Catch-Up

It’s a catch-up post!

First off, it’s Amanda’s last week of classes! Then finals and then she’ll be home for at least 3 weeks! I’m so thankful that even though college in Florida wasn’t even on our radar until a month before classes started, she has thrived and I’m truly blown away by the doors that God has opened for her. My kid has always, always wanted to be in movies. Always. It’s a scary thing for me because of everything that comes with that. But I was given some very wise advice just before she left for school and that was to “never parent out of fear.” As I’ve watched Amanda this semester (thank God for Facebook!), I’ve watched her star in short films and get a part on the campus talk show and God has really validated her dreams…at least to me but I think to her too. I’ve never discouraged her wanting to be in media. Ever. We have prayed and listened for what God’s plan for her is. And we’ll keep doing that very thing. We’re taking it all one semester at a time. When she visited here over fall break she told me, “Mom, I love it here (in Franklin) and it’s where I want to be but I know it’s not where I’m supposed to be right now. I’m thankful that my daughter prays and listens for God’s will too. I am very blessed.

I’m thankful for my husband who, upon hearing me groaning in pain (my darn back) yesterday morning, decided to stay home with me and our sick girls and crazy dog. He ran all the errands, including grocery shopping and Target run, did the dishes, folded clothes and washed laundry. Then got up at 5am to be at an early meeting this morning. Yesterday would have been incredibly difficult if he hadn’t been so unselfish.

Shane and Angie and their 3 beautiful kids came here from Florida to spend Thanksgiving with us. It was crowded. It was loud. There was lots of laughing. And we loved every second of it. Sure, we had to time our showers. And yes, “I’m getting in the shower, does anybody need to use the bathroom?” was said several times a day. But the weather was (mostly) nice and it was even warm enough for the kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner outside. And I’m very happy that I took the time to refinish my patio chairs.

We had two fires in my fire pit (besides, Daisy, it’s the best birthday present ever!). We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows- with little kids roasted marshmallows can easily turn into flaming, gooey, sticks of death- and we talked an laughed into the night. We saw the Opryland Hotel, the first time for us since the Flood. And it brought back memories for, Angie, who grew up in Tennessee and went to many a youth convention there (do any A/G people remember Thanksgiving Youth Conventions?). The lights were fantastic, as always, and I plan on going back at least once more before the end of the season.

We visited mutual friends (that I’ve mentioned a million times), Kris and Mary at their house in Mt. Juliet. We ate the most wonderful food and my sweet friend took the time and went through the trouble of making a lot of things gluten free. I brought some gluten free bread, figuring I could eat a turkey sandwich, but I could eat almost everything there. Including a PEANUT BUTTER PIE!!! With a gf, oreo (type) cookie crust! It was absolutely incredible. And I honestly don’t remember the last time I had pie. (Oh wait, it was for Trav’s birthday…gluten free apple blueberry that tasted like sand paper 🙂 ) I never expect friends or family to go through the trouble of cooking for me but it means so much to me when they do.

We also hiked and told stories from our Lakeland days. Then Shane and Angie bid our group adieu, to start the trek home. I know it wasn’t an easy trip for them but I’m thankful they came.

Travis and I stayed at the Kelso house, talking and laughing. I love making new friends but friendships that are old, the ones that have weathered many a storm with you, are the ones that feel like a pair of favorite jeans. Comfy and warm and familiar. There’s no worrying about saying the right thing, or whether or not you’ll say something dumb. It’s almost a given that somebody will say something dumb. Then we’ll riff on it for a while, have a good laugh and move on. It was a great day.

There are a lot more things that are good that are happening around here. Physically, I feel so much better. I’ve noticed lately that my strength has returned. I actually ran, no, sprinted a couple of days when Shane and Angie were here (chasing the dog and then chasing kids). Those of you that have walked through this saga with me know what a big deal that is. And we sold my exercise bike. I loved that bike. But after having it for 5 years it was time. I have to step up my workouts in order to really lose weight and Travis really wanted to do an annual membership to the local Rec. Center. We sold the bike for the exact amount we needed to cover a year at the gym (which was a nice profit over what I paid for it 5 years ago. Craig’s List score!) and not only can I workout, Travis can too and the girls can swim for the whole summer. We’ll see how this goes. In general, I’m not a fan of having to drive to workout. But I was willing to do that for all the Rec. Center offers and for a really reasonable price. It’s *way* less than the Y and the facilities are great.All-in-all I think it will work well for us.

