Speaking of Gluten | Discussing anything and everything gluten free

We’re back after a bit of a hiatus! My name is Julie and it’s my first ever blog post (so be nice) but I’m hoping to bring you many great recipes and more from the land of the gluten-free. With a recent move from Chicago to Portland, OR, my husband’s annual birthday Carrot Cake got shoved to the back burner. Now that we’re all settled nicely in our new city I thought it was time to fix that situation. I found this recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book and I’ve added a few tweaks to make it gluten-free but delicious.

With a gluten-free twist, of course ;-)

Ingredients for Cake:

  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (Authentic Foods, King Arthur, Williams & Sonoma, Bob’s, etc)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (optional, this is an ingredient I added combining two recipes)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional, this is an ingredient I added combining two recipes)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots* (lightly packed)
  • 3/4 cups cooking oil (I use Crisco vegetable oil)

*Note: The carrots need to be finely shredded or they may sink to the bottom of pan during baking.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1-8oz cream cheese package, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp Authentic Foods gluten-free Vanilla Powder OR 2 tsp of gluten-free vanilla (liquid form)
  • 6 cups sifted powdered sugar

Before I begin, I like to set out all of my ingredients to make sure I’m not missing anything needed for the recipe.

A very busy counter top

Instructions:

Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Bring to egg-sactly room temperature.

Meanwhile, grease and flour two 9 x 1-1/2 inch round cake pans and set aside.

Pan preparation

In a large mixing bowl stir together gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and baking soda.

Dry Ingredients

Making the cake

In a medium bowl add finely shredded carrots, oil and beaten eggs.

Wet Ingredients

Separate not exciting but .....

....combined is the "glue" that holds the cake together.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until combined.

Careful it can get sloppy!

Perfect mixture of wet and dry ingredients.

Pour batter into the two prepared pans.

Fill them evenly.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center of each pan comes out clean.

Now we play the waiting game.

Put a knife in me...

...I'm done!

Cool pans for 10 minutes on counter or stove top. After the cakes have cooled for 10 minutes, remove cake from pans and cool thoroughly on wire racks. For easier removal, I like to take a knife around the edges to loosen up the cake.

So close. Only a few more steps. Keep going!

Once cake is cooled, proceed with the cream cheese frosting. Beat softened cream cheese, butter and gluten-free vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Not ready to taste just yet!

Gradually add 2 cups of the sifted powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency (about 6 cups of powdered sugar total).

Go ahead and take a taste, I won't tell :-)

I like to make the flatter sides of my baked cakes meet in the middle because it’s easier to frost and they line up perfectly. Begin frosting the top of one of the cooled cakes. I like to use a butter knife to smooth out the frosting. Remember you will be frosting the top and all the sides so you want to save enough but I like to be generous in the middle of the cake.

So close to the finish line!

Once the middle is frosted, place the other cake (flat side down) on top of your frosted cake.

It looks like a whoopie pie!

Using the remaining frosting, begin frosting the top and all the sides. Don’t worry if it’s not bakery frosted quality, when it’s imperfect you know it’s homemade!

It looks good, now let's see if it tastes good. Grab a fork!

The cake is complete and now all you need to do is enjoy a delicious slice. It might not be the healthiest thing we eat all day but it sure is delicious.

Voila! Enjoy! (not too bad, right?)

Store covered cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I hope you give this a delicious recipe a try and enjoy it as much as we do! If you’ve found any other spices that you like to add to your carrot cake, let me know.

Have fun baking!

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Feb/13

3

Gluten-Free Beer Roundup

I’ve been working on this post for a while. A quickly expanding discussion on Twitter inspired me to take it live, even though there will need to be several revisions in the near future. Written from the perspective of a passionate craft beer fan who appreciates every style of beer, I hope this post can be a comprehensive resource for gluten-free beer seekers. This list is not in order by favorites, although I do call out beers that I am especially fond of. Feel free to recommend your favorites in the comments section and I’ll do my best to check them all out and add them to this post in the future. I’ll try to break things up into a few loose categories; starting with American releases, moving on to European gluten-free beer available in America and closing things out with a discussion of the “gluten-reduced” beers that are beginning to flood the market.

Anheuser-Busch Redbridge Beer

Easily the most ubiquitous gluten-free beer in America, this beer is also a go-to for many Celiacs. Due to maximum distribution and affordability, many restaurants and stores choose to sell Redbridge. There’s no denying that the good folks who produce this beer are masters of quality.

Redbridge Beer

While it may not feature the most exciting flavors and isn’t brewed by a craft beer company, it is the most consistent. On a hot day, a cold Redbridge is an easy call. Brewed with sorghum, this is one of the few gluten-free beers that has a malt flavor, although I can’t tell you what gives it that grain flavor. There is a slight hint of sweet fruits as well. Overall, this is a well-balanced beer that delivers exactly what it promises.

