Monday, December 21, 2009

cooooookie


Last year's gluten-free roll-out sugar cookies were, well... okay. Not fabulous. I found a recipe that made me happy because it rolled out so easily, yay! But the taste wasn't great. They were made with oil rather than butter, and I blame the oil.

I looked around on the internet for gf roll out cookie recipes, and found a few that looked good. I always look to Gluten Free Gobsmacked, Gluten Free Girl, Living Without Magazine, and a few others. GF Girl and Living Without had a similar recipe, so I gave one or the other of them a try. I can't remember which is which now. The dough is sitting in the fridge right now. It seems a bit too loose to roll out, though. *sigh*

The gluten-filled cookie baking has also started. The pistachio biscotti are cooling on the rack right now, and the dough for the gluten roll out cookies is also cooling. It is quite firm, and will roll out very well. I'll also be making almond biscotti, date balls (we call them Christmas crack, they are so addictive!), and perhaps some gingerbread, if there is time. I also found out that the Italian pignoli cookies, which are soooo yummy, are gluten free! Almond paste, sugar, confectioner's sugar, egg whites, pine nuts. I'd like to make those, too. Like most GF cookies, I think the shelf life is pretty short for these. I wonder if they freeze well...

The roads were clear enough today to get out of the house, and the snow plow cleared our road last night, so I was able to get out to the store. I stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up pistachios and pine nuts, flour and other goodies. They were cooking a baked bread pudding made out of their panettone bread. They added milk, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla... oh, it was yummy! They were also walking around handing out samples of their fruit filled chocolate truffles. I tried the pomegranite. MMMM.

Then, of course, I had to go to the "regular" grocery store to pick up supplies that were not available at Trader Joes -- gushers, which are Daniel's sugar of choice when his blood sugar goes low, cream cheese, and some spices. And in a few minutes I will go to YET ANOTHER grocery store -- the organic place -- where I can get more xanthan gum and some GF supplies. Wow, it would be so nice to have one store that sold all that stuff!

Okay, time to get the boots back on...

In a few minutes I have to go to the

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hello?

The first phone problem was weather-related. Or so we thought, because what happened was, every time it rained, we got a horrible buzz sound on our phone line. So we called Verizon and told them the problem, and invariably they would come and check it out on a nice, sunny day, and there would be no problem with the line. Hmph.

Finally it happened that the repairman arrived on a rainy day (after much complaining to Verizon). He said yes, there is a problem! He checked the box outside the house, then took his long ladder off of his truck, and climbed the telephone pole across the street. Then he left for a while. His truck was gone for about an hour, but the ladder was still up against the pole (with an orange cone next to it for safety). He came back climbed up the pole, changed something, and then came to the door and asked me to check the line. Yay! The buzz was gone! I thanked him.

The next day, the fax noises started. We had no problem calling out. But when the phone rang and we picked up, it sounded like someone was trying to fax us. I thought whoever was doing it would finally figure out that we are not waiting on a fax.

But then, my husband was out, and he called home. And his phone call produced the fax tone. He asked me if our fax machine was plugged in. I double checked it -- and NO, the machine was not plugged into the wall at all! Not the electricity plug, not the phone line -- NOTHING. After a couple of days we figured out that if we grabbed the phone on the first ring, we wouldn't hear the fax tone. If we let it ring more than once, the fax tone would scream during the phone call. We could hear the caller, and they could hear us -- only in between the fax screeches.

So, of course, we called Verizon again. They let us know that their repair schedule was very busy, but they could get to us within about 10 days. But wait, we said, this was caused by the person who just repaired the line! Can you come back?

back and forth and back and forth with supervisor

Okay, we'll make it a week. Ugh. So for the past week we've been diving for the phone to catch it on the first ring.

Yesterday it was supposed to be fixed. My daughter got an automated message on our answering machine from Verizon saying the problem was fixed.... followed by a screeching fax tone. So I called Verizon and explained that the problem was not fixed. The gentleman on the phone told me that the case was closed, so they had to open a new case, and someone could come by... well, they are very busy.... January 6th or 7th.

NO! Then I went round and round with the guy about how the case is not closed, it is NOT fixed, they have to come back and do what they were supposed to do THAT DAY. Nothing helped. Fine. I hung up in disgust.

Luckily my husband had the name of the supervisor he had spoken to originally, who had scheduled the repair for yesterday. They scheduled someone to arrive today. Between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Very convenient.

Is it time to drop the home phone? Is there anyone out there who no longer has a land line, and just uses cell service? I'm wondering if it is something we should do....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Talking to the Universe

I teach a wonderful 6th grade class at our UU church. It's the "Growing Up Year," where we visit different houses of worship and learn about many religions, including our own. I think it is a way not only to build tolerance of others by finding common ground and dispelling mysteries, it is also a way to pin down and put into words what it is that we believe. Quite an accomplishment for 11-12 year old kids.

Today we did a follow up class to several different field trips, and we had the kids write down what beliefs they remembered from their visits. We put signs up on the wall -- Totally, firmly agree; agree; unsure corner; hm... disagree; and totally, firmly disagree. Then we read the beliefs out loud, and we all had to move around the room to stand under the sign that matches our feeling about a belief.

Sometimes the wording of these beliefs can change where I stand. There's "I believe that prayer works," versus "Meditation gives me peace of mind." Is there a difference between prayer and meditation? One seems to be TO a deity, while the other is turned inward. However, if you believe that god, or a holy spirit, or the great life force is within all of us, then meditation can be considered prayer TO the deity within. These are some of the tricky questions the 6th graders wrestle with -- as do I.

I tend to ask the universe for a lot. It's kind of like throwing spaghetti up on the wall -- at some point something will stick. I don't know what's out there in the universe, but perhaps something holy is listening. (Not last week, though. We didn't get that snow day). And yet, when I'm talking to the "universe," I feel like I'm actually sinking deep inside of myself. That's more like a description of meditation.

There's also that whole "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" way of prayer/meditation. If you want something in your life, imagine it is already there. So I spend lots of time imagining (in a background sort of way, while I'm getting on with daily life) that diabetes has been cured. That scientists have found the key to autoimmune diseases. That life got a little easier. It calms me down. Is it "working?" I don't know. Maybe it will, but I won't know in my lifetime. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to see this part of my imagination come to life. Then I'll *really* have a great lesson to bring to class! How I'd love to stand under that "Firmly, Totally Agree" sign when it comes to the power of prayer!

These kids I teach -- they are wonderful. So expressive, full of wonder, and so very intelligent. They made me think about all this STUFF (as they say) today, as they do each week. So today, in addition to asking the universe for so many things, I'd like to thank it for sending me this particular group of wonderful kids. Thanks for my co-teacher, who makes me laugh. Thanks for this wonderful UU community, which feels like home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Mad Rush

It's hard to believe that December is knocking on the door. This year has gone by so fast! There are times I get caught up in life's stresses, and then I stop for a moment and see how quickly everything is passing. It's tough to live in the moment, but so necessary for the soul. This wild and precious thing that we have -- it's fleeting. It's wonderful.

I was very thankful this Thanksgiving for the love and closeness of family and friends. For people to share our food and our company. Yes, I was cooking like crazy, but was also able to sit back and enjoy the people around me, which was the spiritual renewal I needed.

Diabetes sat quietly in the background, thank goodness. It was tough to figure out all the carbs, especially when teenage boy-ness takes over in the presence of all that good food! Daniel's numbers stayed excellent all through the meal -- between 70 and 90 -- but were on the high side the next morning. All that high fat stuff kicking in, I suppose. We still haven't figured out that dual wave timing for high fat foods. I guess this will take years of practice!

Ah well, on to another week, and the crazy, jam-packed days of December. Speaking of high fat, it's time to gather the ingredients for cookies, toffee, and biscotti. Can I have a few more of these 5 day weekends?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gluten Free Turkey Gravy for Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving is my major cooking day. I like to get a lot of things out of the way the day before so that Thanksgiving day is low key -- baste the turkey, cook some veggies, heat the rolls, stir up the gravy, and say thanks.

I made my gravy base the other day, and it is waiting for the drippings from the cooked turkey. Here is how you make it:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 large onions, thinly sliced (I use sweet onions)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and saute until deep brown, about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally so they don't stick. You are slowly carmelizing the onions. Add the rosemary and thyme, then the cornstarch, and stir for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and honey, simmer about 2 minutes. It will seem gloppy and smell quite sharply of the vinegar, but this is all good. I puree this mixture with an immersion blender, let it cool, and then put it in the fridge until Thanksgiving day.