That’s all for now…

Amy

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Squash…Bleh!

So, I’ve realized something about myself lately that I thought you might find interesting…

I don’t actually like squash.

So why grow it? I’m not sure. I think I read that it was easy to grow and I wanted to grow something that I could actually eat. And then I remembered that I actually, really hate cooked squash. It’s gross and slimy and it doesn’t really taste like anything except gross slimy-ness. The only way I really like it is raw, in a salad. That way it’s just sort of crunchy and there are a bunch of other flavors that I do like plus salad dressing so I put it on my salad. Travis is fine either way. I mean, I could call him Mikey but that would confuse him for at least 15 seconds. Really, that guy eats anything I make. Even if I don’t like it.

A couple of nights ago I decided to actually use the squash I picked so I made some brown rice, shredded the squash (so as not to get any slimy seeds), and added some chicken andouille chicken sausage and basil. And honestly, I could barely swallow it. I hated it. Travis? He loved it. And I decided to stop trying to make myself eat things I hate. Eating (for me at least) is difficult enough. I like broccoli. That’s good, right?

I think I’m going to rip out the squash plants and make an herb garden. I’m actually having real trouble with cilantro. Who would have thought? Herbs are supposed to be really easy.

Something that is easy? Bugs. Not the ones you’re thinking…but these cute little guys.

I didn’t notice until I uploaded the photo that It’s blurry. But they’ve all been eaten so I can’t take another one. Such is the life of a bug shaped scone. More scone-ish than actual scone. They’re gluten free after all.

This sweet little buggy pan was on clearance for under $6 at Target and had originally been $23. Nice.

It wasn’t dirty when I bought it. And you know what? It was so much fun! I’ve realized (I had help realizing) that it’s been a really long time since I’ve had any fun. It’s a long sob story that I’ll skip but the jist of it is that I haven’t really been cooking or baking or singing or creating or painting or taking long walks in the city I love or anything else that I enjoy in a really long time.  And then I picked up this cake pan. You should have heard the girls squealing over it. That is fun in itself, my friends!

Often it really is the little things…

The Long Awaited Gluten Free Post

I wrote that in my sarcasm font you know. I realize that you probably weren’t sitting at your computer waiting for me to post this. I have debated a bit about whether or not to even write about it. Then I got a frantic call from my mom wanting to know where in the world to start with the whole gluten free thing. The next day I got a call from my dad wondering if there was any way to not spend so much on bread. There isn’t. So, here’s the gluten free saga as it pertains to me.

I apologize if you’ve read this before.

I was sick for over 9 years. There were many, many days that I couldn’t even get off the couch. I felt like the biggest slacker mom in the world and I was wracked with guilt at times. Doctors couldn’t tell me what was wrong so I quit asking them and I really wondered if I would ever feel well again. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance (a precursor to full-on diabetes), and hormone imbalance. My doctor put me on the highest dose of Metformin available expecting that the insulin resistance would reverse and it didn’t. But I felt horrible all the time because it kept my blood sugar so low. I was a literal wreck because of that and the hormone imbalance made me feel like I was losing it. I was so irritable but that seems so tame to say considering I felt like a ticking time bomb, and it was a constant struggle to not snap at my husband and kids. Travis said that he didn’t really notice. I’m going to give the Holy Spirit props on that one. I also strongly suspected adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress and my allergies were getting worse and worse. I was so tired all the time that it was often hard to breathe. I could sleep for 4 or 5 hours during the day at times and then sleep for 10-12 hours at night. It was debilitating fatigue. That’s the best way I can describe it.

My doctor was a pharmacist before she became an M.D. and was never hesitant to prescribe something. I don’t like having prescriptions for symptoms because I know there has to be a root cause somewhere. What’s the root cause? I had to find another way because even with meds I still felt sick. I told my Dr. that I felt sick all the time and she finally just looked at me and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” So, I decided to ditch the Metformin since it made me feel terrible and since I wasn’t actually diabetic. I read that Metformin was 30-ish percent effective for reversing insulin resistance and that diet and exercise were 50-ish percent effective. So I went for it.

