Monday, June 22, 2009

Comfort Food

photo courtesy of gorbould

Comfort. Webster's defines it two ways: 1 : to give strength and hope to, 2 : to ease the grief or trouble of.

I have certainly been seeking comfort during this stressful time. I have also been receiving it. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of my friends and family. I am grateful to all of you that have helped us out. And below, a recipe for some comforting lentil dal.

I want to say thank you to:
  • SP for taking E overnight the day of J's surgery. You provided her with enough distraction that she had no time to worry about her daddy.
  • TB for making us tons of yummy food. You took the time to learn how to prepare some GF meals so that I wouldn't have to worry about food. Twice you brought us such an abundance of goodness that I now have lots of leftovers stored in the freezer. One of those recipes was so fabulous and GF that I will be featuring it in a future post.
  • JP for coming a staying at the house to attend to Jeff and help with the kids so I could run to the store and stock up on much needed staples. Also, for picking up and taking E to ballet. That was amazingly helpful.
  • YB for being there after a VERY stressful day to help me get my house back in order. I know you kept asking if there was more, but what you did was such a relief, it allowed me to relax for just a little while.
  • SS for coming and staying 2 nights with us. I am grateful for the care you provided Jeff when I couldn't be there. Without you I would not have been able to take E to all her dress rehearsals and be out of town when it was required. Also for making dinner on Friday night. To come home to that delicious smell, the table set and the food lovingly prepared was truly heart-warming.
  • KA for coming over on Father's Day (thanks for sharing her DA) to "babysit" my whole family so I could go grocery shopping.
  • AG for providing some comic relief as well as helping me clean spots in the house that were neglected far too long. It was so nice to have those things taken care of. Now I can walk into the bathrooms without the dust bunnies revolting and the soap scum mocking me.
  • Mom for sacrificing your time and restoring my mental health. The cooking, cleaning, being there to attend to Jeff, the errands, etc. Too much to list and it meant the world to me.
I love you all and I am eternally grateful!

And what would a post about comfort be without a recipe for some comfort food??

These days comfort food has a different meaning. I used to reach for starchy, glutenous breads, especially sourdough with fresh, salted butter. Or oatmeal cookies. Or mack and get the idea. I know those things can be made GF, but I don't have time right now to do the research, buy the special flours and bake them.

I have to rely on something quick and easy. I found that in this super simple dal. You could easily add greens, onions, etc. to jazz this up, but it was fast, simple and delicious as is. That is what I needed. I served it over quinoa and the meal was perfected. Sorry I don't have a picture of it. I need to get in the routine of doing that.

Red Lentil Dal

1 cup washed red lentils
2 cups water
1 Tbs oil (I used grape seed, but any lightly flavored would work)
1 (generous) tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder

Bring lentils and water to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20-30 min, stirring often. Keep your eye on the lentils so that they don't dry out, or you could add more water, but you risk the dal being runny.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan heat the oil over med heat. When the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and stir until they are warmed and fragrant. Add the remaining spices and stir for about 1 min. more. Remove from the heat and allow the spices to infuse the oil.

Stir the spiced oil into the lentils just before serving. Put the dal over rice, quinoa or your favorite grain of choice. Enjoy and be comforted.

Serves 2.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DH is fine, hosptial food is not

My DH had spinal surgery on the 15th of June. It went very well. He was released to come home the day of the surgery. Now he is managing his pain and working on his recovery. He is expected to do very well after some down time. Yay!

The food at the hospital was an adventure. The new hospital in Springfield (Riverbend) is beautiful and the cafeteria is really nice, if you can eat gluten. I have to give them credit, they had a nice variety of salads and prepackaged dressing that would have worked for me, but I needed more. I was stressed and wanted something warm and comfortable to eat. I figured it is a new, first class hospital, surely they know how to serve the gluten free in Lane County.

Well, not really. I walked away from the sandwich deli when I didn't see any GF bread, avoided the pizza/pasta section and didn't see anything hopeful in the "Chef's Choice" section. I wandered over to the another section that had Asian and Indian fare. I was hopeful. I asked and was shown the rice (duh) and then was pointed to the obvious gluten items like breaded chicken, potstickers and egg rolls. Good start. Then it was suggested I have the teryaki chicken. Alarm bell. Does it have soy sauce in it? Yes. Is it gluten-free soy sauce or tamari? Blank stare. I walked away. I couldn't take the chance.

As luck would have it there is a Cafe Yumm on the first floor, far from the cafeteria (we have Cafe Yumms all over town and I am quite familiar with their GF fare). There I found my comfort food. I had a Yumm Bowl which is GF! Hurray for Cafe Yumm!

If you not familiar with Cafe Yumm you might want to give them a try. Their company reflects many of my personal values: sustainability, supporting local farmers and businesses, recycling and organic. Their Yumm Bowls are all gluten free and are delicious combinations of beans, rice, veggies and Yumm sauce. The combination of flavors and textures creates a soul satisfying taste sensation that keeps you filled for hours.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Oh my gosh, it has been too long! Life just keeps getting in the way: sick kid, sick computer, another sick kid, big important meetings at work....excuses, all of them. And now, my DH is going in for spinal surgery in a week. Things are just crazy around here.

Stick with me though. I have lots of GF stories to tell. I just have to find time...

We had a Chipotle Mexican Grill open in our town this week. I am so happy! I ate there two days in a row and didn't seem to have any kind of reaction.

Both days I had a Bowl. It is basically the same things that would put on a burrito, without the tortillas. It had some yummy lime-cilantro rice, black beans, carnitas, fresh tomato salsa, sour cream and cheese. I also at the guacamole and chips. Yum!

I did some homework before I went so I felt confidant I knew how to avoid gluten. I easily found a list of ingredients that contain wheat and other allergens. They supposedly have some gluten information on their website, but I wasn't able to find it. When I emailed the company they quickly responded with the information that is on their website:

"Most people wanting to avoid gluten can eat anything we serve except for our wheat burrito tortillas, our soft wheat taco tortillas, and possibly our hot red tomatillo salsa (there is a small amount of distilled vinegar in it which some gluten-oriented websites still say might be problematic, although most don't).

Everything else is fine to eat for most people wanting to avoid gluten, including our crispy corn tacos, our corn chips, and our burrito bowls (no tortilla). However, you should know that it's possible our corn may have a small amount of gluten from potentially co-mingling with gluten-containing grains in the field.

If you are highly sensitive and would like us to change our gloves, we would be happy to do that at your request. Additionally, because our folks work with wheat tortillas all day long, there may be the possibility of cross-contact in our restaurants. We encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices."

This was all okay for me as I don't seem to have problems with small amounts of cross-contamination. I had no intestinal distress, aches and pains, rashes, etc. Although I did just learn that I may be causing harm without symptoms (read this post by Melanie at "The Gluti Girls...and a Guy!). I have friends that would avoid it completely.

So, if your body can take the risk of a little cross-contamination I highly recommend Chipotle Mexican Grill .

Now, I am going to get back to my crazy life. Do any of you have suggestions for getting through the next few weeks while my husband is disabled and I struggle to maintain his health, the house, the kids and my sanity? All the while, trying not to contaminate myself with gluten? Advice is more than welcomed.