Cook your turkey the way you usually do... I run my fingers between the skin & breast of the turkey and stuff some fresh herbs in there -- rosemary, basil, thyme -- whatever I have on hand. I still have parsley growing happily in the garden right now, so I'm going to put that in this year.

When you cook your turkey, baste it with chicken stock. I do 3/4 to 1 cup broth every 30 minutes or so. When the turkey is done cooking, strain the liquid into a large, heat proof measuring cup. Spoon the fat off the top. Take your refrigerated gravy base and heat it in a large saucepan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch, then 8 cups of juices from the turkey. Boil until the gravy is reduced to about 7 cups, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Season, if necessary, with salt and pepper.

This is the most delicious turkey gravy recipe I've ever had.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shopping, stuffing, Thanksgiving, gluten free!

I'm almost done shopping for this year's version of gluten-free thanksgiving. On the menu: turkey, cranberry sauce with oranges & red wine, wild rice & apricot stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cream pie. My mom is bringing the sweet potatoes.

I've only really made two major changes to the thanksgiving menu since making it gluten free. I don't do a bread stuffing anymore, and I had to de-gluten the pie crust recipe. I *could* do a bread stuffing with gluten-free bread. I really love the corn bread recipe in the Nearly Normal cookbook, and would happily make that into stuffing for the bird. Perhaps I will next year. But last year I tried out the recipe for the wild rice & apricot stuffing, and liked it so much that I want to repeat it. Here's how it goes:

In a large heavy saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add and cook for 3 - 5 minutes: 2 finely chopped onions, 2 stalks finely chopped celery, 5 cloves of minced garlic. When those ingredients have stirred around and gotten to know each other, add 16 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms and some chestnuts. How many chestnuts? I guess that depends on how much you like them. For years I got fresh chestnuts, roasted them, and wrestled the darned things out of their shells, cutting up my fingers in the process. Last year I bought a jar of peeled chestnuts. It was pricey, but it was my present to myself. I just did the same today, and my fingertips are already thanking me.

Anyway... stir all this stuff around for a few minutes, then add 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, and 2/3 cup orange juice. Bring to a boil. Stir in 2 cups long grain brown rice, 3/4 cup wild rice, and a teaspoon each of sage and thyme. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 35 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of chopped dried apricots and 1/4 cup craisins. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until rice is tender. Add 3/4 cup pine nuts, slivered, toasted almonds, or pecan pieces, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, and a teaspoon of salt (to taste) and pepper (to taste).

You have to let this mixture cool completely before stuffing your turkey. When you baste the turkey while it is cooking, the juices flow through the wild rice stuffing, harmonizing all the flavors into happy eating for your family.

I make a carmelized onion gravy base for the turkey, and the great thing is that it can be made ahead of time. I'm off to do that now, along with other obligations, and have to stop typing. I will try to write about that later this weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's all about the numbers. And the grades.

The good news was that Daniel's A1c came down to 7.2, which means we're getting the hang of this pumping thing (after a year). The bad news was that we finally had one of those scares that the diabetes nurse warned us about -- high blood sugars plus ketones -- that comes from a pump mistake. Daniel woke up about 2 a.m. the other night with all the classic symptoms: a pounding headache, dry mouth, gotta pee, etc. His bg was about 470, and of course, he felt like crap. The pee stick showed large ketones. My husband had gotten up with him, and then woke me to check in and see if we should go to the ER.

I checked the good old diabetes manual for instructions. I think the people at Children's National Medical Center in DC give great take-home instructions for all their diabetes-related stuff. It is easy to follow, even at 2 a.m., and helped us get through the night without an ER trip.

There's really nothing you can do but keep checking blood sugar readings. Every 15 - 20 minutes, each time we checked, they were going down. I finally sent Daniel back to bed at 4 a.m. with a bg of 280, and told him I would wake him at 5:30 to check again. At that point he was back to normal.

Other than that blip, his numbers have been really great for some time now. Hope I'm not jinxing myself. But I'm happy with the insulin pump therapy. Now let's find a cure for this stinkin' disease!!!

On a totally unrelated subject, I started writing this blog tonight because I was mad, and I had to calm myself down. Writing about diabetes was a good distraction, and I think I'm pretty calm now. My youngest son Dominic takes Tae Kwon Do, and is a blue belt. He's taken classes at the same studio for several years now. Lately the studio has instituted a report card system. After every class, the child presents his report card for a grade on how he did in class.

Dominic recently wanted to quit Tae Kwon Do. It's in the evening, and he's been pretty tired, but we encouraged him to persevere. However, tonight I wanted to yank him out of that place. After he decided to NOT quit, he started giving his all. However, he is an 8 year old boy, and is subject to some moments of inattention. Tonight was NOT one of those nights. They were practicing their forms over and over. I noticed that at one point in the form, he kept turning the wrong direction. There were 2 teachers in the room, and 9 or 10 kids. One of the teachers went over the fact that some people were turning the wrong direction, but Dominic didn't get it. No one went up to him and corrected his form.

The teachers asked questions about what certain terms meant, and why you lifted your heel off the ground at one point, etc. etc. Dominic raised his hand and was called on a couple of times. He got the answers correct.

Then the teachers separated the blue belts from the rest of the class to do push ups, sit ups, and squats. There were 4 blue belts, including Dominic. One of them was asked to lead the push ups, and he kept fooling around, and they had to restart the push up count a couple of times. Then the teacher asked the kids to move to a different side of the room. Dominic did so by rolling across the floor. The teacher said to him, "Dominic!" That's all. Another kid crab-walked. The teacher said, "Can't you guys just walk?" Then they did their sit ups, and sat waiting for the other group to finish. They were talking to each other, but quietly. I motioned to Dominic to come talk to me, and I told him that when he was doing his form, he turned in the wrong direction at step three, and I was concerned that he would get that wrong when it came to testing time. He said, "Oh, okay!" And went back to sit and wait.

Then all the kids were called back to do their forms again. This time, Dominic turned in the correct direction.

It was almost the end of class. The owner of the studio came out and called out two of the kids -- the one who was messing around when he was supposed to do the push up count, and Dominic, telling them that they had to stop interrupting the class, pay attention, and quit fooling around. Dominic turned and looked at me with that WTF???? look -- because he had not done anything to cause problems! He was told that his testing paperwork was being held until he could learn to control himself. When it came time to get his report card, they gave him a C for the night.

In all the years he's been taking classes, when he would get the wiggles, or mess around in class, Dominic would get a lecture from me afterwards. I let him know that he needed to respect his teachers, to pay attention in class, and to do his best if he wanted to succeed. Tonight I saw that his form was solid, that he put energy into his punches and kicks. He didn't do a half-assed job, he was focused.

So I followed the teacher to the back room and asked why Dominic got a C. He said, "because he rolled across the floor." I told the teacher that I noticed that Dominic had worked hard all evening. He knew answers to the questions, his form has really improved. Did he not see that? The teacher said, "he rolled across the floor." Well I guess that negates everything else he did in the class. I told him that I respectfully disagreed with his opinion, and that one roll shouldn't take away from all his hard work. Mind you, this is the teacher who is the son of the studio's business manager. I have noticed, for a long time, that he has less patience with the kids than all the other teachers, and does not teach the forms, or kicks, or punches in a clear manner. Blah.

Then I went to the head of the studio, who basically agreed that Dominic has improved. But that he has to stop interrupting the class, and improve some more. That he understand that with his asthma that he can't always perform, but he can try to improve.

Okay -- my eyes were about to pop out of my head. Dominic does not have asthma. Who the hell was he talking about? I sit through all of these classes. Dominic does not interrupt the class. Again, who the hell was he talking about? I looked the head master in the eye when he said we all can improve, and said, "Yes, everyone can improve. EVERYONE." Including you, you idiot. And then he went on and on about kids in the after school program not working so hard, versus kids in the evening program really pushing themselves, and nothing he said made much sense. My kid IS in the evening program! He has been working his butt off. And he doesn't have asthma! It was weird, like he was talking about somebody else!

When we left the studio, I told Dominic how proud I was of his achievements. I told him that they didn't see his effort, but that I did, and that he shouldn't hang his head. I will not send him back to a place where they put him down in front of the whole class without justification. Yeah, that's a great way to get kids to want to achieve. The good old "make them feel like shit" method. And I'm paying for this? Not anymore.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Soup's On!

The weather is getting cool, the leaves are falling... it's soup time! We've started enjoying this comfort food with come gluten free cornbread or a salad on the side. Make's a great meal! I just made a sausage lentil soup, but this soup can easily be made without meat for my vegetarian friends.

