the garden tomorrow. I'm hoping it'll be a great weekend to get things done!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Affordable Gluten Free flours!

Well... God always has a way of putting little surprises in front of me to remind me of the small things to be happy about. After a bad day, I was so excited when I got home to find my shipment of GF flour had arrived! Yay!

I've been on the search for affordable GF flours around Nashville and I've had a hard time finding them. It seems like every recipe I'm excited about uses some random flour I can't buy at the store. I finally stumbled upon Barry Farms on the internet. It's not fancy, definitely a mom and pop operation but if you read the "about us" they like it that way! They're in Ohio but you can purchase items on Amazon or straight from their website. There are a lot more options on their site so I suggest ordering straight from there. Best of all - they're affordable! You unfortunately have to pay shipping (mine was $15.00) but until I can find these items in Nashville it'll work.

These are the flours I ordered:
Garbanzo Fava- 1lb
Sweet White Sorghum- 2lb
Tapioca  - 1lb
Sweet White rice- 1lb
Potato- 2lb
Brown Rice- 2lb
Garbanzo Bean- 2 lb
Amaranth- 2lb
The total was $33.47 + $15 for shipping

They also have items like GF waffle and pancake mix, french bread mix, cake mixes: golden pound, lemon, yellow and rich chocolate. They also have muffin, pie crust & biscuit mix. There's a lot more but you'll have to check out their whole selection at this link: http://snipurl.com/v0wr9

Kinda out of whack today

Well, it's beautiful outside and I'd rather be gardening right now but I can't. For several reasons. Here they are in my best whiny voice....

1 - I have a lot of work (fulltime, real job work) to do.
2 - I have a sinus infection.
3 - I need to clean the house but I can't because I have a sinus infection and that wouldn't help :-(
4 - I'm really really tired
5 - I'm whiny today and not proactive like I should be
6 - I wish I was still in San Francisco/Napa

Today's been one of those days. One of those... I'm sick and should stay home because I'm sick but I can't because there's too much going on at work days. So because of my own self imposed negative energy, all kinds of stupid stuff has gone wrong throughout the day. My favorite was just a bit ago when I was heating up my dinner in the toaster oven at work and it caught on fire. My boss and I miraculously couldn't figure out where any of the fire extinguishers

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Black Bean & Quinoa burgers with Red Onion Basil Aioli: UPDATED

UPDATE: I tried this and it's worth making! It's affordable & delicious but take these notes into account:
1 - it was really really mushy. I don't think I strained them enough or they didn't chill in the refrigerator long enough. The leftover ones I had the next day were much better, so if nothing else, try to make them ahead of time so they can solidify more!
2 - I added some garlic - feel free to add more spices because I think it was a little bland.
I'm so excited! I'm about to try this recipe http://snipurl.com/uye9l for Black Bean & Quinoa burgers from thevoraciousvegan.com. I have a love/hate relationship with veggie burgers because of their texture. The worst one I've had was one of the most expensive at J.Alexander's. All rice and no substance! This version seems much better and I'll let you know how it goes.

From The Voracious Vegan.com:
Black Bean Burger
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed and roughly smashed
2/3 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chickpea flour (with additional 2Tbsp if needed)
1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, the soft kind marinated in oil
1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water, microwaved for 20 seconds
2 tsp liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all of the ingredients and form into 4 large patties
- Allow the patties to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then fry in a drizzle of olive oil until brown and crispy on both sides

Red Onion Basil Aoli
No specific recipe here, just mix a chopped red onion, a few diced garlic cloves and chopped fresh basil with lots of vegan mayo and there you go! Easy and delicious.

I also bought some gluten free hamburger buns from Whole Foods today to round out the meal so we'll see if they're worth the price. They were $6 for 6. Pretty lame but the only option right now so we'll see how good they are!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Photos from Napa & San Francisco!

I still haven't had the chance to put a good blog together about the trip but I did get some of my film developed. Yes, I said FILM :-) As is obvious by my iPhone photos of food throughout the blog, I don't have a good digital camera. So I pulled out the old film camera from photography class in college and tried to get reacquainted! I've really missed taking photos, it's been years since I've shot anything fun!
I'll post more about the amazing food we had later (afterall, that's what this blog is about & it was so easy to eat gluten free and organic in California!) but here are some of my favorite images from the trip. They're a little washed out because I'm still getting the hang of the old camera but I love them. I'm glad to have any images at all to remember our amazing trip, by even if it's not as convenient as digital. We saved for so long to make this trip happen and it was worth every bit of the sacrifice!

Driving from Napa to Calistoga

And then..
At Chateau Montelena in Calistoga

At Merryvale winery