Lakefront Brewing New Grist

Lakefront Brewing’s offering to the gluten-free world was actually the first beer to be certified gluten-free by the US government. It may not be as widespread, but folks in the Midwest are likely to find this Wisconsin-made beer without too much trouble. My first experience with New Grist was a few years ago now, but it quickly became a front-runner in my gluten-free beer quest.

New Grist

Brewed with sorghum and rice, this beer has a nice amount of bitterness, which is something you don’t always find in gluten-free beer. Many of the complaints one hears about gluten-free beer are directly related to the sweetness of sorghum. When paired with the right hops and ingredients, savvy brewers know how to accentuate the sorghum without trying to cover it up. This is one of the beers that lets the sorghum and rice shine while creating a session beer that works for most any occasion. I noticed that this beer received a new label and is now being described as a “Pilsner style beer.” I may have to seek this one out in the near future and report back on any noticeable changes.

Bard’s Tale Beer Bard’s Gold

One of the early gluten-free beer contenders on the market, Bard’s has been a good friend to the Celiac community for what seems like forever. Brewed with sorghum, this is what I would identify as a malt-balanced beer, which again, is rare for gluten-free beers. Bard’s pours a dark gold or copper color with a nice, white head. This beer is unusually sweet, which likely gives it that malt-balanced backbone and caramel flavor. If you’ve had a Bard’s, you know what you’re getting and you’re likely pretty happy about it. The malty flavor of this beer pairs nicely with lighter fare. Finally, there are few beers on this list that are stand-out companions for a night spent with friends. For versatility, Bard’s receives very high marks.

New Planet Beer

New Planet recently started distributing on a much larger scale and I’m finding it more regularly in Chicago these days. The next three beers are all produced by New Planet.

Tread Lightly Ale

My absolute favorite of the New Planet offerings, this pale ale is everything it promises to be: mildly hopped, incredibly clear and a gluten-free session beer if there ever was one. Tread Lightly Ale is made from sorghum and corn extract. This combination tends to keep the beer from getting too sweet. A touch of orange peel enhances the sorghum flavor without trying to smother it.

This beer is brewed in Colorado and the owner is passionate about the environment. A portion of proceeds goes to environmental programs supported by New Planet. Like you needed another reason to drink some pale ale. Get this beer. Feel good about yourself.

Off-Grid Pale Ale

In New Planet’s own words:

“Off Grid Pale Ale is a wonderful interpretation of the classic pale ale style. It has a distinctly deep amber color and great character and body. Three varieties of hops provide a wonderful aroma and a citrus and spicy hop flavor. This smooth gluten-free ale is made from sorghum and brown rice extract, molasses, tapioca maltodextrin, caramel color, hops, and yeast.”

That’s a great description and there is very little I would add to it. I would like to comment on that one little ingredient that they slipped in there: caramel color. I’ve enjoyed this beer on many occasions. I’ve never had any noticeable physical problems associated with this beer. But I do wonder about the necessity to use a questionable ingredient like caramel color in a product that seems like it could stand without it. While the US government toxicology reports basically agree that it probably isn’t the best thing to ingest, there are no rules against using it; there are merely guidelines for how much a person should take in on a regular basis. There are also questions about caramel coloring and food allergies. I’m not saying that New Planet is doing anything wrong here. In fact, I salute them for being very clear about the ingredients in their products. They’re a great company and I’m a big fan. I just feel that this quality beer would still be delicious and successful without this additional ingredient.

3R Raspberry Ale

I’ll be as objective as possible. This beer was not produced with me or my palate in mind. New Planet has crafted a beer here that is aimed directly at the population of Celiacs without a Y chromosome. That’s not the point though. This is clearly a quality beer. It won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010. I know several people who drink it regularly.

In my mind, I’m generally turned off by any gluten-free beer made with fruit. It’s already a common occurrence to walk into a bar and ask for a gluten-free beer only to be told that I should order a cider. There are enough fruit-induced concoctions lying in wait for gluten-free consumers. As a craft beer drinker, I long for an American IPA, a Milk Stout, a Robust Porter or a German Helles. I’m just waiting for proper versions of my favorite beers, I suppose. Again, New Planet isn’t doing anything wrong here. I love this brewery and I love what they stand for. There is a large market for what they’re offering with this beer. I’m just being selfish.

Dogfish Head Tweason’ale

Well, speaking of fruit-induced concoctions… I love Sam Calagione, the owner of Dogfish Head, for all the reasons that most craft beer fans love him. He is deeply committed to his craft and genuinely cares about the future of his brewery and the future of the craft beer world in general. Dogfish Head beers are revered the world over for their quality and incredible flavor profiles. Unfortunately, when Sam offered a beer to the gluten-free Dogfish Head fans who were clamoring for something new, I think he missed the mark. Brewed with strawberries and honey, this beer is yet another example of what gluten-free beer drinkers are missing the most: legitimate beer styles for the gluten-free drinker. It pains me to say it, but this beer (sold in 4-packs for the price of most craft 6-packs) tastes like a rusty coin to me. Thinking I just received an out-of-date batch, I tried this beer multiple times in several locations. The result, to my chagrin, was always a coppery and irony beer-ish fermented beverage. Sam, I love you. This is not for me.

Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale

Presenting the world’s first gluten free beer in a can. This might not seem like a big deal, but I’m thrilled by this development. I like drinking on a beach. I like the idea of somebody tossing me a cold one across the porch on a hot day that I can immediately slide into a coozie. You get the idea. Many things don’t seem like something you’ll miss until you can’t have them. Drinking from a can was something I really missed. Now, onto the beer:

This beer is slightly bitter and well-hopped. If you open this beer expecting something relatively malty or sweet, like many of the other beers on this list, you’ll be confused and disappointed. This is a proper easy-drinking, slightly bitter beer meant for drinking directly from a can. Some studies suggest that canning beer in aluminum may reduce hop flavor by up to 10%. I suspect that Fox Tail receives additional hops in an attempt to keep that hop-forward flavor working for them. I’m a big fan of this beer and I’m hoping to see it more widespread in the future. It’s not real easy to find in Chicago, but I did locate it randomly in a Seattle bar. If you can get it special ordered, do yourself a favor and acquire some.

Harvester Brewing

I will provide an update at a later date discussing all the delicious beers this Portland, Oregon brewery has to offer. They malt chestnuts and brew with sorghum for an unbelievable flavor. Nutty, delicious, and groundbreaking: try the Pale Ale, IPA and more. They’re always brewing something seasonal. Check out their tasting room on Thursday afternoons to try everything they have to offer.

Green’s

Green’s is produced in Belgium and is distributed widely. The next three beers are all produced by Green’s. Green’s says their beers are “Gluten-Free Belgian Ales made from millet, sorghum, buckwheat, and rice – as well as hops, water, and yeast. ” Green’s also sells additional gluten-free beers in Europe that they claim are made from de-glutinised barley malt. I have no idea what that means, but I will try to find out more about that process in a future update.

Amber Ale

My favorite of the lot, Green’s Amber Ale is exactly what it claims to be: a proper representation of a Belgian Amber Ale featuring nutty, fruity flavors and plenty of warming alcohol. At 6.0% ABV, this is the lowest alcohol member of the American contingent of Green’s beers. The owner of Greens was diagnosed with Celiac disease years ago and that led to his passionate recreation of very specific styles of Belgian beer. The fruit and candi sugar flavors you’ll find in Green’s beers are indicative of traditional Belgian beers.

Endeavour Dubbel Ale

A proper representation of the Dubbel style, this beer is dark, fruity and strong. At 7.0% ABV, you’ll definitely taste and feel the alcohol in this beer. That’s not a bad thing, but since these beers are 16.9 oz, it can be easy to forget that you’re really drinking the same amount as 1.5 American beers, but at a heightened alcohol level. Great for splitting before or during a meal, this beer is truly decadent and has a velvety mouthfeel and rich finish.

Quest Tripel Ale

Spice, herbs, candied fruit and, of course, alcohol. This beer is a great reminder for novice craft beer drinkers that darker does not indicate stronger. This beer is paler in color than the Dubbel, but all of 8.5% ABV. This is another deceptively strong offering that is a great representative of the Tripel style.

Belgian through and through, do yourself a favor and split this beer with a friend. Enjoy the aroma, sip it slowly and let it wash over your tongue, enveloping the entire palate. This beer pairs nicely with strong-smelling vegetables, such as asparagus. I treat this beer a bit like a rich red wine, enjoying it with grilled meat or lamb dishes.

St. Peter’s G-Free

One of my all-time favorite gluten-free beers, this beer reminds me of a Heineken. The beer is generally skunked from light shining through the green bottle and the time it takes to import this beer from the UK, but it is a memory of years and beers gone by. I was never a huge fan of Heineken, but the flavors bring me back to a different time, when I could have a skunked out Euro-lager, if I so chose. If I see this beer on a menu, I’m choosing it every time. Bitter, pale and delicious. If you enjoy bitter UK ales, this beer may be for you.