Sausage Lentil Soup

1 pound mild sausage (I used mild Italian, but any will do)
1 cup brown lentils, picked over & rinsed
1 cup red lentils, picked over & rinsed
8 cups chicken stock
2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 couple of ribs of celery, diced
2 T olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 T cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
2 T brown sugar

In a large pot or dutch oven, crumble the sausage and saute until brown in 1 T of the olive oil. Remove from pot and set aside. Add another tbsp. of oil, and saute the onion, carrots, celery, and salt until the onion is transparent. Add the lentils, chicken stock, pepper, cumin, garlic, and the cooked sausage, and bring to a boil. Simmer, cover, and cook for 1/2 hour. Add the diced tomatoes, wine, vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar. Simmer for another 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.

When I serve this, I will often put a dollop of sour cream or tsasiki or plain yogurt on top. YUM!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's in Retrograde?

This morning I was talking to a kid from my son's enrichment activity class, who was saying how he was so scared of Friday the 13th because it is so unlucky! I told him not to let the movies or magazines convince him that one day is more unlucky than another -- it's just a day. He didn't believe me. And while I really don't think one day is any luckier or unluckier than another, I have had the feeling in the past couple of weeks that I've been out of synch with the dance of the universe. Either that, or it is trying to tell me something. My sister in law says it is trying to tell me that I've got too much on my plate, and that may be true.

Last week on Tuesday, the hard drive on my work computer crashed. I lost everything I had from the beginning of the school year -- my lesson plans, my long range plans, templates, sample documents... you name it. I walked around in a daze for a couple of days, and then, when I got a new laptop, started the process of rebuilding from scratch. At least I got my grades in on time.

Then I found the back up disk I made at the end of the last school year. HOORAY! I put it in the computer. The computer will not recognize the disk. I took it to another computer. Same story. *sigh* Something is wrong with the disk. No computer will read it.

Then, my iPod, which is my calendar, my contact book, my music, my recipes, my encyclopedia, and on and on, was stolen. I already wrote about that. I'm still trying to get on paper all the events I had stored on that thing.

Yesterday, while in the mad rush to get myself & two of my kids to school in the morning, I hear a crash as we are all getting in the car. Nora knocked over a shutter that I had stripped & was getting ready to repaint, and it splintered as it hit the garage floor. *sigh* again. I picked up the pieces and said, don't worry, we'll find another shutter. As I'm getting into the car I hear Nora say, "OH NO!" She knocked over my entire cup of coffeee, glug glug glug, onto the car floor. Okay, that one made me squawk. I ran to get a towel, smooshed it into the rug, and drove away, because I had to get in for morning duty. And as much as I love the smell of coffee... that's not what I needed in the car! I wasn't mad, just... tired of all these crazy things!

Today I was trying to plan ahead for halloween, and as the kids are carving their pumpkins, I started a chicken roasting in the oven so they would have some protein before gorging on candy. About 45 minutes before it was done, I added a bunch of baby potatoes and some chicken stock. Nora watched as I added them, inhaling and saying, "oooh, that smells good!"

CRASH! The pyrex dish holding the chicken exploded into a jagged mess, the stock hit the heating element, and flames roared up from the bottom of the oven. I turned off the oven. The flames went out on their own. Nora turned to me, her eyes wide, and I just shook my head and laughed.
had a friend years ago who was really into horoscope stuff and swore that when mercury was in retrograde you should just hide in the basement for a couple of weeks.
Okay. That's enough. I actually went online to see if mercury was in retrograde, because I

Mercury is not in retrograde, but something is up, something is wonky, something is impishly having a little ha ha ha, and I'd like it to stop now. Please. My husband just came home from his long journey and I don't feel like staying in the basement!

Oh yeah... Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bubbles and Knots

It's been just about a year since Daniel started on the insulin pump. He's been so happy with the pump and has much better control over his blood sugar than he had using the Novolog/Lantus therapy. Of course there are issues unique to pumping, including bubbles & knots (in the tubing), and the occasional surprise rrrrrrrrip out when tubing catches on something. Daniel had all three of these things occur this week, leading to highs and hair removal (ouch! :-) ) I wonder if anyone else finds that as they get to the end of an insulin bottle, there is more of a tendency for bubbles to show up in the tubing?

Daniel woke up with a 350 bg this morning, and a knot tied in his tube. Maybe he is doing macrame in his sleep. But it's never a fun morning when his blood sugar is so high. I hope it went down in time for him to concentrate on today's tests.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the next A1C check in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we'll keep on pumping...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Catch Up

I missed school yesterday because my Dominic missed school yesterday because he was sick. Today his homework was mountainous (for a 3rd grader) and my school work was similarly arduous (as I am still recovering from last week's hard drive crash).

When I'm teaching, and I see a kid who is obviously under the weather, I sigh and wonder why that kid is in school when he or she should be home in bed. And when I'm at home with a sick child I push him along into wellness as soon as possible so that I can get back to work and get things done.

I hate being torn between work and family, or between taking care of illness and taking care of work. How many of us have gone into work feeling crappy because it's too difficult to deal with making up what we would miss if we stayed home? There's no good middle ground.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gluten Free Bagels



I saw a recipe for Gluten Free Bagels in the Living Without magazine. Have I said before that I think that's an awful name for a magazine? How about Gluten Free and Fantastic!!! "Living Without" is such a downer. Anyway, I'm home with a sick child today and found myself with some free time, so I gave the bagel recipe a try. They turned out pretty good, and were actually relatively quick and easy to make.

It called for a multi-grain flour blend that was mixed with salt, flax meal, egg replacer, yeast, and xanthan gum. The dry ingredients were mixed with warm water, oil, cider vinegar, and honey.

The mixture, when it came together, was like an extremely sticky dough. But it wasn't too difficult to handle. You let it rise, then boil it (that's what makes it a bagel!) and then bake it.

I also recently found a new cream cheese flavor in the grocery store -- spinach & artichoke -- which was a very happy discovery! Daniel slathered some of that on his bagel... and then on his 2nd bagel... and was a happy teenager.

I don't want to get in trouble with Living Without by reprinting their stuff without permission. If anyone wants the exact recipe, drop me a comment and I'd be happy to send it to you.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lost!

Back in the day, when I first started working, people would carry around their fat little appointment books. There were calendars, phone number and address pages, slots for business cards... you know -- the stuff you had to carry around back in the dark ages before someone invented the palm pilot. I worked at a radio station, and I remember one time one of the salespeople lost her book; left it in a cab or something. And she was frantic, she was a mess. It was gone, and had to be totally reconstructed. From memory... ha!

So at least when you lose a pda, there's probably (hopefully?) a back up somewhere of your information. I'll be able to re-synch a new ipod from my computer, when my husband returns from his trip with my computer, and I'll be able to get most of my info back. Except that damned doctor's appointment that I have tomorrow. I wrote down the name of the new doctor, the address, and the phone number in the ipod. I wrote the time of the appointment on the calendar on the wall.

I think I remember the street name, so I'm going to call all the dermatologists on that street tomorrow and see if I have an appointment there at 9:15.

Our lovely electronic devices are supposed to make life easier. Unless they get lost, or their hard drive crashes, or they fall in the toilet, or the dog chews on them. It's not a perfect system for backing up my brain.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our lovely electronic devices

Last school year Daniel brought a video game to school because a friend of his wanted to borrow it (a DS game, those tiny little things). Actually, for some unknown reason he brought his whole pack of games instead of the one. The pack of games was in his back pack during bio class, and then when he went to lunch, 20 min. later, they were gone. He thought he dropped them. Checked back through the classroom the hallways, the lunchroom. They were gone.

Our initial reaction was, of course, "WHY DID YOU BRING THOSE TO SCHOOL??" And then we told him that they were probably stolen. Daniel refused to believe that anyone could have stolen his stuff. Well, after days & weeks of looking, hearing some rumors, filing a police report, and setting up a sting, the perpetrator was caught and he replaced all of Daniel's games. It was a tough lesson and I think it hurt Daniel's faith in human nature. He was mad at himself, he was mad at the situation, and ultimately, even the return of his stuff was bittersweet.

Moving on to.... Today! I took my youngest to his Saturday enrichment class, and then went to a parent meeting about the 7 keys for college readiness. Yee ha. I multi-tasked during the meeting, with my laptop open on the table, trying to take care of teaching-related work while listening to the speaker. You see, Tuesday my hard drive crashed. I lost all my info from this school year -- my grades, my templates, my lesson plans... you name it. I just started using delicious.com for bookmarks, so I had a few of those saved, but many others were still just on my bookmark menu.

