Because of the upset in our flight plans, we didn’t get into Dublin until after 5pm on the 19th. My folks are early risers and so they eat dinner early but they had waited for us to arrive before going to eat. They had picked out an Italian restaurant called The Italian Corner with gluten free menu items that’s around the corner from Temple Bar and we called to make sure they had room for 6. They had our table ready within the 20 minutes I had told them it would take for us to be ready and over there.
The restaurant sits facing the river on Wellington Quay with a large glass window, perfect for people watching.
The menu includes a note that gluten free bread, pasta and pizza is available upon request. Since this was my first dining experience in Dublin, I told her “I’m Celiac” and asked a few questions about the food I was interested in ordering. The server was knowledgeable and I felt about as comfortable as possible having not seen the kitchen. The kitchen, by the way, was down the stairs from our table and I paid attention to the plates being brought up. Every meal looked like something I would want to try. The smells were enticing, to say the least.
Smoked Haddock pasta

I ordered a smoked haddock pasta with cream spinach and capers and what I suspect were a corn pasta. The texture was perfect and the sauce was amazing.
Our server was slow, and walked away a few times while my daughter was trying to order. I suspect that because of the small size of the restaurant and the full tables, that the noise simply drown her voice out, but it still was a bit of an inconvenience. For 6 people, the meal came to be about 130 Euros.

Our first meal in Dublin was a success. I had no ill reaction to the food and it was delicious.

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Remember the other day when I posted the email I got from Aer Lingus that my gluten free meals were taken care of both ways? I felt confident that I would have meals, so initially only packed snack bars (Chapul and Kind Bars) for the whole trip and nothing really substantial.
About a month ago we received notification from United (Aer Lingus’s US Domestic partner), that our flight time had changed and we now only had 1hr and 20 min to get from our domestic terminal to international at SFO. I called both United and Aer Lingus and was told that it should be plenty of time, but if we wanted to pay extra, we could get the earlier flight. Since it was their change, I didn’t feel we should pay more. Aer Lingus was sympathetic but unable to help. That’s more than could be said for the United rep. I checked around and found that, should our flight be on time, we should be able to make the gate in less than an hour if we walk fast. I prepped my family for a sprint once we got to San Francisco.
My whole family was ready to leave the house early and we were out the door well within our schedule. We arrived at the United ticket counter to check in where we used the self-check in. It took about 15 minutes with only about 5 people in front of us due to the slowness of people navigating the menus on the computer terminals. (This will illustrate a point later.) The attendants who were there were only helping people check their luggage. Our very bored attendant checked ours in and each of us had to show our passports to illustrate whose bag belonged to whom. While I was waiting for him to check the girls’ bags, I turned and noticed that our departure time had been bumped to about 30 minutes before our Aer Lingus flight out of San Francisco was supposed to leave. There was a long line at the terminals and so I told my husband I would talk to someone at the gate and we headed up there.
There was not a single United rep person at any gate in the terminal. I stepped into the United Club and asked the ladies about reps. They told me that ours would be there in 20 minutes or I could head back to the main counter.
I left my family and headed back to the main counter where I was directed to a special roped-off area and a manager was called. On his way to see me, he was approached by another woman who happened to also have her family scheduled to meet the Aer Lingus flight to Dublin in San Francisco. She was put in line behind me and we chatted a bit while we waited. A few minutes passed and the manager came by and told us that “They have already booked you on another flight on British Airways. Wait here and a person will get your tickets for you.” So we waited. A few minutes later, as my family headed back down the ramp to meet me (because we needed to all be present to get our new tickets AND have our luggage receipts to get our bags back) two attendants signed into the terminals in front of our line and we were each taken by one. My attendant, an older gentleman who didn’t speak much, seemed to have everything under control. He asked for our materials and we were set with our tickets in a matter of a few minutes. While he was working on ours, the other lady had an older woman taking care of her tickets. The woman argued that “We never change flights due to weather delays” and then walked away to verify with the manager that we were indeed all getting tickets on British Airways. My family was done and over at the baggage area HALF AN HOUR before the other lady and her family. After they finally made it to baggage claim, she told me the customer service was appalling. Honestly, if I had her experience, I would think so too. We waited over an hour for our bags to be pulled from down below, then debated going back to the long term parking to get the car. Our new flight on British Airways to London Heathrow wouldn’t leave for several hours and my husband hates airports. I opted to check and see if my friend Shelby was available to pick us up for a late lunch. She was and we headed to Thai Elephant for lunch. I had a mango salad with medium spicy that was to die for. It wasn’t heavy or overly sour or sweet. Just perfect. While at the restaurant I called British Airways and asked them if there was any chance I could get a specialty meal with such short notice. I figured it would be too late, so I wasn’t disappointed when they said it was. The customer service rep did suggest I ask once on the plane and see if they had anything. Just in case, we swung by Safeway and I picked up some salami and cheese and a pear for dinner on the plane.