And now, we should probably discuss the trend of gluten-reduced beers that is creeping into beer coolers across the world…

I could (and probably will) write a post dedicated entirely to this topic. I want to be sure to call out the beers that are practicing using enzymes to break down gluten in their beers. These enzymes were originally used to improve clarity and reduce chill haze. Brewers soon discovered an interesting side-effect: this enzyme also broke down gluten to acceptable levels, by government standards anyhow. I am not saying that these brewers are breaking any rules. There are new labeling laws in effect that will require that these beers are labeled as “brewed to remove gluten” instead of “gluten-free.” In the interest of consumer knowledge, I also want to share the beers that are using “de-glutenised barley,” which is a designation I have only seen in European beers, but I think it’s equally important to share this information. If you visit the websites of these brewers, you will see that I’m sharing the same information that they are. None of them are hiding what they put in their beers or the processes. Everything they are doing is totally legal and I have enjoyed many of these beers without any health hiccups. Without further ado:

US Beers:

Two Brothers Prairie Path, Omission Lager, Omission Pale Ale, Omission IPA

European Beers:

Mongozo Premium Pilsener, Estrella Damm Daura, Brunehaut Ales

I’m sure there are many others out there and I will be adding to this list as I have time. I am really curious to hear what other gluten intolerant folks, like myself, think about the gluten-reduce or de-glutenised barley beers out there. Has anybody had any adverse effects from these beers? If you have thoughts on any of these beers or any that I’m missing, please let me know and I’ll get drinking! Be sure to let me know on Twitter if you locate any new GF beers as well. Cheers!

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Jun/12

21

Wildfire Pizza Review

Before we begin, let’s make peace with this simple fact: I recognize that it’s a sin to go to a steakhouse and order pizza. Wildfire is one of my go-to gluten-free restaurants in downtown Chicago. I have a regular order there: spinach & artichoke fondue, black peppercorn filet cooked medium, cheddar double stuffed potato and a bottle or two of Redbridge. When I’m really feeling like treating myself, I’ll also devour the flourless chocolate cake. No, I don’t finish it all. Wildfire’s portions provide the gift that keeps giving for at least one or two lovely office lunch reheats.

Alas, I’m already straying from the point. On my last visit to Wildfire in downtown Chicago, the thermometer read 96 degrees. I simply can’t be expected to order a meal of that size and still be able to breathe, walk and perform the other simple functions demanded of a human in this heat. I eyeballed the salads briefly and even spied the seafood offerings momentarily before my eyes settled on this miracle of the Wildfire pizza offerings:

Chicken sausage, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, jalapeno jack cheese

Making my decision even easier was the realization that Wildfire swapped out the Redbridge gluten-free beer option for Bard’s Tale beer. I’m not a Redbridge hater and it can be really refreshing in summer heat, but when I’m sentimentally craving craft beer flavor, Bard’s is one of the only commercially-available gluten-free beers that fits the bill.

Everybody knows I can talk beer all day, but please, let’s get back to the point once more. Whoever came up with this pizza is a hero. The spicy chicken sausage balances beautifully with the caramelized onions. The green and red peppers taste nearly pickled, which is perfect because their sweetness helps to cool the fire of the jalapeno jack cheese. The smoky, baked crust is perfectly crisped from the wood-burning oven and the sauce is mild and plays a perfect supporting role. With so many huge flavors, what more does the sauce have to do? There are huge chunks of garlic and tomato floating in the sauce while loads of interesting spice flavors and aromas emanate from the chicken sausage. This is an incredibly well-balanced meal, but put it all on a pizza and your palette needs days to recover.

Mouth = Watering

I ate half of the pizza and brought the other half to the office for lunch the following day. It microwaved well and is filling enough for two meals. The only thing missing was a cold beer to wash it down with.

Rounding out my Wildfire meal this time around were the complementary gluten-free bread roll as an appetizer, an obligatory cheddar double stuffed potato (half with the meal, half reheated the following day), and two bottles of Bard’s. My one and only complaint was that the beer was provided with a super-chilled glass. I prefer beer closer to room temperature both for flavor and because it reduces the amount of air taken in while drinking, but with the nearly-unbearable heat of late spring Chicago lurking menacingly just outside those double-doors, I’m not going to get too upset.

Even as a go-to restaurant that I’ve been to more times than I can count, Wildfire’s gluten-free menu continues to surprise and thrill me. I’ll definitely be getting after this pizza on subsequent trips to Wildfire. What’s your favorite gluten-free Wildfire meal?

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Anybody who has followed this blog for any length of time is familiar with my affinity for all things breakfast. What I am about to describe is a gluten-free wonder of old school baking: a magical combination of fluffy dough with crispy edges and apples drenched in a cinnamon and sugar glaze.

Apple Pancake

The Apple Pancake

The apple pancake was something I wasn’t introduced to until I was in my teens, so I never really craved this beast of bakery magic until I could no longer have it. This isn’t an every week thing in my house, but it really hits the spot in late summer and fall when the apples are ripe and you find yourself lucky enough to have a weekend morning free.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (Authentic Foods or King Arthur brand work well for me)
  • 1 cup milk – low fat or 1% is fine
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Authentic Foods vanilla powder

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, add flour, milk, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
  2. In another bowl, mix brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Add butter in a 10″ pyrex-type deep dish pie container and put in oven.
  4. Turn oven to 400°.
  5. When butter is completely melted, remove from oven.
  6. Pour batter into buttered dish and put in oven for 20-25 minutes.
  7. In a separate pan, warm apples, butter (to taste) and cinnamon. Cook for 13-15 minutes.
  8. Remove batter from oven and add apple mixture.
  9. Cover entire dish with brown sugar/sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  10. Return dish to oven for 20-25 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven, let cool, cut into portions and enjoy!