I taught through Tuesday without really knowing what I was teaching. I couldn't hook my laptop up to the projector to demonstrate a new concept. I had a hard copy of the week's lesson plans, but my brain was in a fog as I tried to puzzle out exactly what I had lost. And it's the end of the quarter! Grades are due!

With what was backed up to the network from the year before, I was able to recreate my grading sheets and lesson plan templates. By Thursday afternoon I had a replacement laptop, but my motivation had taken a severe blow. But my hubby send me a big bouquet of flowers, and I disappeared into some good yoga for a while, and came out of my funk able to let go of what I can't control. Move on. Back to work. Recreate what is lost. Start typing.

So, back to the meeting. I was reminded during the meeting of something I needed to add to my grocery list, so I took my itouch out of my purse and added some things to the never-ending list that I keep. I put the itouch back in my purse and zipped it. I remember this. The meeting ended soon after, so I put my computer away, grabbed my jacket, made a quick stop in the ladies' room, and then headed to the car. I had 50 minutes to get to the grocery store & shop before I had to be back to pick up Dominic.

I got to the grocery store and opened my purse to retrieve my never-ending list. Couldn't find the itouch. Dumped the purse. Nada. Went back to the car. No itouch. Drove back to the high school where the meeting took place. The itouch is not in the media center, the ladies' room, the hallways... no where. No one has turned one in. My itouch is gone.

I picked up Dominic, came home, and asked Daniel to come talk to me. I knew he would understand! I told him how upset I was. He hugged me and said, now you know how I felt when I came home from school that day... and yes I KNEW how he felt; I've lost important things before. But I was mad at myself; why didn't I put the damned thing in my pocket? Why did I lose it? Did it fall out? But I zipped the bag!!! He said, "Mom. It was probably stolen." And I said, "NO! I was in a parent meeting for God's sake!" Daniel just looked at me & shrugged.

I was really hooked on that itouch. My family gave it to me for Mother's Day. I used that cute little electronic device all the time. It organized me, helped me exercise, and was portable entertainment. I'm about to go do some yoga, to try to release this spasm that I'm working myself into. The itouch is just a THING, after all, a lovely electronic device but a thing, none the less. I don't need it. What I need is the love and comfort of my family. I have that. My kids gave me hugs. My sister in law (my wife! :-) ) gave me mental therapy. My husband gave me his sweet words and verbal hugs (see you in less than a week, babe!) My faith in human nature remains.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

GF Apple Muffins, GF Brownie bites!

I want to pass along a couple of recipes that I've made in the past week. The first one is for apple muffins. I had an excess of apples last weekend, and children asking for muffins, so we got out the grater and got to work.

When you are doing gluten free baking, you have to mix different flours together to create something that works like wheat flour. There are lots of recipes out there that call for a mixture of rice, tapioca, and potato flour, or something of the sort, plus some xanthan gum to hold everything together once it is baked. Any gluten free cookbook will give you a couple of different flour mixes, and you can pull some together for a recipe, or mix a big batch and keep it fresh in the freezer for when you need it. OR... you can go to the local health food store and pick up a bag of GF flour. Yes it is expensive. SO much more expensive than regular flour. But I always keep a bag or two handy, just in case I run out of the other stuff. Or if I have to travel. I use Pamela's flour mix, which I buy from Amazon.com. It's much cheaper there. I like it, but I find it can make my baked goods a bit heavy.

I also have a bag of Jules brand "Nearly Normal" flour mix. I also like that, but I find that it can make my baked goods kind of dry. My favorite thing to do, when I'm in a hurry, is to mix the two together. Probably 10 different kinds of flour in there, but what the heck, it tastes good!

So, back to the muffins. Here's what I did:

1 1/4 cup Pamela's flour mix
1/4 cup Jules Nearly Normal flour mix
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large apple, grated. I used Jonagold one time and Fuji the other.

Preheat oven to 350. Stir together the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the mixed dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Stir in the vanilla and the grated apple. Scoop into greased muffin tins, and bake for 18-20 minutes. Take them out and eat them up! They are approx. 20 carbs each.

I found a new recipe for GF brownies in a book by Robert Landolphi, called "Gluten Free Every Day." I found the book while cruising around Amazon, and it had some fun recipes listed that I wanted to try, like Parmesan Popover Bites, Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Tropical Mint Salsa, and more. But... we were out of GF desserts, so brownies came first.

The recipe called for an 8 x 11 pan. I don't have an 8 x 11 pan. I have an 8 x 8, and a 9 x 13, neither of which would work very well. So I had the bright idea to use my mini muffin pan instead, and make "brownie bites," and just keep an eye on the cooking time. HA. Well, they really looked great. But the darned things stuck. Yes, I did grease the pans! But 95% of them stuck to the bottom of the muffin tin, so I ended up taking the tops off, taking a knife around the edge of the rest of the brownie, and then gently reuniting top & bottom with a prayer that they'd stay together. It's a damned good thing they were delicious, after all of that. Next time I try to do brownie bites I'll either put the little papers in, or put less brownie in the tins so they don't pop up like muffin tops.

The cookbook calls for "Authentic Foods Multiblend Gluten Free Flour." I've never seen that particular brand around my stores. So I did my Pamela's/Jules mix again. Here's what I did:

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8 x 11 inch pan.

3/4 cups butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Pamela's flour mix
1/2 cup Jules flour mix

This is so easy -- it's all done in one bowl. Put the chocolate and butter in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon, then microwave for 1 minute more. Wait... that's what the book says. My butter was frozen, and I did 2 minutes the 1st time, stirred, then only 40 seconds the 2nd time because everything was almost melted. That's all I needed.

Stir until chocolate is melted & smooth. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour until blended. His recipe calls for optional walnuts which you can add at this point (1 cup), but I'm allergic to walnuts so I left them out.

Pour into prepared pan (or try your luck with mini muffin tins!!!). Bake for 40 to 45 minutes (I only did 18 minutes with the muffin tins) or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan. Cut into bars.

The brownies in the muffin tins ended up being 14 carbs each. That's another reason I like doing the muffin tins -- easy to count carbs that way.

Today has been pretty busy... lots of house chores and lots of cooking. What else is new? I'm going to finish my wine and prepare for tomorrow morning. More apple muffins are on the agenda.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Insulin Pump

I saw the news on Diabetes Daily about the new insulin pump coming on the market next year from a company called Medingo. The pump is the Solo, and it is a tubing-free, tiny pump. You can detach from it when you need to. The web site is here.

If you live in the US, the company offers you the option of ordering a free demo kit. I put my order in today, and will let you know how responsive the company is and what we think of the demo.

It looks nice! But we've been fooled by products that look nice before (Pelikan Sun). So I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I thought I would have more time!

I thought I would have more time to write this summer. I thought I would drop in with a blog post here and there about our travels & adventures. But summer is a greedy monster and it is sucking time away from writing, which makes me sad.

We took a trip in the 2nd half of July across the country, so we had our first experience dealing with major travel & diabetes/celiac. Some great stories, some not so great. I want to write about them, but not all at once. Here are some quick impressions:

1. If you have to fly, and you have celiac, PACK FOOD. There is nothing for you at the airport. There is next to nothing for you on the plane. There's next to nothing for you on the plane even if you don't have celiac! Plan ahead, carry food.

2. The security personnel at the airports seemed to be quite knowledgeable about diabetes stuff and didn't give us any problems. Yay.

3. Stores at Yosemite park have lots of good food. It makes the natural splendor of Yosemite even more enjoyable.

4. It is helpful, if possible, to check local blogs/websites if you are looking for a place to eat that is celiac friendly. We stayed in places where we could do our own cooking, but there were a number of times we had to eat out. Thank goodness for all the bloggers out there!

5. Legoland says on its web site that it has gluten free hamburger buns. But when we got there, they were out of them. :(

Just some quick thoughts. More later, because the dryer just buzzed and I must get back on the laundry treadmill.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gougeres, or Gluten Free Buns

I went to my friend Leah's house for lunch yesterday, and she served gougeres, which are cheese puffs made with Pate a Choux dough. Pate a Choux is what you use to make cream puffs. The little puffs were delicious, and I thought they reminded me, in texture, of the gluten free buns made by Against the Grain. Leah gave me the recipe so I could try them with gluten free flour. They turned out delicious! But they were small (Daniel made tiny sandwiches out of them).

I made them a second time today, much larger than the first time, to see how they would compare to the Against the Grain buns. They have a different consistency, and though they were really puffed to start with, they flattened as they cooled. I'll have to figure out how to stop that from happening. They taste good, though!