That was over a year ago and I started eating low-carb which meant no bread. Then I found some research on gluten intolerance and how that could make someone insulin resistant and could also cause a hormone imbalance. It took months for me to figure out all the triggers and things that are hidden in food, like modified food starch. But slowly things started to really turn around.

I should probably say that I don’t eat gluten and that’s pretty much the extent of my dietary restrictions. I’m not egg free, casein free, nut free, dairy free, vegan, etc. I say that because a lot of websites and things devoted to gluten free are also all of the above. A friend of mine asked recently what websites and things I read for recipes and I told her that I didn’t. And later I checked out a website but the recipes call for egg substitutes and almond milk or coconut milk and a myriad of other ingredients that I’m not going to go out and buy. Eating gluten free has changed my health drastically but since I have no other health issues with food of which I’m aware, it seems like going to such great lengths to change other things puts me in a type of slavery to food. I realize that not everyone sees it that way but I do. I do realize that there are probable health benefits to eliminating other things but I question where it ends. I’m just a girl that can’t eat gluten. If that resonates with you then you might find some of this other information helpful. If not then there are dozens of other gluten free sites that will fit the bill.

I haven’t been much of a label reader in the past. If food on the shelf looked good I bought it. In the last year or so though I’ve turned into a full-on label reader. I have to and Travis does too. He’s actually saved me from eating something I shouldn’t have on a few occasions. And sometimes he takes it more seriously than I do. It was really hard for us as a couple when I was so sick and neither of us ever wants to go back to that. So here’s the nuts and bolts of things that I’ve found that I can and can’t eat.

Udi’s bread is by far the best. I tried other brands because Udi’s is a little pricey but they’re kind of gross. The texture was like sandy pound cake and fell apart when I tried to make a sandwich. I still don’t eat Udi’s bread without toasting it because it’s a bit dry but it holds together for a sandwich and I like it toasted with butter. Or butter and honey.

Pamela’s mixes are, in my opinion, the best out there. The cake just tastes like cake. And the chocolate cake is really to die for. I like to put chocolate chips in the mix. Her pancake mix is fabulous and you can make a lot of different things with it. I’ve used the scone recipe several times and it’s good but they don’t really have the texture of a scone. It’s more like muffins only kind of dry. They’re good with coffee though.

Bob’s Red Mill products are good too but I prefer Pamela’s. Bob’s is my go-to for gluten free oats though. Gluten free oats? Yep, these oats are grown away from wheat fields and so they aren’t contaminated. I made a gluten free blueberry crisp recently using them and it was really good.

And yes, these are all mixes. When Travis and I first got married I didn’t really cook or bake at all. And then we were really broke and a bag of flour is really cheap and you can make lots of things with it. As I started baking from scratch I found out that homemade treats taste a million times better than things that are boxed and full of preservatives. So I baked and learned and tried different things and achieved a level of baking that I was happy with. And now the wind has been taken out of my sails and I feel like I have to learn to bake and cook all over again. Quite honestly, I haven’t really felt like it. I mean, what soup can’t be turned into something spectacular when started with a roux? Homemade muffins are wonderful. But gluten-free baking is complicated by the different types of flours that you have to use to get a bread type product. I’m sure they have them all at Whole Foods but I’m just not up for it right now.

I have found though that gluten free mixes, even mainstream brands like Betty Crocker, don’t have things like hydrogenated oils. So in that regard I feel fine using mixes.

All-in-all I think that eating gluten free has made me eat healthier overall. How? Because nearly every junk food that I’m very fond of has gluten in it. My favorite BBQ chips, Doritos (the regular nacho cheese), Nestle Crunch bars, Whoppers (the candy and the burger), etc. Basically anything that’s malted I can’t eat. Malted barley flour is found in chips, Twizzlers has wheat flour (not that I liked those anyway), and I’ve found modified food starch in jelly beans. By law it’s supposed to be listed as wheat but even if it isn’t I stay away from it because I have a bad reaction to it. I do eat it if it is listed as modified corn starch or modified food starch (corn) or potato.

Oh, my friend Mary saved me too. She found wheat listed in crab that she was going to use for soup one night when Travis and I were visiting. It really means a lot to me that my friends really take it seriously too. They watched me struggle so much and I feel very fortunate that they see the difference and don’t want me to be sick again. I think that for anyone with food issues one of the worst feelings is to not be taken seriously.