Depending on your oven and your altitude, cook times may vary, so do pay close attention to this dish while cooking. It took a couple of tries to really get this recipe right, but it is totally worth it when you get it down.

Before Cinnamon and Sugar

Before cinnamon and sugar

cinnamon and sugar-topped

Cinnamon and sugar-topped

Serving size

Serving size? Sure.

Let me know how yours turns out or share any tips and tricks in the comments. Cheers!

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Generally, I avoid getting into political discussions, but I can’t help but draw a comparison between what’s happening on Wall Street right now and what is happening across America at breweries who are letting down gluten-free beer drinkers like you and me. Please follow along as I make an impassioned attempt at tying my own (admittedly minor) personal disappointments to those (serious issues) of the world.

To the best of my knowledge, the Occupy Wall Street movement is a plea by people who have been excluded from the democratic process and have been forced to sit on the sidelines while big business pulls the strings of the American political system. Gluten-free ladies and gentleman, I feel I hardly have to begin drawing comparisons to our gastronomic plight, but I’m going to spell it out anyway.

We are the outsiders

But you knew that already. While the Occupy Wall Street folks are the unofficial representatives of the 99%, we have the responsibility to represent the 1% of people out there forced to live in gluten-free abandonment, courtesy of the brewing industry.

Breweries are our oppressors

I can already hear the cries of “Blasphemy!” Allow me to explain. It is true that many within our digestive minority are satisfied with the handouts, the bits of crumb, the substandard alcoholic swill that has been doled out in the hopes of silencing our meddling voices. I am not one of those folks, and I’m guessing that you are not either. I can count the number of nationally-available gluten-free brews on one hand. I can count the ones worth drinking on less than one finger. And while it is true that an occasional micro-brewery or brewpub will throw us a bone once in a while and make us feel loved, the majority of the time, these brewers are laughing with the bar crowd about how little they give us and how much we are willing to pay.

We have no voice

False. Inspired by the events happening across the country, I present to you the Occupy Breweries Movement, OBM for the sake of brevity. The idea is that each weekend, a group of like-minded gluten-free folks (and those who would support our movement) will stand outside of a brewery with signs and sandwich boards, demanding that a gluten-free beer be developed, brewed, packaged and sold at a fair price. After all, the national brews that are available don’t match craft beer in taste or quality. Why the heck are they so expensive? You’re thinking, “How about an example of a sign, friend?” Well, how about this? “We came here, We want beer, We refuse to drink in fear!” My lack of skills in marketing and propaganda not withstanding, it’s a start and I’m sure more creative wordsmiths than I will succeed where I might fail.

Our taste buds work just fine

We know good gluten-free beer exists. Talk to all those who have taken gluten-free brewing into their own homes and produced such libations that would rival gluten-filled beers from major breweries. What is currently available more closely resembles the miserable beers all of America was forced to drink before the craft brewery explosion. The most popular gluten-free beer nationally simply calls itself ‘beer.’ So uninterested are they in this bottle of suds that even the website purportedly advertising this product was never updated to show off the new six-pack packaging. Sure, you can find an ale here and there, but the great majority of gluten-free beer is some sort of fruit and spice experiment that never should make it to mass production. At what point do we stop torturing our taste buds and demand something better? When do we get a hop-blasted India Pale Ale or a legitimate stout? Several of the beers taking home medals from the Great American Beer Festival the last few years have been fruit experiments soaked with lemon or raspberry. I can accept that these beers taste good and may be plenty flavorful, but we have enough limitations put on our palates. I’m sensing a dangerous precedent is being set where the brewing industry will continue to throw alcoholic fruit juice at us. Friends, I can no longer sit quietly and grimace in disgust. My previous proclivity to beer-snobbery will simply not allow me to.

The Plan

But, seriously, what are we going to do? Obviously, there are too few of us spread around in too many places to have a great impact on this issue in the conventional sit-in, stand-out, protest sort of fashion. So my thought is to inundate the biggest craft brewers, the people who really make the brewing industry tick, with emails, phone calls, twitter messages, letters delivered by homing pigeons, whatever, describing our plight and gently suggesting that they do something nice for us. After all, most of us were good enough to them before we knew we were gluten-free, how about a little reciprocity? Perhaps a request for a gluten free ale, lager, stout, porter or another fine traditional beer style to pacify our weary palates? My thought is that if a craft brewer with a high enough profile heeds our suggestion and creates something wonderful for us, that others will follow and soon we’ll have legitimate gluten-free craft beer choices. I’ve listed several top notch craft beer pioneers of our time who have the knowledge, means and influence to make our craft beer dreams come true. Reach out to these people in every conventional mode of communication. Be gentle, but firm. We deserve this.