Here's what I did:

1 cup water
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, sifted (I used the "Jules" brand GF flour mix)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated cheese
freshly ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In small saucepan over high heat, bring the water, salt, sugar, and butter to a boil, making sure the butter is completely melted. Off the heat, add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Return to the heat and continue beating until the dough forms a solid, smooth mass and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan. Take off the heat and empty the dough into a clean mixing bowl. Little by little add the beaten eggs (I used a mixer), beating vigorously in between each addition, until the dough forms a smooth, supple mass. Mix in 1 cup grated cheese (the recipe calls for gruyere, but I didn't have that so I used a mix of mozzarella and asiago) and freshly ground black pepper.

The original recipe has you putting the dough into a pastry bag and piping it onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I didn't have a pastry bag, so I just spooned the dough onto the parchment paper in large rounds and baked for 25 minutes. It made 6 rolls, at 21 carbs each.

The flavor was very good, but here are some changes I'd like to try:

Baking it for a bit longer.
Adding flax seed, or something else for fiber.
Actually using gruyere, which is so yummy.
Using a food processor instead of a mixer to see what that does to the consistency.

If you try this recipe and something works for you, let me know!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quinoa Salad


It all started when I came back from vacation and looked at my garden. The weeds were trying to take over, especially the terrible morning glory-ish vines that try to strangle everything. Rising triumphantly over the weeds, however, were my basil and parsley plants, which flourished in my absence. Maybe I should go away some more? In addition, Matt had gone to the farmer's market and picked up some luscious, weighty, ripe tomatoes. As lunchtime approached, I thought about quinoa salad.

Quinoa is a fabulous grain, and great for people with celiac because it is gluten free and for diabetics because the protein in the grain keeps it from spiking your blood sugar. Quinoa is a complete protein with lots of fiber. It is okay on its own, but I like to dress it up a little. Here's what I did:

1 cup red quinoa (I found this at my local health food store).
1 1/4 cup water
1 large, weighty, luscious, ripe tomato, diced
1/2 raw zucchini, diced
1/4 cup craisins
1 loose cup parsley
1/2 loose cup basil
juice of 1/2 juicy lemon
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup crumbed feta cheese

Boil the water in a medium sized pot. Pour in the quinoa and cover; simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, wait 5 minutes, then fluff & cool quinoa.

Put diced tomatoes, zucchini, and the craisins in a bowl. Finely chop the basil & parsley and put it into the tomato mizture. Toss in the cooled quinoa, and then toss in the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, and salt. Top with the feta cheese and serve.

This is a delicious power lunch, perfect for hot days!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches


One thing Daniel really missed since going gluten free was ice cream sandwiches. There are plenty of gluten free foods available, but no one has put these on the market yet. So here we are, summer time again, and I thought I'd research making these guys from scratch. I found a recipe on Gluten Free Gobsmacked that looked so easy, and I gave it a try today. I also took her advice and bought some ice cream sandwich makers from Amazon.com. I got standard rectangular ones, and fun shaped ones as well.

The recipe is simple:

Cookie ingredients:
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powdered (or dark chocolate cocoa powder)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (rice or bean based)
OR – in place of the GF flour mix use:
1/2 cup rice flour + 1/4 cup tapioca starch

I used the "Nearly Normal" brand of flour mix because that's what I had on hand, and it turned out fine. Nearly Normal has xanthan gum in it. I hoped that would be okay, because the recipe doesn't call for it, but it was no problem.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment or spritz with oil.
  3. Whisk melted butter and cocoa powder together until smooth.
  4. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
  5. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat again until smooth.
  6. Add gf flour (or flour/starch) and beat together for 2 minutes. Mixture will be like thick brownie dough but should not have any lumps.
  7. Using a spatula dipped in water, spread the cookie batter into a large rectangle (about 12″ by 10″ or larger). If the dough sticks to the spatula, dip the spatula into cool water and continue spreading. Try *not* to get the dough “wet” or have standing water on top. The original recipe says to spread it to a 1/2 inch thickness. Mine wasn't that thick, but it was thicker than normal ice cream sandwich cookies. I might try to do it a bit thinner next time on a larger cookie sheet.
  8. Bake the cookie at 350F for 15 – 18 minutes or until firm/set but not crusty on top. (It will harden as it cools.)
Now you have to either cut the cookie into smaller cookies, or follow the directions on the ice cream sandwich maker. You just stamp the cookies out with the ice cream sandwich maker, and wait until they are cool. Then put one cookie in the bottom of the form, fill with your favorite gluten free ice cream, put another cookie on top, and press.

I bought ice cream that was already in a rectangular shape to help with this process, but really, any kind will do if it is softened a little. Then the hard part is waiting for it to freeze up again nicely before eating! We didn't do that tonight. We just dove right in, so the ice cream was squishy. The kids had vanilla ice cream in theirs. I took the scraps that were left over and made a small ice cream sandwich with mint chocolate chip. YUM!

Based on the recipe plus 1/2 cup ice cream, The rectangular ice cream sandwich had 66 carbs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blueberry time!


Blueberries were on sale this week, and in our house that is cause for joy! We all love blueberries -- straight off the bush, tossed into salads, stirred into yogurt, or baked into many wonderful treats. I decided to make a blueberry pie for Father's Day.

I've made gluten free pies before, but haven't really had much success with the crusts. They were okay, but not great. I found the dough very difficult to work with, and the crusts have come out heavy and hard. They broke too easily. But, what the heck, try try again.

I looked at a few recipes and decided to make a couple of changes. This time, the crust was fantastic. Here's what I did:

I whisked together in a bowl:
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp. baking powder

Then I used a pastry cutter to cut in 1/2 cup butter and 1/3 cup shortening until the mixture was crumbly.

Then I whisked together 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. I dumped this into the flour mixture, and stirred it with my hands until it held together. It was a little bit sticky, so I added about a tablespoon of sweet rice flour, which I had on hand because I was going to use that when I rolled out the dough. I divided the dough into 2 pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and refrigerated them for a couple of hours.

For the pie filling, I mixed 3 pints of blueberries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and stirred it all around.

To roll out the pie crust, I sprinkled a piece of parchment paper with some sweet rice flour, put the dough on the parchment paper, sprinkled some more rice flour, and covered it with another piece of parchment paper. I rolled the dough between the parchment papers until it was a little larger than the pie plate. Then I peeled off the top layer and flipped the dough onto the pie plate. It rolled out and held together beautifully, which had never happened before when I made a GF pie crust. So I had hope!

I filled the crust with the blueberry filling, and dotted it with about 2 T of butter. Then I rolled out the second crust in the same way as the first. But instead of rolling it flat and putting the whole thing on top, I cut stars out with a cookie cutter. I made an egg wash with a beaten egg and a Tbsp. of milk, and brushed the edge of the pie crust with it. The I started layering stars on top, brushing with the egg wash so they would stick together.

It went into the oven at 4oo degrees for 20 minutes, then I lowered the temperature to 350 and cooked it for another 30 minutes.

I had a little bit of extra dough, so my daughter and I made a couple of extra stars and I baked them in the toaster oven with a little cinnamon and sugar on top until they were toasty. They were a yummy treat!

The pie turned out great. My husband said that there was no way anyone could tell that this was a gluten free crust. It was tender and flaky, just right. The blueberries cooked up beautifully, and the pie wasn't runny at all. We served it with some vanilla ice cream on the side. It was a wonderful father's day treat!

I tried to work out the carbs per piece of pie, and thought that an eighth of the pie was about 70 carbs. It was hard to figure because I had to add flour to roll the dough, and I wasn't sure how much I had shaken on. But when Daniel tested his blood sugar just now, he was at 215, but there was no correction, so I think he's not going to go wacky high. Ice cream can also do funky things to his blood sugar, but he only had 1/2 cup.

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads out there. And I hope you get to enjoy blueberry season, too!


(NOTE: I made the pie again on 6/27, and this time took pictures of the dough making process. It really helps to have someone there to take pictures with you or your camera gets all smeary!!!)

I'm also posting this recipe on http://www.glutenfreehomemaker.com/!! Great site, and a wonderful place for sharing recipes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Non-sleep over

Daniel had a couple of friends over last night for an end of school, watch movies, play video games, eat pizza kind of sleepover. Luckily we have a basement *and* an upstairs so I can't hear them (unless they are REALLY loud, which has happened in the past) when they are talking trash at the video games and sneaking upstairs for cookies. One of Daniels' friends, during a past sleepover, ate an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the night... that didn't happen last night.

But at 3 a.m. or so my husband got out of bed and I heard him negotiating with the boys. Apparently the phone rang -- oops, I missed that -- so they were sternly told that enough was enough and GO TO SLEEP.

