Archive for November, 2010

Never had we gathered around the dining room table.  In various combinations we had been joined in those same chairs, but never all at the same time.  When Sweet One came home, it was a promise we made to one another.  We would gather together with those that we love, with those that he served with an ocean away, with friends we have each made along life’s journey.  Dining out, it’s a challenge these days.  Gluten free was somewhat possible to manage, but gluten free and msg free is an altogether different ball game.  Every time MSG finds its way in the affects on my body reaching deeper and taking longer to fade.  I know, in time, if I keep exposing my body to the poison I will be where I am with gluten.  I am bound and determined to avoid that catastrophe.  Bearing this in mind the texts flew between sister and I flew.  Dinner, was arranged.  This time, I would cook in my own kitchen and they would come.

I spent a few hours, the night before we were slated to gather, preparing the meal.   I had the pork roast in the crock, the apple pie cooling on the counter, the cookie dough resting in the refrigerator, the cutting board cleansed from the salad prep, the bread risen and safely stowed in the refrigerator to be baked the next afternoon.  The sweet potatoes waited to be peeled, but they would continue to wait until just before everyone gathered.  I glanced around the kitchen, content with the evenings work.  I am always happiest when the kitchen has been torn apart and been put back together again, the labors of love resting quietly on the counters, in the refrigerator, in the freezer, or anywhere else they will fit in my ridiculously tiny kitchen.  Someday I will have a kitchen that is more fitting to the passions of my life, but for now we make do with the tiny little counter as we fumble around one another.  I chose to be grateful that he is there, underfoot and willing to help.  My eyes grew misty more than once at the simple fact he was there doing the dishes that I was dirtying.  We waited a long year for nights like this to occur.

They came, the next night.  The clan that became mine five years ago, the man who chose to love me, and I gathered around the dining room table they gifted me.  That table saw sis through her collage days, saw the early days of her parenthood, was given to me in my days as a single woman, and now sees us through this season of change as families morph into something new and yet familiar.  It’s an old table, just the way a table ought to be.  The scuff marks and faded paint make me smile.  Aren’t we all just a little scuffed and faded by the time we enter our third decade of life?  I don’t mind that the table reflects that sentiment.  It seems proper to me somehow.  We devoured the food set upon that old table.  The sweet potatoes disappeared, though not quite as fast as the bread.  The pork roast was exclaimed over multiple times.  I love the words my people give me when it comes to food, but no praise speaks quite so loudly as the silence when they chew, the slight clatter of spoons against ceramic as they reach for second portions.  My heart danced a bit when the eldest boy asked me “Can I have more of THAT?” and reached for the roast he originally wrinkled his nose at.

The mere scraps of pork roast that remained on the platter, the scant crumbs scattered over the cutting board that held the bread a mere half hour ago, the half empty bowl of sweet potatoes, the still full bowl of salad, they told me all I needed to know about our evening meal.  The content smiles, the nearly empty glasses of wine, and the grown-ups gathered on the back patio as the children played the games of boys who are given flashlights were a peaceful ending to the clan dinner made my heart sing. Later as the men reached for second portions of apple pie and the eldest nephew gave me his most pathetic begging eyes as he requested “Just one more awesome cookie” I settled into the happiest place of my culinary heart.  I have missed cooking for those I love.  It was good, to gather again and feed them food I know is good for the bodies.  That is good for my soul.   Never before had we gathered like this, with all of us around one table in person rather than one joining via cell phone.  Never before, but many times to come.  This is the prayer I whispered as I sat enjoying the laughter and the clatter of so many under one roof.  A simple prayer “let there be more, of this”.


Farmers Market

It was the most delightful morning on Saturday.  It seems that Fall finally notified the thermometer that it should read something less than 90 degrees so we made our way to the Scottsdale Farmers Market.  I wandered the aisles in a state of awe at both the crisp air and the amazing products around me.  Artisan cheeses, homemade apple butter, free range chickens, and goat meat all for sale by sweet people who clearly love what they do.  There were a number of gluten free offerings hidden like treasures throughout the market.  I would have loved to try them all, but it was not possible.  The apple butter was safe, the saltines she offered me with a dab of the dark goodness were not.  The goat cheese should have been fine, but where had the cutting board been?  I’m too sensitive to the slightest amount of gluten so I shook my head no and held a hand up to vendor after vendor.  Sweet One was kind enough to try a few things for me.  The vendor’s baffled as I watched him eagerly quizzing him on flavor and texture.  Some products we simply purchased untested.

Then, there was McClendon’s.  They provide basket upon basket of the beautiful bounty fall brings our way.  There were the usual suspects like onions, potatoes, garlic and zucchini.  There were strange things I had never seen before like Tokyo Cross Turnips(they are delightful – a bit like a radish and a turnip in one little white ball).  I could have explored for an hour, but it seems that everyone else loves this stall as well. The line waiting when they opened reminded me of a Nascar race.  Everyone anticipating and literally running as soon as the signal was given that set-up was complete.  McClendon’s produce was lovely, bright, crisp, and fragrant.  Their website has a handy reference sheet on the “proper” way to store produce!

As much as I loved the veggies, my favorite find of the day was hands down the peppercorn chevre.  We seem to find a new “need” for it each evening.  It’s graced Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn tortilla chips, been sprinkled over fritatta’s, and been slathered over the ratatouille and quinoa dinner we shared.
I can’t wait to go back again!

I came here to write more than once over the last few weeks.  I came to say “I haven’t given up on writing here” and “this dish was wonderful” and “that dish was a.w.f.u.l.”.  I came to peck out words on keys and let a bit of my heart and soul out into the world. I came to share my journey in this gluten free world with others who walk these often darkened paths.  I sat and stared at the blank screen and I wondered where to start.

I could have started with the biscuits that were mediocre at best.  They made me want to try a different recipe because I miss biscuits so it seems silly to write until I find “the” biscuits.  My bookmarks are filled with recipes waiting to be tried.  Surely one of them will be better than those flat little discs were.

There was the bread that made my mouth water, the one that my Sweet One ate half a loaf of in one sitting and declared “Good like lobster dipped in butter is good” but I’m still playing with the flour combinations.

There were the apple rosemary muffins out of Gluten Free Girls new cookbook that Sweet One declared “maybe the best food I ever ate”. Those are divine just as they are but you’ll need her cookbook to replicate those beauties. 

There was the less than spectacular stuffed acorn squash that morphed into the phenomenal “mexican shepards pie” by way of sweet potatoes and chipolte.  The proportion were perfect for two, but most cook for a family so I need to do some altering before I write of it on the pages here. 

There are stories waiting to be told, but there is also a man who spent the last year an ocean away.  There are cuddles to enjoy, movies to be watched, and long walks to enjoy.  Life, it’s a little bit on the chaotic side right now but the stove and oven are not neglected.  I’ll write of the adventures we’ve shared there soon.  One story at a time, and I think I’ll leave out the guilt.  It’s only a blog after all.