So that’s a partial list. I don’t expect this to turn into a food blog. Mostly because I like to write about other things too. Occasionally though, I will probably blog about gluten free food…like cupcakes filled with custard and topped with buttercream.

A Happy 4th

The 4th of July is my favorite holiday, although it usually sneaks up on me. This year my car is still (!) in the shop though so I had a lot of time to think about it. I only had a couple of goals 1. was to see fireworks, the real deal, a professional explosion fest and 2. was to make a 4th of July themed dessert. I realize that those aren’t really lofty goals but that’s what I love so much about the 4th. I get to see fireworks (I realize that things blowing up is sort of a guy thing but I love them anyway) and it’s low-key. I don’t have to kill myself making tons of food or worry about making the most special family memories ever. Plus barbecue is usually involved and I.love.barbecue. I don’t think I could get away with barbecue at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

And my favorite holiday started on the 2nd! Our life group leaders/friends, live in Bon Aqua, TN. If you’ve never heard of it there’s a good reason for that. There’s nothing there other than houses and maybe farms, oh, and a music venue? I guess it’s the proximity to Nashville that gives the possibility of having a music venue in the middle-of-nowhere, but this one is just a couple of doors down from Ray and Lori’s house. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to fireworks before and it was probably the best show I’ve ever seen. Ever. Oh, and the whole thing started with a sky lantern like the ones in Tangled. It was seriously cool. And then the fireworks show that seemed to go on forever. Even after we heard the emcee say something about “what a great show!”, or something like that, they still blew stuff up. I loved it.

The nice thing about seeing a fireworks show on the 2nd is that if it totally stunk, I would still have an opportunity to see another one on the 4th. I didn’t need to. Although I would have liked to. I did think about two years ago, being on the beach with Trav’s family and watching fireworks. It may not have been the best show but it was still fantastic being on the beach. I’d like to do that again sometime.

Okay, so my fantastic(ish) 4th of July dessert? Chocolate gluten-free cupcakes, filled with vanilla custard and topped with homemade buttercream frosting. Yummy and sweet and chocolatey they were. And I had two. And I may have to do a million miles on my bike to make up for it. But it was worth it. I’ll post more on that later.

So, we had dessert taken care of and all that was left was the celebrating. Which we did at Franklin’s 4th of July festival. I didn’t go to the Main Street Festival in April, which is kind of like Lakeland’s Mayfaire by the Lake, except it’s not on a lake. I’m not sure why we didn’t go. The 4th festival was *way* less crowded than I expected. Amanda said it was lame because of that but I found it delightful. We went to the pumpkin fest a couple of years ago and it was shoulder to shoulder people. It really wasn’t any fun at all- except that I saw Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman.

We took the kids to the kids area to let them do a couple of fun things but all I wanted to do was peek inside the windows of the houses well, former houses, they’re currently businesses. I always find that sad. Except that I couldn’t peek inside the windows if they were residences.

Yep, that’s my reflection. I was totally drawn in by the pine floors and fireplaces in every room. Sigh. In the nearly 11 years that we’ve lived here, we’ve never had a fireplace. It’s on my list of “desperately wants” for a future Button home.

The girls and I had a few minutes to kill while Travis went to fetch funds to finance the bouncy house and petting zoo. And it just so happens that Lillie Belle’s had a sign outside that said, “Free self-guided tours”. What? I could just walk around? I couldn’t help myself so I walked around the grounds. I didn’t check to see if the doors were unlocked because I had Daisy with me (she wasn’t having fun) but I did check out the garden.

I peeked inside the windows too and It was beautiful as expected. I never got the chance to visit when it was a tea room. I’m not terribly fond of tea sandwiches and such but I’d love to have seen the interiors first hand.

Then Trav and I split up, he took Chloe to a bouncy thing and I took Halle to the petting zoo.

We took a swing around the town square and listened to the band play. I told Travis that all we needed was a barber shop quartet singing, “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” and a gazebo in the town square and we’d be in Stars Hollow. So you know I was happy.

Birthday!

We usually don’t do really big birthday parties for our kids. I have nothing against them, it’s just that it’s expensive to rent a place to have one and our house is just too small. I’ve had parties here and it always goes fine and everyone is a good sport about being so cramped but it’s stressful for me. Always. It would be less stressful if I could get rid of the wall between the kitchen and living room but I’ve been forbidden.