Boarding the big jets always brings back memories of flying Quantas to Fiji. I’m always more comfortable on those planes than the little metal tubes where as many seats as possible have been sardine canned in. Being a big girl, I predicted that I would need a seatbelt extension so preemptively I asked for one as we got to our seats. Turns out I didn’t need it.

When the first round of drinks was brought, I asked our quite sassy male attendant about gluten free options. He reiterated that special orders for meals need to be made 24 to 48 hours in advance. I told him I was fine with what I brought but that customer service said it wouldn’t hurt to ask. He made a comment about giving me a “BEST PASSENGER” award and then told me he would see what they could do.
As the smell of prepped dinners began wafting through the cabin, another attendant came to talk to me. She verified “Are you Ceoliac?” and for the rest of the flight she was in charge of my food. At first they couldn’t find a meal. The salmon looked lovely but was paired with barley, the chicken had teriyaki sauce on it. Finally she came to me and said “We have one Hindu meal left, Chicken Tikka Masala. Can you eat that?” I guess I was quite enthusiastic and appropriately grateful. She also brought me oat cakes for snack and with breakfast.
Breakfast was a cheese omelet and potatoes. She also piled on the fruit cup, a yogurt, and orange juice. I was thrilled and full. Not a single gluten disturbance the whole flight.

Cheers to the attendants in Economy on British Airways flight 288 from Phoenix to London on July 18, 2015. You have no idea how happy you made me.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I can only hope our Aer Lingus flight home is as accommodating. At least i have already assigned the pre-order.

I took the opportunity to spend the long weekend in my home town of Tucson, Az. In recent years, Tucson’s gluten-free friendliness has increased and more and more restaurants have done more than just make a “gluten sensitive” menu. They have trained their staff to understand Celiac problems and what ingredients might contain hidden gluten.
My experiences this weekend were exceptional. I relay a brief summary of the restaurants I visited and what I ordered.

Eegee’s – This local Tucson sandwich and slushy chain is NOT set up for gluten free dining. However, because they don’t deep fry anything but french fries, their Ore Ida crinkle cut fries are pretty safe and their Eegee (slushy) drinks are amazing. On the way into town, I picked up a Pizza Fries and a large Pina Colada Eegee for lunch. They have ranch fries as well but I’m unsure if the bacon bits are safe, so it might be worth asking if that’s your thing.

Seoul Kitchen – My friend and I were a little late for dinner and walked in just after 9pm on Friday night. We checked with the staff to make sure we could still order without inconveniencing them (they close at 9:30pm) and they graciously served us. Korean food is not very safe for Celiacs but I have an unnatural love of Kimchi (which is safe), so I have been known to step into a Korean restaurant at least once a week just for homemade kimchi. I ordered the Kimchi Tofu and had a lovely meal. The traditional sides included kimchi spiced radish and cabbage as well. The potato side is likely not gluten free and I am told it contains soy sauce (most ss has wheat in it.)