Phones ringing in the middle of the night always set me off thinking about emergencies. So as Matt settled quickly into dreamland (HOW DOES HE DO THAT???) after grumbling, "no more @*%*$ sleepovers!! -- I stayed awake and day?dreamed scenarios. Then I thought about the movie I saw with Dominic & Nora (Night at the Museum), the salad I had for dinner that I would like to make at home (insalata d'oro, which was a huge pile of diced golden yellow tomatoes with olive oil, basil, goat cheese, and pine nuts and two slices of a delicious, fresh Italian bread) and the list of things to do today, lists for the upcoming vacation..

Basically, I thought my way to 6:30, tossed and turned for 45 minutes, then gave up.

Good morning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Morning Quiet

Throughout the school year mornings are highly choreographed. I wake up at 5:20 and get ready for the day, then wake each child in time to get ready & get on the bus. 3 kids, 3 different schools, 3 different schedules. I have a rigid routine, and feel very much like a drill sergeant as I move the sleepyheads through the motions of breakfast and backpacks.

Ahhhh, summer.

I am still up before the kids - I have an internal alarm clock that won't quit. But it let me get past my initial 5 a.m. clock check the last few mornings to a glorious 6:30 or 7. Now I have my steaming coffee, a nice warm computer, and lists of things to take care of during the day.

I am almost over yesterday's frustration at the Motor Vehicle Administration. After waiting for an hour for our number to be called, we found that Daniel could not get his learner's permit right away because of his diabetes. We had to call the Driver Wellness and Safety Division (DWSD) and give them our info, and wait for them to send us some forms. These forms need to be filled out by us and Daniel's doctor, then sent back to the DWSD. Then we wait for their approval before he can get his permit.

Of course, Daniel is already in driver's ed. But now he can't go on the road with them to complete the course. My fault, I know, because I should have found all this out before I signed him up for the course. Although, I knew this was going to happen. But in my research, and from what people have said, I understood that we would have to go through this rigmarole when getting the actual license, not the learner's permit.

Today when I drop Daniel off at Driver's ed, I'm going to see if he can defer the 2nd week of the class until we get all our paperwork completed. What a pain.

Yuck, I'm getting stressed just writing about it. Moving on!

I've been making lists for our upcoming travels. The trip to our in-laws is a snap; we've got a routine for traveling with diabetes & gluten free on car trips. But later this summer we'll do our first air travel with these conditions. From everything I've read, it's very difficult to find GF foods in airports (anyone interested in starting a new business? There's definitely a need!). I will pack power bars, peanut butter, crackers, and other easy to carry snacks. Instead of staying at a hotel, we're staying in a rental house so I can cook GF meals. We'll stop at a whole foods on the way to the rental to stock up. Cooking at home away from home is a great way to save money while traveling. Although I'm sure we will find some places that are safe to eat, I'd rather not blow the budget on food.

Time to eat some breakfast and start the day!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gaming Risks

Daniel is off with friends to the Pokemon Video Game Regional Championships today. Up at the crack of dawn to drive a couple of hours to register for the gaming, and hope to be selected at random to play. Daniel's friend E. asked him to go, E's mom was driving, so it was set. He left a few minutes ago. The sun is now up, and the early dog walkers are making their way down the street. I have my first cup of coffee after a cough-y night of little sleep, and am listening to the birds twittering their morning greetings.

I'm always a little nervous about letting Daniel go on overnights, or on longer trips, because we've had trips to the emergency room because of diabetes/celiac complications when he's been far from home or at a sleepover. So I get jumpy. But I read a wonderful article on Health Central by Dr. Fran Cogen about preparing your diabetic teen for college. She talks about using the time while your teen is home to GO on those sleepovers, GO on those little trips. Take the smaller risks while still relatively close to home, while mom and dad are still nearby. These small, independent steps will help your child build confidence and experience to handle difficult health situations when he is on his own. With Dr. Cogen's article in mind, I gave Daniel my blessing to go.

I know when the starting time of the competition is, but have no idea when these boys will be headed home. We packed a rather large lunch box, because traveling gluten-free is always chancy at best, especially when the most likely food stops will be fast food establishments. Daniel made a large sub sandwich with an Against the Grain baguette. These are a staple in our house, for both sandwiches and "french bread pizzas." Daniel loves these guys sliced in half lengthwise, slathered in tomato sauce, and topped with mozzarella and pepperoni slices! But for this trip he made an Italian sub. We sliced the sub into 3 pieces, and sliced tomatoes and put them in a container so that he could layer them into his sandwich later (to avoid super soggy sub syndrome). He also packed Glutino vegetable crackers, which are one of his new favorite snack foods. I made chocolate chip cookies the other night from the recipe on the Pamela's Flour Mix bag, and there were a few left to put into the lunch bag. There was just enough room for a couple of cans of diet coke, some Sunbutter crunch bars, and a giant banana. That should hold my hungry teenager through mid afternoon!

It's a pain to have to carry all your food around all the time, especially when you are a kid. Celiac kids can't just stop for pizza or a burger with their friends. Some restaurant people GET IT when we explain about celiac, and requiring separate prep areas, etc. etc. Some restaurant people are clueless. In their cluelessness they smile and say they can try to accommodate us, but we have learned not to trust these places. Daniel has been accidentally glutened before, and he goes through too much misery to make these risks worth it.

I was happy to see an endeavor by the Celiac Chicks to create a gluten-free map of the world. Here celiac people everywhere can sign in and add their favorite gluten-free restaurant/store locations to the map, and can benefit from the knowledge of others. The map is here. I've added Lilit Cafe in Bethesda, and will add more places like Roots Market, and My Organic Market, where I frequently shop for gluten free foods. I love the idea of the map. I can access it from my iTouch, it's free, and it is growing all the time. Please add to it if you know of some great gluten-free places.

It's still early; no one else in the house is awake, so I'm going to go add to the map. The sun is shining and it looks like it is going to be a beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RRRRIIIIppppppp... OUCH!

Pump tubing and kitchen cabinet handles. Need I say more?

Daniel often walks around with his pump tubing dangling out of his pockets. Parents yell, "TUBING!" Daniel rolls eyes. Halfheartedly stuffs the tubing back in his pocket. A couple of times at school kids have tried yanking it, thinking the tubing is iPod headphones. More often, however, the kitchen cabinet handles grab it and pull HARD.

Daniel thinks we should replace the cabinet handles, or just get rid of them. I told him I was going to get him one of those pump bands that go around the belly so he can zip the tubing into that (again, I get the teenage eye-roll). Actually, what I'm going to do is order shorter tubing so that when he has the pump attached to his stomach or hips, he won't have so much dangling out.

I wish there was a way to adjust it! Like if the pumps had a cleat on the side to wrap the extra cord around...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sounds of Silence

I'm home for the 2nd day with a sick child. Dominic has had a fever and upset stomach, and hasn't eaten in 2 days, except for 1 1/4 banana. Oh, and a few sips of ginger ale and glasses of water. He's exhausted. It crossed my mind that I should test his blood sugar, but he's not going to the bathroom all the time or thirsty ALL the time. But he is thirsty. But tummy bugs can dehydrate you. And he did just catch this bug from me, and I was exhausted & thirsty, too. I will try to quiet the worry monkey part of my brain. Listen to the silence of this house as he is napping, enjoy the moments of calm that have been few and far between.

I'm amazed that I've made it through the first year of teaching. It was both more difficult and more delightful than I expected. I am so happy to have the support of a wonderful team of educators & mentors. I also think that with this first year behind me, I'll have a supply of strategies in my pocket that I can turn to in coming years, when I'm looking for help. That supply will continue to grow as my experience grows.

Daniel has an endo visit this week, and I'm hoping his A1c will be better than the last time. His numbers have been pretty good, actually, with the exception of a spike last week when he caught this bug that's going through our family. I also want to talk to the endo about pump breaks, because we will be going to the beach a few times and we have to figure out how to deal with that. I don't think going to the pool will be a problem. Daniel can unhook from the pump for a while, swim, and check back every so often. I've read up on that enough that I think we can work that out. But it doesn't seem to be a good idea to be connected to the pump if we know we're going to spend a whole day at the beach, where he tends to be in the water for long periods of time... or digging around in the sand.

We also have to make sure we're up to speed about changing time zones, as we'll be travelling this summer. Lots to plan for, but all very exciting and fun.

The warm summer-like day is calling, but I can't leave the house. While Dominic was awake, I watered the garden, and took our potato experiments out of their small pots and put them into the ground. I don't know if we'll actually get potatoes, or if the squirrels/deer/bunnies will get to them first, but it's fun to try. The potatoes, one tomato plant, a couple of basil, parsley, thyme, chocolate mint, and rosemary - that's the extent of my summer garden. As it is, I could spend all my time weeding, and I don't want to do that.