Craft Brew Contacts:

Sam Koch, Brewer of Sam Adams Boston Lager and a host of other great craft beers:
The Boston Beer Company
One Design Center, Suite 850
Boston, MA 02210
617.368.5000

Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, Brewers of Levitation, Arrogant Bastard and many other beers:
Stone Brewing Co.
760.471.4999
email@stonebrew.com
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029

Sam Calagione, Brewer of incredibly inventive ales and more (I think our best shot at a big-time gluten-free breakthrough):
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales

Brett Porter, brand new Head Brewer of Honker’s Ale and loads of other terrific Island beers (they sold a portion of the business to A-B, but I believe they’ll continue to push the limits of quality craft beer):
Goose Island Beer Co.
1800 West Fulton St.
Chicago, IL  60612
info@gooseisland.com
(312)226-1119

So these are the big timers of craft brewing. These are some of the most open-minded brewers of our time and if we want gluten-free craft beer to improve, one or more of them will need to step up. If you think up a great slogan for our movement, share it in the comments below so we can all use it. And if anybody in the Chicago area does want to occupy the sidewalk in front of Goose Island on a Saturday, let me know. I’ll bring the posters, markers and hopefully something witty to chant.
Cheers!

Aug/11

19

Venice Gluten-Free Store

I wanted to post a quick update about a great little shop I found while traveling through Venice. I know others have blogged about this place as well, but I figure the more exposure the better for this great gluten-free resource. It’s called Mea Libera Tutti. It’s a little tucked away, but it’s worth your time to seek it out.

It seems that gluten-free restaurants and shops promote each other everywhere I travel and Italy was no different. Mea Libera Tutti was recommended by multiple restaurant owners we met in Venice.

When we arrived, the owner was immediately springing into action, showing us all of the newest and most exciting items in her shop. She is gluten intolerant and so is her son, so she understands the issues of Celiac disease very well. My wife and I talked to her at length and she ran around gathering samples of candies and cookies for us to try. We bought as much as our arms could carry. We were especially excited to purchase loads of different pastas and breads to bring back to Chicago with us. We had such a great experience that I promised her I would blog specifically about her store when I returned home.

One of the most exciting products we found was a gluten-free chocolate coffeecake filled with espresso-flavored cream filling. I know it wasn’t healthy, but it made for an excellent breakfast and snack on the go. We also found small loaves of french bread for making quick sandwiches. We even bought several bottles of Estrella Damm Daura gluten-free beer for wandering around Venice with.

The bottom line is that any trip to Venice isn’t gluten-free complete without a visit to Mea Libera Tutti. You can find it here:

Mea Libera Tutti - Please see Cindy’s note in the comments for the new location of Mea Libera Tutti!
Cannaregio 3805, Venice
+39 347-8488284

I’ll blog more about the wonderful gluten-free Italian places we discovered in Venice, Rome and Florence soon, but I wanted to be sure to take the time to call out Mea Libera Tutti in advance. Have you been to this place? Know of other great gluten-free resources in Venice? Post them below! Cin Cin!

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Aug/11

16

Fun at the Old Ball Park

Baseball. The very word conjures up memories of glories on the field, family moments in the living room watching the games, standing under the Wrigley Field sign for the obligatory tourist picture. For me personally, there are innumerable memories that I still carry with me. I’ll never forget Harry Caray phonetically spelling player names backwards. I’ll never forget going to Wrigley Field as a young man and catching a baseball thrown by Damon Berryhill (look him up, kids). And most recently, I’ll never forget my first gluten-free meal at Wrigley Field.

Baseball

My First Game Ball

I knew that Wrigley offered Redbridge gluten-free beer at select beer stands throughout the stadium. I also knew you might find some sort of pumpkin seed and dried fruit mixture if you looked really hard. What I didn’t realize was the incredible offerings you can find nestled in the right field corner of the stadium at the Sheffield Grill.

I found myself wandering into Sheffield Grill for two reasons. I knew they had gluten free beer and I knew it was air-conditioned. When I walked in and ordered a Redbridge, the lovely young lady behind the register inquired whether I was aware that they also had gluten-free hot dog and hamburgers. I was not.

I ordered a hot dog with grilled onions and the cooks countered with a pickle, potato chips and the first hot dog I’ve eaten in almost three years. Everybody behind the grill knew exactly what they were doing. The hot dog bun took a few minutes to prepare (I’m assuming it was frozen), but the cook took the time to explain to me that everything he was putting on my plate was indeed gluten-free. He even went so far as to clue me in that the gluten-free rolls they serve come from everybody’s favorite: Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery north of Chicago in Evanston. I’ll spend some time singing the praises of Rose’s in another post.

