A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Beginnings of Gluten Free Fun

All good comic books spend their first few episodes dedicated to detailing how the superhero (and sometimes his arch nemesis) came to be. Spaceship from another planet, radioactive spider, nuclear disaster, scientific experiment gone horribly wrong, or the ever popular gamma rays. Each cause had its inevitable effect and the result guided the direction of the comic book through the years. Well you're about to hear of the beginnings of Super Gluten Free Gal and her faithful sidekick Soggy Rice Pasta Boy.

Mealtimes and cooking have always been a source of enjoyment, relaxation, experimentation, and just plain fun for me for many years, having worked in the food and beverage industry throughout high school and then in the De La Guerra Dining Commons at UC Santa Barbara all throughout college. My girlfriend has also enjoyed those same pursuits having been a vegetarian since her college days, almost eleven years, and together we are quite the team in the kitchen. I tend to take the reins when it comes to tasks involving knives or taking things out of the oven, because though I love her dearly, she is incredibly clumsy in the kitchen.

When we first started dating, I'd go over to her little one bedroom apartment and chat with her while she prepared dinner. Her kitchen was so small that two people literally couldn't occupy it simultaneously, let alone both work in there. So I'd sit at her kitchen table and we'd talk while she would prepare dinner. Inexorably at least a couple of times I'd gasp in horror as she would come millimeters away from slicing her finger, or wince when she would forget that a pan she had just taken out of the oven was still hot and burn her hand. It was physically painful to sit and watch so I slowly started offering my help with the more dangerous tasks, and eventually commandeered any culinary activity that was to scary for me to watch her perform. To her defense, that tiny little kitchen had about a foot and a half of counter space, she had the wrong types of knives, and was using her grandmothers antique cutting board that was more slippery than a freshly caught bass, so the odds were sort of stacked against her.

Holidays and birthdays became opportunities to give her the gift of safety, non-slip cutting boards, manageable knives, etc. Not a day goes by where I don't hear "oops" or hear a bonking or clattering sound multiple times, but I worry less about her losing a digit than I used to, which is nice. The other day during a particularly festive breakfast I decided that I would count the number of "oops" for the whole day. Sadly I ended with a count of four midway through breakfast before I gave up with both of us laughing extremely hard.

In Spring 2007 my girlfriend was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that is essentially an allergy to all wheat, rye, barley, and gluten containing products. She was diagnosed after several years of gastrointestinal issues and two bouts of pancreatitis within 18 months. Considering that she is not the likely candidate for pancreatitis, one of her doctors finally realized that something else might be at work and ordered the test for Celiac Disease. We were simultaneously relieved (glad it wasn't something more serious) and confused, "what the heck is gluten?". Well gluten is in just about everything as it turns out and we've had to rethink how we do just about everything, from ingredient label reading, food storage, meal selection and preparation, it's been an interesting process, and we've had some fun along the way. She often thanks me for being willing to experiment with new foods, and try new things, and above all cook her delicious gluten free foods, but she's wonderful and deserves it. Besides, I have my stash of regular wheat bread out in the garage where she'll never find it.....

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