This time around was Chloe’s 10th birthday. I’m not sure what it is about double digits but it seemed like a really big deal. I checked out some places and found a reasonably priced spot close to home. I should add that I hadn’t actually checked it out, nor had I even seen photos of the place. I’d only seen artist renderings while it was being built and I didn’t even think about it until the day before the party when I needed to find out what shape the tables were so I could have the appropriate table cloth. The spot was Sodium, and it’s described as a family coffee shop. I really had trouble picturing that. But upon arriving I found that it was the perfect, if not very dark, spot for a 10 year old’s birthday party. Actually, I’d like to go back with just Travis so we could hang out and shoot pool.

The tree house? Super. Cool.

Chloe and Dean, the only boy at the party. He was a really good sport about it.

Halle and Lael, I’m not sure why that’s Halle’s default pose.

This is almost the whole crew. I think Dean was playing video games. And the little girl eating the pizza? Um, yeah, I’ll offer some advice here. Always order a cheese pizza. Even if you’re not sure anyone will eat it, order it anyway. Why? Because one of the kids might be vegetarian and they might cry when they find out there’s nothing for them to eat and then your husband (who happens to be running a fever) might have to run back to a pizza place (after he’s already fetched pizza) to get the little one something to eat. And then you might realize after your husband leaves that the place you’re at actually sells pizza and that the trip could have been avoided. Not that anything even remotely close to that happened or anything.

The big sister and little sister at the rock wall which isn’t actually a rock wall but some other sort of wall that isn’t posted but you will get a very long lecture if you do it the wrong way. I’m just sayin’.

The birthday girl and me. And it looks like she’ll be just as photogenic as her sister. Mary suggested that she should party so hard that it takes a week to recover. Well, we didn’t party that hard but sickness has completely descended on the Button house and it’s taken her this whole week to recover. It’s not exactly the fun Mary intended. And I should add that I was the last one to catch it and I recovered the quickest. I think that qualifies as a miracle. Which means that I should probably post an update on how the gluten free thing is going for me. In short, I’ll say that I’m much better and it’s made a huge difference. I’ll post a longer version later.

So, in conclusion, our sweet Chloe was very celebrated, Sodium (Mr. bossy lecture-pants aside) was fun and is a place I’d like to visit again, oh, and my parents (as usual) saved the day. They helped so much and filled in the gaps since Travis was sick. And now I officially have a tween. Again.

Things…

There are things to do here that I don’t want to do but I must to in order to get the end result that I want desperately. Unfortunately, this room isn’t cleaning itself up by me staring at it. Bah! I also wish that I could somehow pawn this off on the kids. But I need to clean the closet not have the contents of the room shoved into the closet. I am happy that Travis is going to help me. He’s Mr. Organization.

On a really big upside…I tried a different brand of GF bread. It tasted like actual, real bread. Bread that I can make a sandwich on and I made toast ever day last week. I hadn’t realized how much I miss toast. It’s Udi’s brand if you’re interested. Today I had an Udi’s bagel. I think it just tasted like bread; it wasn’t chewy like a bagel. It was still good with eggs. So apparently, I can eat bread that tastes good and pasta that tastes like pasta and I’m actually enjoying eating again. I didn’t think it was possible.

And while we’re de-cluttering and generally blitzing the house, I’ll be working and laughing with these fabulous people…and puppy.

I am very blessed.

Living…

Living gluten-free is sometimes a pain in the, um, backside. I’ve done really well since I realized that it was gluten that was making me sick. I’ve researched, shopped and avoided everything I could. I found out that modified food starch is actually wheat, unless it specifies that it’s corn,  but that companies don’t have to label it as such. Which means a whole lot of foods are off the table. I have accepted it but was thrilled when I found a bottle of BBQ sauce that uses modified corn starch instead of the wheat variety. I figured that I’d have to either live without BBQ (one of my most favorite foods) or make my own sauce. I’ve done that with so-so results.