Ballgame

Out with the Crowd

Just like that, I’m part of the crowd. I’m enjoying an ice-cold beer at the ballpark while chowing down on the quintessential ballpark cuisine and not feeling even a bit left out. I even went back for another round. I was stuffed and couldn’t finish the second hot dog (the rolls are quite filling, but taste amazing).

So I have a new tradition to enjoy at the old ballpark. I keep hearing that more and more sports venues are adding gluten-free vendors to the mix. I’ve been adding them on Gloodies.com as I come across them, but feel free to talk up your local sports venue in the comments if they support the gluten intolerant. Cheers!

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Whether you have traditionally followed me on this blog or not, you may have noticed that it has been over a year since I have published anything. So much has happened. I’ve become quite good at brewing gluten-free beer. I have discovered fabulous new recipes and gluten-free grocery products that I look forward to sharing. I won’t bore you with personal details, but last year, my work life exploded and my career carried me to a place where I averaged fifty-some hours per week for the year. I spent many nights and weekends in the office. How I managed to maintain my gluten-free lifestyle during the past year is a discussion for another post. Recently, I have regained control of my professional life, but one thing stood out to me last year that led me on a very different path than the one I was on.

A struggle that became increasingly apparent last year while I was working so many hours, was that locating places that are friendly for gluten-free folks is still very difficult. If you are reading this, I don’t have to tell you that gluten awareness is growing and more products are flooding into the market every day. But when it comes to eating and drinking on the run, we still have very few options. There is a gluten-free restaurant directory, but it is difficult to navigate. There are maps that require you to download additional software. There are sites where piles of restaurants are uploaded via user submission and no moderation is done to provide any sort of consistency or quality.

As soon as I had the time, I started planning, coding and stockpiling information from my own personal travels around the country. What if there were a place that featured every restaurant, bar, bakery and market that catered to the gluten free community? What if that place featured sortable content, mapping and a description of what to expect at each location? Finally, I wanted to know how helpful that site would be if it was moderated by one person who investigated each and every gluten-free location to ensure accuracy of information.

What started out as a way for me to map my personal gluten-free travels quickly became a passion for sharing knowledge with others who also find it difficult to locate gluten-free accommodations in their neck of the woods. Now, I am happy to present Gloodies. Gloodies.com was born out of personal necessity, but has grown into a robust search engine and mapping tool for people who live the gluten-free life.

My favorite part of Gloodies.com is the way you search for information. Enter a city or zip code and away you go. If you’re planning a trip, you can enter the location you’ll be going before you ever leave. I’ve been using the site as a way to prepare an itinerary before I head out. There is an area where users are encouraged to upload any gluten-free locations that they are aware of that haven’t yet been uploaded to the site. I moderate all submissions to make sure the wrong sorts of sites aren’t being uploaded.

So, what are the right locations? Gloodies.com features only restaurants that offer either gluten-free menus or offer individual gluten-free items such as pizza. I only upload bakeries that offer daily gluten-free options. I only upload bars that feature gluten-free beer. Finally, the only markets that get added are markets which have made a concerted effort to make life easier for us in living on a gluten-free diet.

There are many upgrades planned for Gloodies.com. First, I am looking at ways of presenting more location results per page. I’d like to make it easier to determine which sites are which on the map without having to click to see them. Finally, I plan on rolling out applications for iPhone, iPad and Android. I believe Gloodies will work even better as an application than as a web site, since GPS will make searching even easier.

I have added locations all over the country so far. Since I am from the Chicago-land area, I have uploaded way more sites there than anywhere else. My travels have recently taken me to Washington, D.C. and Houston, TX, where I was shocked at the amount of gluten free options, so those are the areas I would like to focus on next. If you have suggestions, feel free to email me or submit them on Gloodies.

I hope you find the site as useful as I have found it. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know. I look forward to sharing this site with the community. I also promise not to be such a stranger on this blog…

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If you keep up with my blog at all, you know that I’m a huge brinner (breakfast for dinner) fan. Breakfast being the most important meal of the day, I try to eat it as often as possible at all times of the day. This particular recipe is a traditional breakfast skillet with potatoes, meat, cheese and eggs and it serves 2 people. This is also another recipe that is easier and more fun with 2 people. Let’s get started.

Skillet Brinner

Skillet Brinner

Ingredients
1 Potato
4 strips of bacon
6 oz shredded cheese or 2 slices of Kraft American cheese
4 eggs

Instructions
The first step is to cut up the potato into 1/4″ chunks. You can cut them smaller if you like, but 1/4″ is a nice bite-size serving. Grease a small skillet pan with butter or your preferred gluten free cooking spray and toss the potato chunks in. Cook them covered over medium heat for 10 minutes or until they soften up a bit. Add in a dash of salt and pepper to taste at this point if you like. If you really like butter, feel free to add a pat of butter to the potatoes as well. This can help them to soften up a bit. Don’t forget to move the potato chunks around from time to time during cooking to ensure that every chunk gets a proper amount of attention from the heat.

