Thursday, October 29, 2009

As the Light Changes...

As I have touted before on this blog, I LOVE the season of Fall! The colors change, the light shifts to a golden hue in the sky, subtly reflecting off each gorgeous leaf that's on its way out...and...the J.Crew catalog is loaded with amazing goodies every fall season - this one is NO exception, my friends.

I used to love Halloween as a child. I remember fondly that our mom would always hand make my brother and my costumes each year. She was really talented and creative, and somewhere out there, there's a smashing photo of the two of us impersonating "Donny and Marie Osmond" to a tee, with our flowing lavender/purple costumes - microphones in hand. If you are of a certain age, then you know what I'm talking about! However, back in those days I did not have to worry about every morsel of food that I put into my mouth in fear of it containing gluten. The biggest concern that we faced at the end of every Halloween night was HOW much candy we were able to collect on our journey through the neighborhood, and our parents making sure there were no items that were suspiciously "unwrapped"...oh, and no homemade Carmel apples. ohhhhh

How I long sometimes for those "good old days."

Every Halloween, I try to imagine what it must be like to be a child with Celiac Disease and what a positive and creative parent one must be in order to still create a sense of "magic" and excitement for their child, without creating a huge amount of fear around all the "do's and dont's" of eating gluten-free.

In some of my research, I came across a blog with a fairly comprehensive list of "safe" Halloween candy. But as always, it's a good idea to double-check every ingredient in the event that the manufacturer has changed anything since the last time you checked!

And since October is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, I thought it important to share this Reuters story, updating us all on General Mills and their five Chex cereals which are now completely gluten-free.

I know that on Saturday night as I'm handing out gluten-free candy to all of the little ghosts, goblins, and Miley Cyrus's at my door...I'll be wishing all the Celiac kids out there a safe, fun and enjoyable Halloween eve...and wishing I could still dress up as Marie Osmond!

Happy Fall ~

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Restaurant ~

View of famous Mt. Baldy in Sun Valley, ID

While visiting one of my favorite spots on the map over the weekend, (Sun Valley & Ketchum, Idaho), a delicious gluten-free dinner was had at the darling, cozy and rustic Vintage Restaurant. Vintage is located in a tiny cabin in downtown Ketchum on Leadville Street, just across from the famous Kneadery Restaurant.

I had wanted to try Vintage for the past couple of years, having heard great things about the food and the chef/owner Jeff Keys, who is also a cookbook author and has published a book titled "Vintage" - highlighting all the wonderful dishes that are served at the restaurant and then some - the good news...many of them are gluten-free or can easily be modified as such!

Our dining experience at Vintage was wonderful, though I have to be honest, my first conversation with our very friendly and a bit frazzled server left me a bit leery of how safe I was actually going to be eating there - so I decided to keep my demeanor light and friendly but was adamant that she had to speak with the chef about every single food item I was considering, in order to ENSURE that everything could be properly prepared gluten-free. I have to say anymore, eating out is not nearly as fun or carefree and I have to work hard to keep my composure and not let the stress of getting poisoned completely ruin every dining experience. However, in this case, and after several long discussions with the server and chef, I felt I was in good hands and I surrendered to trust.

My food was fantastic, I have to say. I started with their famous Shrimp Tamale - wow, it's incredible and I almost bought the cookbook then and there so that I could recreate this dish and serve it to my friends and family! My main entree was semi-custom created - pan seared Sea Bass with herbs, served with field greens, feta cheese, mandarin orange wedges in a simple vinaigrette - along with a side dish of fresh made Polenta...just for me! The dish was wonderful and completely safe and gluten-free. I highly recommend ordering that exact combination of dishes. Dessert was a bowl of homemade, fresh strawberry sorbet - no wheat there! For you chocolate lovers, Jeff also makes a flour less chocolate cake that's also featured in his cookbook. (I was waaaay too stuffed to try it)

If you are Celiac or gluten-intolerant and find yourself in Ketchum standing in front of Vintage and reading their delicious menu, don't hesitate to eat there, just make sure you alert the staff of your diet restrictions when making a reservation.

It's such a special dining experience and as one gentlemen told us on his way out the door, "this is the best restaurant in the Valley"...spoken from a true local!

(Presently, Vintage is on holiday for five weeks, re-opening the week of Thanksgiving 2009)

Vintage Restaurant
231 Leadville Avenue North
Ketchum, ID 83340

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

One Pot Wonder ~

It is pouring rain here today - a very welcome sight let me tell you, and the kind of day where you would like to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and let the world go by. And now that it's fall and the days are getting shorter and the night air arrives with a certain crispness, I was inspired this past week to cook up two gluten-free dishes that brought a lot of warmth and nutrition to my tummy!

I cook a lot at my house and I have realized the joy and ease of cooking a healthy meal in one dish or one pot - it's easy and there is so much variety to cooking this way. Usually, all that needs to accompany a one-dish meal is a simple salad with good olive oil, some fig vinegar and a few gluten-free crackers...oh...and a nice glass of wine.

The other night I only had 10 minutes for meal prep between running home from work and racing off to a Pilates class. I had a ton of veggies in my fridge and wanted to use them all up while they were still fresh, so I had the idea to throw them all in my Emile Henry stew pot, add some GF chicken broth, a few other flavorful ingredients, chop everything up and let them simmer away while I was at my class. I wasn't quite sure what I was creating, but it turned out to be really yummy and provided four healthy meals throughout the week. Cooking this way is really economical, as well.

Gluten-free Chicken/Veggie stew-

Ingredients: Serves four (Ten minutes prep time)

- 1 8 Oz. box/container of gluten free chicken broth

- 1/4 Pc. of fresh butter

- 1.5 Tbsp. of organic garlic pepper

- 1/4 Cup of red cooking wine

- 1 Tbsp. Olive oil

- 1/2 Cup of water

- 4 Large, red organic potatoes

- 1/2 Yellow onion (chopped in quarters)

- 3 Green onions (chopped)

- 3 Roma tomatoes (quartered)

- 3 Zucchini (sliced)

- 2 Celery stalks (chopped)

- 1/2 Cup baby carrots (whole)

- 1 Roasted chicken (Pre-cooked and pulled from bones and sliced)

- Grated Parmigiana cheese as topping on stew (to your liking)

I simply chopped up all of my veggies and threw then in the pot, then added the chicken broth, water, wine, olive oil, butter, garlic pepper, salt and pepper (to taste). I made sure that everything was covered with a 1/2 inch of broth knowing it would cook down. I simmered the pot on medium heat for an hour and 20 minutes.

When I returned home the veggies were the perfect texture and simmering with robust taste and flavor. I then added the sliced up, roasted chicken to the pot and allowed to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Voila! Ready to eat.

It was super-simple and delicious - a great meal for a family or to have leftovers to nosh on all week.

Next up - Homemade Shallot-leek cream gluten-free pasta

Eat well!