US Fries – I was shocked to find out that this company actually carries a gluten free turkey gravy just for us. I was introduced to poutine years before I was diagnosed with Celiac and when I found out about this company recently, I figured that my poutine days were over, so I didn’t even bother to look at the menu. The fries have their own dedicated fryer, the gal at the register was super knowledgeable about gluten free safety and she even went back into the kitchen to ensure my food was done right. Yes, I know, more french fries… I go a little crazy when I can find places with safe fries. I am a potato fanatic.

Epic Cafe – The gluten free options are limited but the staff is knowledgeable and the flavors and freshness are wonderful. I got a half/half soup/salad with the best carrot and ginger bisque I’ve ever had along side a large (half?) serving of Greek salad with balsamic vinegar and oil on the side. As a matter of fact, the gal taking my order also prepped my food and checked the Ranch dressing for me (which had maltodextrin in it which COULD contain hidden gluten) and she knew it might be a problem. Most folks wouldn’t know that. Their coffee is delicious too.

Also recommended are places I have visited in the past:

Remember that experiences may vary depending on what staff is on shift, how busy the kitchen is, etc. ALWAYS make sure to question your server about the safety of your food. If they don’t know and are unwilling to check on things for you, it’s better to be safe and not eat there. I always appreciate people willing to learn, I never appreciate it when someone is unwilling to check something for me.

It looks like there will be more on traveling with gluten free soon. Stay tuned!

My husband and I decided to gift my parents with a trip anywhere they wanted to go for their 50th wedding anniversary last year. Instead of the two of them jaunting off together into the sunset for a few weeks, they asked if we could go with them to Orkney where my dad had done some genealogy research and connected with distant family members in previous years. Because the number of tickets needed more than doubled, we had to save up for an extra year to afford it.
Flights have been purchased and we’re getting ready to take off to Ireland and the UK for a whirlwind 2 week vacation.
We booked flights with Aer Lingus because I had flown with them before in 2005 and knew they had an adequate setup for gluten free accommodations. We booked online and I searched desperately for the option to designate a meal preference during the ticket purchase. There was none. After the flights were confirmed, I logged in to the site again with the flight information to see if it could be selected after the fact. There was no option available. Since it was after hours for their US customer service, I emailed them with my name and the flight information for both directions and received a quick and pleasant response:

Thank you for contacting Aer Lingus NA Pre-Flight Care.  Per your email, we have 
requested a Gluten-free Meal (GFML) for you on your flight from SFO to DUB and 
also for your return flight from DUB to IAD. 
 
Kind Regards, 
 
Kathy 
Pre Flight Care 
Aer Lingus North America

Cheers to Kathy for responding so quickly and efficiently. More once we’re on the road.


		

About 15 or so years ago, I worked for a friend’s restaurant in Tucson, AZ as a server. The owners were a married couple, the husband (K) and chef was an Aerospace Engineer from Libya and the wife (M), server and bookkeeper, was a Sociologist and Teacher. They decided to run their own business in order to have jobs that would allow them to spend time with their kids.
When I worked there it was very much a family affair and I’d been made part of the family. As a matter of fact, they had been friends of the family for at least a decade before I came to work for them, but you never really get to know someone until you spend several hours every day with them. It was a great relationship.
Whenever things were slow-ish, K would teach me how to prepare the dishes. He never measured a thing and said all his recipes were learned from his mother back in Libya. Certain things had to be very specific (like VERY finely chopped parsley in the tabouli or how many tablespoons of herbs went in the salad dressing), but other things were more based on taste rather than a set recipe. So you’ll get no recipe here, just ingredients and pictures.
So this is how I learned to make some Middle Eastern dishes. Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I can’t have the bulgar wheat in Tabouli any longer, so I have replaced it with other things. At first I used brown rice that I toasted briefly in a dry frying pan before cooking, but then I discovered Quinoa.

The secret to K’s tabouli was that the parsley had to be extraordinarily finely chopped, and lots of it. The salad was mostly parsley, diced tomatoes and finely chopped onions with only about 1/4 of the dish being bulgar. I prefer more grain in my salad and I love cucumbers, so I added those as well. Add in lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste and you have a really simple, fresh, and delicious salad for a meal or side dish.