Potatoes

Potatoes Cooking

While your potatoes are cooking, begin cooking your bacon. It’s up to you if you decide to cook your bacon on the stove or bake it in the oven. Regardless, just be sure you have a gluten free bacon and that it is well cooked. If you cook it on the stove, be sure to place it on a bed of paper towels and dab it with paper towels to remove a bit of the excess grease when finished cooking.

De-greasing bacon

De-greasing bacon

Around the time that your bacon and potatoes are wrapping up, you should begin cooking your eggs. I prefer my eggs over-easy, but you can cook them to your own liking.

Cooking Eggs

Cooking Eggs

While your eggs are cooking, break apart your bacon into small pieces and mix it in with the potatoes. Once you have them mixed well, you can add shredded cheese to the mix. If you want to use American slices, you may prefer to wait until the mix is plated.

Cheese, Bacon and Potatoes

Cheese, Bacon and Potatoes

Finally, it’s time to plate your masterpiece. I prefer to serve my skillets in a bowl. Place the cheese, potato and bacon mix in the bowl first. If you are using sliced cheese, place that over the mixture now. Finally, take 2 eggs and place them on top of the mixture. Salt and pepper to taste, if you like, and you are all finished.

Brinner is Served

Brinner is Served

This is a very basic skillet recipe, but you can add whatever you like to make it your own. Try Bob Evans crumbled sausage or spicy turkey sausage for a kick. Pile in sauteed vegetables or some hot sauce for more flavor. There are no limitations. Just be sure, as always, that your ingredients are gluten free. Let us know how you make this recipe your own in the comments.

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I wish I had a better name for this recipe, but strawberry pretzel cream cheese dessert is all I’ve ever known it as. It is really easy to make and satisfies the sweetest tooth. If you haven’t enjoyed pretzels and strawberries together, then I just feel sorry for you and it’s time for your taste buds to have their minds blown. I’m thrilled any time I get to enjoy Glutino gluten free pretzels. Even my friends who still eat gluten agree that they are the best pretzels ever. This recipe features pretzels as the main ingredient in the crust, so let’s start there.

Strawberries and Pretzels

Strawberries + Pretzels = BFF

Crust:
3/4 cup crushed pretzels
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Glutino Pretzels

Super-versatile Glutino Pretzels

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. I crush my pretzels by placing them in a clear baggie and running a rolling pin over them until the largest pieces are about 1/4″. Use a spoon or your hands to mix the ingredients together in a bowl.

Crust Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

Lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan and flatten out the pretzel mix in it until the entire bottom of the pan is covered. I prefer a Pyrex glass dish, but any pan will do. Cook this mixture for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and allow the mixture to cool for at least an hour.

Pretzel Crust Cooling

Pretzel Crust Cooling

Middle Layer:
4 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/2 cup sugar
approximately 7 oz. Cool Whip

Remaining Ingredients

Remaining Ingredients

Once your crust has had ample time to cool, begin the middle layer by whipping your cream cheese. While whipping, gradually add the sugar.

Cream Cheese and Sugar Mixture

Cream Cheese and Sugar Mixture

Once you have whipped the cream cheese and sugar, fold in the cool whip. 7 oz. is difficult to measure out. Adding a bit more or less will not hurt this recipe. I prefer a fluffier middle layer, so I tend to err on the side of adding too much.

Fluffy and Ready

Fluffy and Ready

Once your mixture has been sufficiently folded, pour it over the crust and smooth it with a spatula. Allow this layer to sit and firm up for 10-15 minutes.

Finished Middle Layer

Finished Middle Layer

Topping:
1 small package strawberry Jell-O
1 cup hot water
1 large package frozen strawberries (be sure your strawberries contain only strawberries, some additives contain wheat)

This is the trickiest layer of the recipe. Mix Jell-O and hot water until dissolved. While still frozen, add in the strawberries. It is important to allow the frozen strawberries to cool down the Jell-O mixture to prevent the topping from soaking into the lower layers and making the pretzels a soggy mess. Once at a sufficiently cool temperature (but before it begins to congeal), pour over the top of the fluffy middle layer and smooth out accordingly.

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat

At this point, place the entire concoction in the refrigerator and wait for about 2 hours. When you are ready, cut into slices and serve. It takes a bit of time, but all of the techniques are simple and the ingredients are all generally readily available on the shelf at your local grocery store. If your local grocer doesn’t carry Glutino pretzels, ask them politely to consider it. They make a great snack even when not being used for a wonderful crust in a tasty dessert. Try out this recipe and be sure to share your experience in the comments.

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