Life's too short to weed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ravioli -- again!


So much to write about and so little time. When the school year is over, I plan to WRITE MORE!

Daniel and I had a go at making ravioli again. Thanks so much to my friend Leah who loaned me her pasta cranker -- brand spanking new -- with no gluten flour inside! I used it to roll out the ravioli noodles. Well... Daniel used it. He wouldn't let me touch it. "Mom, I'm good with machines!!" Well, I would be too, if you would let me have a turn!

Anyway, the ravioli was delicious, and so much easier than the last time when I hand-rolled it. It was tricky at first. When we first put the dough through the rollers, it came out looking almost shredded. But we patiently mashed it back together and put it back through, and after a few times it held together. Daniel would fold it and put it back in, repeat, repeat repeat, until finally it made a nice big flat noodle.

I was in charge of putting the noodle in the ravioli press and filling it. That was a little tricky too, with the GF flour. I had to be careful not to press too hard with the ravioli form or the dough would break. But I found that even if it cracked, I would seal up the crack with a little egg white before I cooked it, and the filling stayed inside. It was such fun! I'm going to get one of those cool machines!!


The ravioli ended up being about 5.5 carbs each, by the way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Diaversary

Today is Daniel's 2 year diaversary. Last year we lit a candle and said a prayer, and I will do something similar today, probably on my own. Daniel doesn't really note this anniversary, and that's fine. However, I can't let the day go by without doing something.

I hugged him this morning as he was getting ready for school, and said, "Happy (ha ha) diaversary," and he said, "Oh, is it? What day is it?" So I reminded him. And then I congratulated him on managing very well for two years with diabetes.

"Two years? No, just one!" he said. Then he remembered he was 14 when he was diagnosed. "Oh yeah, two years. Wow. Okay, bye!"

And that was it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mochi

At our local health food store, Roots, there was a sale item in the gluten free section called "Mochi." It didn't look too appetizing, but sounded intriguing, AND it was on sale, so I picked up a package. It was in the refrigerated section, and was a small, flat brick of brown, solid, pounded, glutenous rice sealed in plastic. (Not the kind of gluten that hurts celiac people!) This particular mochi had raisins & cinnamon mashed into it, which probably accounted for the coloring. The instructions were pretty easy -- cut into 1 to 2 inch squares, bake at 450 for 8 - 10 minutes, until puffed. Then there were serving suggestions inside.

I cooked up a few mochi, and followed the serving suggestion. It said to cut into the mochi square, insert a dollop of cream cheese, and then top with a little agave nectar. I served one to Daniel and his eyes almost rolled back in his head from delight. WOW! Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. It tasted just like a bite of cinnamon-raisin bagel.

I've gone on a youtube hunt ever since for mochi-making instructions. So many varieties. We're on to something fun!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thinking of Cake

We're celebrating my parents' 50th anniversary soon, and I'm thinking of cake. Gluten free cake. I'm trying to decide what direction to go. GF cheesecake is easy, but not everyone likes cheesecake. A pavlova would be lovely and light, but I've never made one before. While I was surfing around today, I found a wedding cake & food guide pdf on the Pamela's Products page that gives tips on how to make GF wedding cakes. Hmmm. I don't want a four-tiered wonder, but some of the tips look helpful, like sprinkling simple syrup on the layers to keep them moist, and using "magic strips" to stop the layers from doming while baking. I may have to give that a try.

Okay, I have to help Daniel with a site change now, so I guess I'll put this blog post off until later. It seems that every time I sit down to write, a child starts a major conversation with me. What is it with their timing? Daniel is still talking to me as I type! It's amazing! Now he says I'm mean... Bye...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Busy Busy Plans Plans Plans

I made a plan for yesterday, and it was quite ambitious, but it was the first Saturday in forever that there was nothing on the calendar. I went over the plan with the kids -- cleaning rooms, laundry, hair cuts, shopping for shorts, doing that nagging yard work in front of the house...

2 hair cuts. Shorts for 3 kids. Underwear for 2 kids. 2 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of sandals. Bakugan purchase to celebrate excellent school week. Ice cream to celebrate straight As. Venti shaken lemonade iced green tea (barely sweetened) for mom, because Mother Nature turned on the heat and it is suddenly 85 degrees. 2 rooms vacuumed. Small amount of yard work done because I ran out of lawn bags. 3 loads of laundry completed (only because the venti iced tea was absorbed too late in the day and I couldn't sleep). Lawn bags purchased at Home Depot, but they didn't have any phlox. 1 child delivered to playdate. 2 kids got 2 burgers, 1 fries, many peanuts at 5 Guys. Mom ate the peanuts.

I wanted to do some cooking/baking, but time ran out. I borrowed a pasta machine from a friend -- one that fits into my Kitchenaid mixer -- so I could use it to once again make the GF ravioli (after I told her about my difficult hand-rolling experience). It was very kind of her to let me borrow it because she never even used it yet! Perfect for me, as that means there is no gluten in the machine for me to worry about. But it has been sitting on my counter for 3 weeks and I haven't had a chance to give it a try. Typical!

Today I will involve the children in housework and cage cleaning as much as humanly possible, grade papers, hunt for phlox, and shop & cook for the week. Mow the lawn? Make more ravioli? Bake GF bread? I'm pushing it. Plan for the week, when I will be counting down the days until Friday again, when my husband comes back from his trip and I can perhaps get a moment of quiet...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sleep is SOOOO Overrated!

If only I didn't have to sleep. There's so much to explore! So I just joined Twittermoms, and now I wonder if I have the time to actually tweet.

I love the tech words that are now in common usage... I can tweet, blog, twitter, youtube, and add to my delicious. With a dongle, wiimotes, and a light pen, I can turn any surface into a smartboard. I don't need a dongle to iphone an update to my facebook.

Just a small sampling... cracks me up.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ouch.

After I got the dinner on the table, I started cooking again so Daniel could have empanadas for this week's school lunches. I also popped some GF brownies in the oven because I was out of desserts other than a few chocolate candies and the last of a bag of some verrrrrry crunchy Midel ginger snaps.

Rolling dough, remembering the laundry left in the dryer from yesterday, catering to children's requests, general juggling. I said to Daniel, "what did I used to do with my free time? I can't remember."

And he hit back with, "Two years mom. Then I'm going to college. I'll be out of here and you'll have less to do."

Ouch. That was below the belt.

I suggested that he might consider going to University of Maryland and commuting from home. Good GF food here, and his local endocrinologist to boot. But he said, NO WAY, I'm GOING. Echoes of me at that age.

What will I do with my spare time? Miss him terribly. And work on creating delicious gluten-free care packages.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where's the Gluten? or A Touch of Serendipity

I was supposed to go on a field trip today with the lower school. We were headed to a bilingual theater performance in Washington, DC. After we returned, I was going to broadcast the dvd of my 4th graders' news program, which they had been working on over the past couple of weeks. I burned the dvd yesterday right before I left school. This morning, before going on the field trip, I tested out the dvd, and it had a problem. The sound wasn't tracking with the movements. So I had to re-save it from windows movie maker in a different format, and reburn the dvd. All of which was going to take more time than the 20 minutes I had before the busses left on the field trip.

My boss said it was okay, there were enough teachers on the trip, just go ahead and work on the broadcast. So I got the problem fixed, and had just finished burning the last of the dvds to give to the kids when my cell phone rang.

It was Daniel's school nurse, calling to let me know that he had just lost his lunch and had terrible stomach pains.

If I had gone on the field trip, I wouldn't have been able to rush out of school to go get Daniel. I would have been stuck downtown, waiting for the school bus to take me back. Frustrated as I was with the dvd this morning, I was so happy that it kept me close to my car!

Daniel thought he was glutened somehow, because he threw up right after eating lunch. But everything in his lunch was packed by me, and it was leftovers of stuff that he had before. Baked beans and rice. Gluten free corn chips. A kiwi. A choco-loco bar (GF). He said he started feeling really sick when he was eating the kiwi, and that he didn't want kiwis in his lunch anymore.

I wondered if he was suddenly allergic to kiwi. Or if there was gluten on the table, and it got on his hands, and in his mouth when he ate the kiwi. He said that he and his friends were throwing around some Easter candy. Sometimes candy has gluten on it to keep it from sticking. Maybe that was the case. Anyway, we can't figure out where the gluten came from, if it was gluten. It could have been a stomach bug. After going low, having sugar, rebounding high, and taking pepto bismol, he's on the mend now.