TIP: Instead of the time consuming fine chopping K always had me do, I used a food processor for my parsley.

Here’s all the layers ready to combine:

All the ingredients in the bowl, ready to be combined

All the ingredients in the bowl, ready to be combined

 

You could stir it up to combine it, but I decided to just put the lid on the container and shake it over the sink.

After mixing

After mixing

 

Wild Rice

Wild Rice (Photo credit: Indiana Public Media)

Frequently, I have friends ask me to help them with a friend or family member who has recently been told to try a gluten free diet for medical reasons. They may not have Celiac, but there have been a few studies out showing that gluten can cause inflammation, so those with pain-related autoimmune diseases (like Rheumatoid Arthritis), it’s becoming more common for doctors to recommend a gluten free diet.

Since the holidays are coming up, my friend Carolyn told me her aunt is now gluten free and the family is trying to find good recipes for holiday meals. I offered to share two of my favorites from when my husband and I were first married and I opted to host Thanksgiving dinner at our house that year.

I’m not a big fan of turkey and had never cooked it before. Instead of risking disaster on my first meal with the in-laws, I opted to try a smaller, more manageable bird.

Orange-Roasted Cornish Game Hens (recipe originally obtained from Better Homes and Gardens and modified slightly)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock (broth can contain gluten, so make sure the package says “stock”)
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons cornstarch
31 – 1 1/4 pounds Cornish game hens, split lengthwise
1 medium orange, cut into 6 wedges
Orange slices (optional)
1. Heat oil in a pan. For sauce, cook onion and garlic in the saucepan until onion is tender.
2. In a small bowl stir together chicken broth, orange peel, orange juice, honey, and cornstarch. Stir into onion mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce.
3. In a shallow roasting pan place each hen half atop one orange wedge. Baste with some of the remaining sauce.
4. Roast in a 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender (180 degrees F). Baste hen halves with remining sauce after 30 minutes.
5. Transfer hen halves to a serving platter. Serve with reserved sauce. If desired, garnish with orange slices and parsley.
Serves 6

————————————————–

In order to tie in the orange with other parts of the meal, I made this:

Orange pear cranberry sauce

1 cup sugar
the zest of one orange
the juice of two oranges
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 fresh red pear diced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice1. Heat sugar on high in a pan with orange zest and the juice of one orange. Stir until a syrup is created.
2. Stir in cranberries and pear pieces until they are coated in the syrup.
3. Lower heat to medium. Add juice of second orange and cover until all the fruit is cooked through and slightly mushy.
4. Add cinnamon and allspice.
Serves 4-6
———————————————–
Instead of stuffing I made this:

Homemade mushroom wild rice

2 cups wild rice
1 can low sodium beef stock (or chicken or veg, your choice)
2 cups water
1 cup moistened (from dry) shitake mushrooms (reserve liquid)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic1. Cook rice in broth and water until liquid is gone and rice is soft.
2. Stir in mushrooms and reserved liquid, onions and garlic and simmer until onions are tender.
Serves 10-12

I got this recipe from a cook book and I’m afraid I don’t remember which one. I’ll update as soon as I find it again and give credit where it’s due.

I like to share recipes on the Celiac Disease support groups online to help folks adapt to going gluten free without having to pay an arm and a leg for special high priced mixes and all that. Many of those mixes aren’t appetizing at all anyway and really not worth the money.
This recipe I use to top pot pies. They are a favorite winter meal for my family.

Pre-Mix

  • 4 cups GF flour mix (I use Bob’s Redmill)
  • 3 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 cup less 1tbsp butter
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. With a pastry blender, cut the butter until no lumps appear. Store in a 2 quart container in the fridge.

To make biscuits: Preheat the oven to 400F. To 1 1/4 cups mix, add 1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water. Handle gently and roll out on a rice floured board (I just make spoon biscuits and they turn out just fine). Bake 12 – 15 minutes.