The wild card in this whole thing is eating out. I don’t eat out often but when I do I usually check the restaurant out online first. I know I can have a chicken Caesar salad at Panera or black bean soup. I know that Mellow Mushroom has a gluten free pizza. Steak at Chili’s is a-okay. I haven’t ever checked out Cracker Barrel. Mostly because we haven’t been there since last spring…before I cut gluten out of my diet.

I had a get-together there this past Saturday with the gals from my Life Group. I had a weeks notice, which is plenty of time, but I also had a really busy week. I hadn’t even decided that I was going to go until Thursday and I spent the whole morning on Saturday talking to Travis. He and I tend to do that on Saturdays. I rushed out the door a few minutes late and I never even thought about checking the menu. Big.Mistake.

I had a great time talking with our Life Group gals and ordered a grilled chicken salad. Those are usually safe. Any place I’ve ever checked has had a “safe” grilled chicken salad. But not this time. By that evening I had a stomach ache, the next day I was feeling weak and winded and my sense of taste was gone and by yesterday my body was in full revolt mode. I haven’t been that miserable in quite some time. It makes me think that it was more than just exposure to something like modified food starch and was actually cross contamination with some wheat flour. It makes me wonder how I ever survived eating bread.

I’m not down on Cracker Barrel. I like going there and not checking it out was totally my fault. I also didn’t tell the waitress that I can’t have gluten. I hate, really, really hate having to make a fuss. Travis doesn’t. He tells people I’m allergic to gluten without hesitating. Last time we went to Chili’s he told the server and the manager even came to our table to let us know that the server had informed him of the gluten allergy (I don’t think it’s an allergy but that’s the term that people take really seriously) and that they were really careful. I was impressed. It was the Chili’s in Cool Springs if anyone is interested. Anyway, I didn’t make a fuss and I’m still struggling today. The thing is though, it’s not just about me. If I’m out because I accidentally ate something, that means that Travis is going to have to stop by the store to buy soup because my stomach refuses to have anything other than soup or gluten-free oatmeal or toast (gf, of course). After he’s worked all day. That means that the girls and I are doing the smallest amount of school work possible because I have to lie down. Can I say that it really pisses me off?

I went out to eat with my parents a few weeks ago and as everyone else is ordering ice cream brownies and fried cheese, my Dad just said “It’s not like other people who break a diet and just gain a couple of pounds, you actually get sick.” And that’s it. I’m not tempted to eat regular bread, no matter how good it smells. I’m not tempted by regular cake or my favorite potato chips (they have malted barley flour), my favorite ice cream or any of my other favorite food things. It’s kind of like putting your hand on a hot burner. You only have to do it once to realize it’s a really bad idea. I have accepted that the bread I eat will be crumbly and chicken noodle soup will be a bit grainy. Fine. I want to be well more than I want to eat any type of food. It makes eating much less fun. So be it.

Food

I’m not ready to permanently decide that Thursday shall forevermore be “Recipe Thursday”. I think I’d rather have recipe Friday or something. But since I cooked this on Wednesday and I can’t really think of anything else to write for Thursday, then food it is.

I suppose I should have a name for my food. Something short and catchy. But, alas, I do not. What I do have is pork chops with sauteed mushrooms and Alfredo sauce. Yummy!

I started with 4 crazy-thick pork chops. These are Costco pork chops and these things are monsters. It’s the way they do things. Anyway, I used a cast iron skillet, put a generous amount of olive oil and heated it up until it was screaming…or at smoke point to be more precise. I pan seared one side then flipped them over and sprinkled salt and pepper on them and popped them in a 375 degree oven. Cook them until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I can’t tell you how long that would be unless I know how thick your chops are. Then I put them on a plate to let them rest.

You probably notice the chop that’s not completely pan-seared. Don’t crowd the pan, people! I mean, I did, but you shouldn’t. I digress. Take them out of the pan to let them rest. And if you have a lady bug plate, even better.

Next we start the ‘shrooms. As many as you like and really, any type you like. I prefer button (haha) but it’s mostly because they’re mild flavored. I used a bunch and sautéed them in the juices from the skillet. You could start this step earlier in another pan and add a tiny bit of water to start them. I covered them with a lid to move things along faster.

Then while the ‘shrooms are cooking, start the sauce. Begin by melting two tablespoons of butter in a smallish saucepan (don’t wimp out on me now…use butter!)

Then add 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream.