He can make up that major test that he missed tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Emotional Monday

I really ought to go get my hormone levels checked or something. It doesn't take much to get me weepy on a Monday morning! I read a story that popped up on my Comcast news page about how diabetics (and of course it didn't differentiate between type 1 and type 2) are cutting back on medicine to survive loss of or cutbacks on health insurance because of this economy. Those who are insulin dependent are switching to less expensive kinds of insulin that don't give as tight control as the more expensive brands. One woman went into DKA because, the article said, "she stopped taking most of her drugs and cut her insulin doses in half to stretch her budget."

I got very emotional, sitting here at my computer on a Monday morning, preparing for my classes, preparing to greet the kids with a smile. Deep breath time.

I guess Daniel must be using one of the cheaper insulins. Is Novolog one of the cheaper ones? When I went to pick up his prescription on Friday, I took out my wallet, ready to pay $35 as I have done since switching to this insurance, and the pharmacist said there was no charge. Something switched this month.

Shouldn't I have been informed that something changed? I'll have to check through my emails, and junk emails, to see if there was a notice.

Anyhow, I hope that this country makes strong progress towards a better health care system. It is past time, and people are dying every day because they can't get the care that they need. I know I'm focusing on diabetes, but of course there are so many other chronic conditions, so many patients in desperate need.

*sigh* Monday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's exhausting.

It's exhausting trying to make myself understood to teenagers. Or preteens. Or youngsters. Or anybody. Sometimes I think I'm speaking an alien language, and the people to whom I'm speaking are smiling and nodding just to humor me until I go away.

I don't even feel like going into the details. Suffice it to say that I thought I made myself clear, and Daniel thought I did not. Until I blew up, at which point I was, of course, overreacting. Because I initially did not make a clear request, so how could there be follow through?

Oh, yeah, and just ignore all those low insulin warnings and let the pump start sucking air, while you're at it.

ack. Calgon, take me away.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lost

Yesterday we had friends over for dinner, wonderful old friends whom we haven't seen in a while, so that was lovely. However, a few minutes before I was going to sit everyone down, I got a phone call from the kids' dentist. We had been there earlier that afternoon. They said, "I believe I have a bag that belongs to you... it has glucose tablets and a small machine..."

"Yes! I need that! That's my son's diabetes kit. How late are you open?"

The lady told me that she would stay in the office until I got there. I looked at my old friends and told them that I had to leave them to go pick up Daniel's kit. They were wonderful, didn't mind staying with the kids, and even finished the prep for dinner.

I was pissed off, of course, because I had to leave my own dinner party. And worried that some day Daniel is going to leave his kit in a place where he can't get it back. We have extra glucometers, but they are not the ones that "talk" to his pump. Everything is replaceable, I suppose. It's just that various scenarios run through my mind -- usually going something like 'he leaves his bag somewhere on a field trip, and on the way home he goes low and needs glucose tabs.' Danger danger emergency emergency.

Has this happened to you? Have you lost your diabetes stuff and found yourself in a sticky situation? Have you had trouble replacing what you've lost? Do you only carry your diabetes stuff in your kit, or do you stuff it with other things, as my son does?

I suppose it is easier for women, because we are used to carrying things around in a purse. But what do all the guys do?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Growing Pains


It was one of those days. First day back at work after spring break, so I started off tired. After work I had to pick up Daniel, drop him off at home so he could do his job and his homework, run to pick up my glasses because I got the call that they were ready, but got interrupted en route by a call from Nora who was ready to be picked up from school earlier than scheduled because rehearsals were over. So I told her to be ready with all her stuff outside the school so I wouldn't have to go in and find her.

She jumps in the car and we go to get my glasses, stopping off at Game Stop so I can replace a game of Daniel's that I broke last week. Get the glasses, swing by weight watchers to weigh in (the same for the past 2 weeks, argh!) and then pick up some roasted chicken because there is no time to make dinner tonight.

Nora put the chicken on the floor of the car and as I turned to back out of the parking space to head out and pick up Dominic from his after school care, something catches my eye. A lovely scarf, which is on a beautiful black leather jacket. That I don't recognize.

"Who does that jacket belong to?" I asked Nora, thinking, rather ridiculously, Who would put a jacket in my car?

"Uhhh, did I pick up the wrong..." Nora says. And then a phone rings. It's not my phone. It's coming from the jacket.

I find the phone, a nice touch-screen blackberry, and the caller ID says that a friend of mine is calling. I try to figure out how to answer the damned phone, and finally get it. Turns out it belongs to another friend (the mom of one of Nora's friend) who is frantically looking for her jacket and phone.

We arrange to have her pick it up after she does her car pool run. I turn to Nora and say, "How could you mistake this jacket for yours?" She does not have a leather jacket. "I don't know. I was tired!"

She's leaving her stuff all over the house. The ice cream on the counter. Her sweaters on the floor. A hammer on the driveway. Despite the straight A's, her brain is sometimes turned off.

I guess she's becoming a teenager!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool!

At breakfast Nora said, "Oh no! I just remembered that I have a five-paragraph essay due today in English class!!!"

Dominic stayed sound asleep, even after I whispered, "Panera breakfast?"

Daniel lost his brand new expensive glasses and his flash drive with all his code for his game development class.

Which one is NOT the April Fools joke?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gluten Free Ravioli

Last night I made gluten free ravioli from scratch. After seeing the price for frozen GF ravioli in the store, I thought I would try to do my own.

I used a recipe from the book, "Wheat-Free Recipes & Menus" by Carol Fenster, Ph.D. The pasta recipe calls for 2 eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1 T canola oil, 1/2 cup each of brown rice or sorghum flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, 1/4 cup potato starch, 4 tsp. xanthan gum, 1 tsp. gelatin powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt. You put the liquid in the the food processor, mix together, add the rest, process until it becomes a ball, break it up and process it again.

I bought a ravioli frame in the hopes that the gluten free pasta flour would hold together well enough for it to work. I have to say, the hardest part about this whole thing was rolling out the dough thinly. Not because, as with other gluten free doughs, it would crumble apart, but because there's so much xanthan gum in this recipe that the dough is very tough and doesn't want to stretch out! I will have to experiment with the amount of xanthan gum, and also the different kinds of flours. I'd like to try corn flour, maybe instead of the potato startch. I like some of the commercially available GF pasta that is made with corn flour.

Once you roll out the dough, you put it over the ravioli frame. There's a plastic piece that you press into the dough to indent it down into the circles. Then you fill the circles with your filling. I used ricotta, mozarella, and romano cheeses, with an egg yolk and italian spices mixed in. You mix an egg white with water and paint the edges of your ravioli, so that when you put the top layer on it will stick.



Then you roll out a second sheet to put on top
of the first. Press around the frames to seal, and
then use your rolling pin to cut the raviolis out.

















It didn't say to do so in the recipe, but I let the raviolis sit and dry a bit on the counter. I know you do that with regular pasta, and I wanted to make sure the egg white seal got nice and dry before I popped these guys into water.

After they dried for about an hour, I decided to freeze some of them for later. I put them on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and popped them in the freezer until they were hard, then I transferred them to a zip loc bag.

I decided to use a shallow saucepan to boil the remaining ravioli. I wanted to get them to a gentle simmer, in the hopes that they wouldn't break apart. As with most gluten free doughs, I saw a few cracks as they were being pushed into shape. I wiped a bit of egg white liquid on the cracks.

The pasta recipe says to simmer for 5 minutes, but since these guys had some filling in them, and they are pretty large, I let them go for 8.

I didn't tell Daniel ahead of time that I was going to do this, just in case they fell apart & were a total failure. I cooked non gf ravioli for the other kids, and put everything out on the plates. When Daniel saw his plate, his eyes widened. "Are these really for me?" he asked. He started wolfing them down before testing his blood sugar! I made him stop and test.

"I didn't even realize how much I missed ravioli," he said. He ate 12 of these guys. I estimated that they were 8 carbs per ravioli. He absolutely loved them, and I'm so glad.

What would I do differently? First of all, I think I'm going to scour ebay for a hand crank pasta machine. I took a bite of the ravioli and think that it would benefit from dough that is rolled a bit thinner. But I couldn't get it any thinner by hand, it was just too hard to roll. Using a pasta machine would help.

Also, after the dough is processed and in a ball, I would break it into 6 or 7 pieces, wrap them, and put them aside. The dough that remained in the processor while the rest was being rolled dried out very quickly. I had to re-process with a bit of liquid to get it rollable again.

As I said before, I'll also experiment with different flour combinations. And different fillings! But on the whole, I was very pleased with this cooking experiment, and am glad that I don't have to spend the $8.00 on the very small bag of frozen ravioli!