To top Pot Pies: To 1 1/4 cups mix, add 1 egg beaten with 1/3 cup water. Stir to moisten and drop by spoonfuls onto the hot stew or pie. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until topping is brown.

I’ve been playing around with raw food recipes over the past few months because almost all of them are gluten free and a great way to squeeze more fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet.

Recently I checked out Ani Phyo‘s “Ani’s Raw Food Desserts” from the library and tested out a few desserts. Today’s favorite I picked because my husband loves key lime desserts and it looked simple. We hit the store last night and picked up the ingredients and today I whipped up a batch of her Key Lime Kream Bars this morning. I’m happy to say I got to be the first one to try them. I didn’t make the whole recipe, just 1/4 of it because I didn’t have enough cashews for a whole batch… plus it’s a test batch. I think I’ll be testing this much more. I highly recommend Ani Phyo’s books and plan on purchasing a copy of this one as well. Even if you don’t plan on going Vegan and raw, the recipes have turned out beautifully and tasty and will spice up any diet with some healthy stuff.

Below is the recipe at 1/4 size of what the book calls for.

  • 1 cup raw Cashews
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 cup agave syrup
  • 1/8 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Scoop the mixture into a square container and freeze until chilled (about 1 hour). Cut into bars and enjoy.

 

The weekend before this past one I was in charge of the hospitality suite at a fantasy/steampunk convention called DarkCon here in the valley. I found Kodiak through whom I could get bulk fresh produce the day I needed it, so I purchased all my produce through them. Unfortunately, everything in the giant box of bananas was still green, so I couldn’t put them out to be consumed until the last day of the convention.

So I brought them home and contemplated what to do with a box-load of bananas. The group that puts on DarkCon also throws four parties a year, so I decided I should make some baked goods to freeze and bring to the parties.

My first project was to make some gluten free banana bread, but I wanted to make them easy to handle/carry so I made banana bread muffins.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large bananas, mashed (over ripe is best)
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Redmill All Purpose)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl at medium-low speed until smooth and combined, scrape the sides down as it mixes.

Place cupcake liners in your muffin pan, or grease pan thoroughly, then add a large spoon full of the batter into each.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 18 minutes or until the muffins are dark golden brown and cracked slightly on top. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Makes between a dozen and 18 muffins depending on how big you want them.

 

 

 

 

Now you could very well go out and find Gluten Free English Muffins and make this recipe using that instead of potatoes, but I like to save on budget. In the photo you’ll see a piece of GF toast. I make a point not to pick up replacement foods unless they are on a sale that allows them a more reasonable price. The bread was one of those sale items and I rarely have any in the house. I believe the jacking up of price simply because they can slap a Gluten Free label on it is a form of fraud, and I won’t contribute to the delusion that gluten free means more expensive.
(For example, Honey Nut Chex is on sale right now at my local grocery store for $1.99 a box. Normally it’s closer to $5 per box. You can guarantee that at $1.99 the store and the manufacturer are STILL MAKING A PROFIT. However, the price of Chex skyrocketed the minute Gluten Free was printed on the package.)

I digress.

For Christmas morning I tried this recipe out, and today (New Years Eve Day) I thought I’d do it again. The photo is of today’s meal. The recipe is universal.

First, I’ll note that I had never made Hollandaise sauce before. I was led to believe it was a difficult task. I wanted to do this nice fancy breakfast for the kids, so I went looking for a recipe.

I found this one Blender Hollandaise Sauce Recipe and it turned out fantastic! (The link is to All Recipes and allows you to adjust the recipe for the number of servings. Below is the recipe at 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
  • 1/2 cup butter

Directions

  1. In the container of a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.
  2. Place the butter in a glass measuring cup. Heat butter in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until completely melted and hot. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water.

 

I cooked up some ham AND bacon (because everything is better with bacon) had the non-Celiac teenager toast up english muffins for everyone but me and I made tiny browned potatoes for me. Slide a fried egg on top of your tower of meat and carbohydrates, then drizzle the tasty Hollandaise on top.

So delicious!

 

Me!
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