Let it get bubbly and then add a bit of cracked pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese. I don’t grate it myself like the pros tell you to. I cook lots of things from scratch but I use an already grated cheese that I buy from C0stco. Ahem. Give it a stir and turn the heat way down.

Then you might want to steam some broccoli. You know, in case you want to have a veggie.

Then plate the chop, top with ‘shrooms and drizzle with sauce. Then thank the Lord that a guy named Alfredo decided to make a sauce. Really.

Here’s the recipe (I adapted it from an Atkins recipe, I don’t want to get sued)

2 tbsp. butter

1 1/2 c. heavy cream

3/4 c. parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp. pepper

pinch nutmeg

If you’re doing Atkins then you’re probably not worried about the calorie content of this meal. If you’re not then just take a walk on the wild side for the night. Travis calls it comfort food. I call it yummy. Enjoy!

Sometimes…

Sometimes it’s just easier to post a cooking something-or-other, rather than trying to make my life sound interesting every day. I really have a new-found respect for those bloggers that write every-single-day or even twice a day. Whew!

So I made mayonnaise today. Why mayo? Well, I may have mentioned that I’m doing Atkins right now and they have a recipe for mayo. Why Atkins? Well, I already can’t eat gluten and I also can’t eat sugar so I figured “why not?” Besides, I can have real cream in my coffee with Atkins but not with South Beach, so there you go.

Start with 1 egg, 2 tsp. lemon juice (fresh is best but you can use the bottled kind), 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (I didn’t have any so I used spicy brown mustard), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp pepper 1/2 cup olive or canola oil.

Put everything in a food processor and give it a whirl…

I doubled the recipe so that it would fit in the food processor. The recipe calls for it to be made in a blender *but* it’s really hard to get it out of a blender. Mayo is thick and there are blades at the bottom so it’s just difficult. The blades in a food processor can be taken out then you can use a rubber spatula to get it out.

And your goofy dog may bark at you for a bite of what you’re making. She doesn’t know it’s mayonnaise, nor does she care.

Then, while you’re whirling (well, you shouldn’t actually whirl but your food processor should) drizzle in the olive oil…

It will all thicken up and you will have a nice, heart-healthy mayo…

For what you ask? Well, let’s say you’re throwing a casual sandwich party but you want to dress it up a bit. Grab a loaf of artisan bread from Panera and make a bit of mayo to garner “oohs and ahhhs” from your very impressed guests. Maybe add some dill or chili powder for a variety and you’ve gone from plain old sandwiches to something that might make guests feel just a little more special. And it only takes about 5 minutes.

Or you could do a low-carb salmon salad over a bed of spinach. That was my lunch today. And there you have it, a gluten-free, sugar-free, low-carb condiment that tastes pretty yummy. Ciao!

Pie

Trav’s birthday. It’s always difficult to properly celebrate a birthday when it falls in the middle of the week. It’s even more difficult when it’s a big birthday. You know, a milestone. 40 is definitely a milestone. We plan on celebrating soon with a shopping trip which is most definitely celebrating Button style.

The pie. Gluten free flour was just as wretched to work with as I’d anticipated. Making the dough was easy enough, especially in my new super-awesome food processor that my parents bought for me for Christmas. Rolling it out was fine but there was no way to transfer that mass of dough from counter top to pie; at least not in one piece. There’s no gluten in it, therefore there’s no elasticity. Well, not much anyway. And the white rice flour is grainy. My solution was to roll it out thicker than normal, cut it with a round cookie cutter and roll the smaller piece out thinner to sort of piece around the pie. If I was a pie pro then I may have been able to pull it off better but this was my first fruit pie. Ever.

And it looked like this:

Smooshy, huh? And um, I’ll make sure the egg wash covers all the dough next time.

The result? Apples and blueberries make a dynamite pie filling. The crust was light and flaky and sandy. Really, that’s the only way to describe the crunch. And although Brian jokingly called it “sandpaper pie”, once he tried it he said he couldn’t tell a difference between that and normal pie.

But I could tell the difference. I’ve made Martha Stewart’s pate brise recipe. It’s heaven…and this wasn’t. I said to a friend that it wasn’t important enough for me to figure out how to make a truly great gluten free pie crust, that next time I’d just buy one. The amount of time I’ve spent thinking about this would suggest otherwise. I will not be bested by a pie. That is all.